In June, Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives passed a bill that transforms the retirement benefits for future state and public school employees from a formula-driven system based on salary at retirement to a 401(k)-style system.
That measure is now up for Senate approval.
What many do not understand about this recent push for pension reform is that other industries may also benefit, especially those in the agricultural industry.
“Until we actually see the specific legislation tied to pension reform as part of the overall budget compromise, we won't be able to give it a thumbs up,” Mark O’Neill, director of media and strategic communications at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB), told Pennsylvania Business Daily. “However, PFB strongly supports efforts to attain pension reform. In fact, pension reform has been one of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s top priorities over the past three years. The massive unfunded liabilities of Pennsylvania’s public pension systems should be of major concern to all Pennsylvanians, especially landowners, who will likely bear a huge brunt of the burden of funding the pension plans.”
O’Neill stressed the importance of pension reform and said, “Pennsylvania taxpayers are responsible for the unfunded pension liability. If nothing is done, that debt will continue to skyrocket. This will likely lead to higher taxes and heavy reductions in funding to other government agencies that provide services to Pennsylvania residents.”
Because of the impact these reforms have and will have on farmers, especially with regards to property taxes and a loss of other local and state funding, “the General Assembly and the governor need to address the issue as quickly as possible and come up with solutions that provide short-term and long-term relief,” O’Neill said.
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