Governor Wolf Signs Pension Reform Bill into Law

Harrisburg, PA – Today with a full house in the Capitol Rotunda as a backdrop, Governor Tom Wolf joined bipartisan leaders and members of the General Assembly to sign Senate Bill 1, the pension reform compromise bill.

“Today is yet another demonstration that by working across party lines and branches of government, we can address important issues,” Governor Wolf said. “Working together, we legalized medical marijuana, continue to combat the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic, passed a liquor reform package, and invested in our schools in a fair and equitable way.

“The common thread that runs through all of these successes is not just the policy changes that result from this hard work, but also that we are solving the problems that the citizens of Pennsylvania face every day. And now, we can add one more success to that list—pension reform.”

Governor Wolf recognized members of the General Assembly he said were instrumental in passing this legislation. Senators Corman, Scarnati, Brown, Costa; Representatives Turzai, Reed, Dermody; and others were on hand for the bill signing.

The bill received strong bipartisan support in both chambers and from prominent long-time advocates for pension reform because of the significant, long-term changes it contains. Among them:

“Senate Bill 1 represents the needed long term reform and stability our School Districts have been calling for and need. The intent of Senate Bill 1 is to place our future employees’ retirement system on a viable path that will reduce investment risk by 53% or $15.5 billion over time. This plan protects taxpayers from jarring tax increases and/or draconian program cuts. Senate Bill 1 ensures that our schools will have a retirement plan that is both competitive and sustainable.” – John M. Callahan, Pennsylvania School Boards Associations

“Passage of this bill would mitigate more risk than any other state that has recently enacted pension reform. We believe this to be historic and meaningful legislation, and we give it our unqualified and enthusiastic support.” – Joint statement from Dennis Yablonsky (Allegheny Conference), Rob Wonderling (Philadelphia Chamber) and Gene Barr (PA Chamber)

“This legislation, which Governor Wolf has indicated he will sign into law, meets the key principles that the Allegheny Conference and Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce have for years been advocating for in a meaningful state pension reform solution. It addresses the ever-increasing unfunded pension liability; provides for risk sharing and cost predictability between state employees and taxpayers; increases the overall funding certainty of the retirement systems; and provides adequate retirement security for beneficiaries of the plans. The passage of comprehensive state pension reform legislation would not have been possible without the leadership of our public sector partners including Governor Wolf and our legislative leadership on both sides of the aisle.” – Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce

“Pew supports [Senate Bill 1] because it would build upon previous legislation to achieve full funding of the state’s pension system, lower costs and significantly reduce risk for taxpayers, and preserve a path to retirement for skilled public workers. Our research indicates that this would be one of the most – if not the most – comprehensive and impactful reforms any state has implemented.  Our analysis of this plan indicates that it saves Pennsylvania $5-$20 billion over 30 years depending on investment performance. The reform also establishes an investment committee to target further cost reductions of $3 billion by lowering investment fees. Pennsylvania currently has the fifth highest fee levels across the 50 states.” – Pew Charitable Trusts

“We believe Senate Bill 1 will put the state pension systems on a better path to stability and sustainability. This legislation also provides for more steady and predictable funding from taxpayers, which will help establish more structurally sound systems and lead to less uncertainty for current and future school and state employees.” Gene Barr, President and CEO of PA Chamber