Caltagirone announces support for pension reform bill

HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone, D-Berks, a longtime advocate for responsible pension reform, voted for S.B. 1 today because it responsibly protects the retirement security of state employees, shifts the financial risk from taxpayers and saves more than $1 billion over the next several decades.

Pennsylvania’s state employees are among the most talented and dedicated professionals in the country and after decades of service, they should earn a fair and reasonable retirement, Caltagirone said.

In the past, Caltagirone has opposed legislation that would have been unconstitutional and would have undermined the retirement security of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

“I have held out for a long time for pension reform legislation that continues to pay down our pension debt, does not unlawfully take benefits already earned, does not put our current systems at risk, shifts future risk away from the taxpayers, requires board members to be educated in investment practices, and reduces Wall Street fees, all while providing workers with a fair retirement benefit,” Caltagirone said. “I am happy to say S.B. 1 accomplished these goals.”

Notwithstanding, Caltagirone vowed to continue his efforts to address issues within the pension systems, including H.B. 1253 that would limit high-risk venture capital investment to 2 percent and H.B. 1016 that would prohibit public pension board members from accepting gifts and political contributions from any firm doing business with the pension board.

“While I would have loved to see my concepts included in S.B. 1, they were not, but supporting S.B. 1 was guided by my belief that lawmakers should not let the ‘perfect bill’ be the enemy of a good bill,” Caltagirone said.

Caltagirone further quantified his position, saying, “We can sit in Harrisburg and just say no to any pension reform legislation, or we can roll up our sleeves, work hard, and come up with solutions to problems facing our citizens.”

Caltagirone said he expects some lawmakers in Harrisburg will argue that they didn’t do real pension reform, but he disagrees.

“You don’t need to take my word for it. According to an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trust, this pension reform measure is the largest shift in taxpayer risk of any state pension reform in the country,” he said.

Caltagirone expressed his support of the bi-partisanship and bi-cameral efforts to pass the bill.

“I commend the governor, Leader Dermody, Speaker Turzai and the Senate leadership for showing the political courage to cooperate and unite behind a pension reform bill that does not run afoul of the constitution and strikes a measured balance between providing stable retirement options and protecting the taxpayers of the Commonwealth,” he said. “I hope we can ride this momentum and spirit of cooperation through the budget process and deliver a budget that works for all Pennsylvanians.”