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Pension 'reforms' could be hazardous to your financial security


Pensions are a trending topic. Suddenly, we’re hearing about pensions everywhere — in headlines, editorials, on talk radio and the Internet.

“Corbett says pension reform is a top priority for 2013,” a PA newspaper proclaimed recently, signaling an escalating PR campaign to turn our public employee pensions into a Public Enemy.
By referring to our pensions as “a tapeworm” and claiming the cost of pensions threatens other programs, Gov. Corbett is using half-truths and scare tactics to attack our pensions and sell his “reforms.” The goal: Eliminate our defined-benefit pensions, cut benefits and turn another valuable public program into a private profit center.
When the legislature convenes in 2013, we must be ready to fight with everything we’ve got to preserve our defined-benefit pensions, which for nearly 100 years have:
• Provided public employees with retirement security,
• Fueled the state’s economic growth and
• Remained the most efficient and cost-effective way to provide employees with retirement income.
We know the state’s pension funds were hurt by the 2001 and 2008 stock market crashes. But large pension funds are designed to weather market fluctuations, from financial hiccups to the Great Depression.
Given time, they’ll even recover from the billions of dollars in contributions lost when school districts and the state were permitted to pay less than their full share of pension contributions from 2000-2010.
The reforms being floated in Harrisburg won’t fix the problems. In fact, some proposals will make matters worse for current and future retirees.
That’s why AFT Pennsylvania is committed to doing everything in our power to maintain our defined-benefit pensions for current retirees, existing employees and for future employees.
Whether you are retired, nearing retirement, vested in the pension or just starting your career, a secure pension matters.
A pension is an investment in our futures. Defined-benefit pensions provide us with financial security. They reduce poverty and dependence among seniors. Pension dollars generate spending in our communities, which creates local jobs and supports economic growth. And pensions allow veteran workers to retire with dignity, making way for younger employees to advance.
A pension is a promise, and promises shouldn’t be broken.
Protecting pensions for ourselves and future generations is important for everyone, and I’m confident that if we work together, we will prevail.

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