The SEIU Pennsylvania State Council released a statement Tuesday slamming the Republican proposal to reform the state pension program as unconstitutional.
Pennsylvania is among the many states currently in a pension crisis. A bipartisan proposal to reform the system passed the state senate Monday and is now on its way to the lower chamber. Unions condemn the legislation as destructive and in violation of the state constitution.
“Their plan makes unconstitutional cuts to current workers, and leaves new public employees with [the] third worst retirement system in the country,” the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council said in their statement. “It’s wrong. You work hard for your community and always contribute to your retirement. Lawmakers shouldn’t punish you for their mistakes.”
The union is urging members to email their state representative to oppose the bill. The bill is not designed to impact current contracts but instead prolong pension payments for future retirees. Nevertheless, critics argue this will result in unlawful pension cuts. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has also rejected the proposal as dangerous. The bill was introduced by Republican state Sen. Pat Browne. Matt Moyer, the director of communications for Browne, contests the union complaint.
“We believe that any changes to prospective benefits, not already earned, is constitutional,” Moyer told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
State pension reforms have been rejected by the courts in the past. Nathan Benefield, vice president of policy analysis at the Commonwealth Foundation, notes the new reform is unique and avoid some of the problems that stopped past attempts.
“Those cases were really about having to pay more for the same benefits,” Benefield told TheDCNF. “There has been no ruling about changes for future benefits.”
The Commonwealth Foundation found the state has $50 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. The measure passed the Senate with 29 Republicans and nine Democrats voting in favor of it.
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