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Pew Report Documents Challenges Faced by Philadelphia in Paying for City Workers' Pensions and Health Care
Date:6/29/2009

nk by 30 percent--from $4.66 billion to $3.26 billion--over 12 months.

Although a sustained rally on Wall Street would improve the picture, city officials are projecting that the funding ratio in the pension fund will remain below 50 percent at least through 2013. Over the years, the city has not put enough money into the pension fund to pay for the benefits it has promised its workers. That history of underpayment had put the fund in worse shape than most others even before the market crashed.

Cities across the country have seen similar drops in pension-fund values; Pittsburgh is one of the few major cities whose pension funds are more-severely underfunded than Philadelphia's. And various state and local governments are trying to figure out how to reduce pensions costs moving forward. In New York State, Gov. David Paterson, in exchange for scrapping proposed layoffs, got unions to agree to a new pension plan for future workers, one with higher employee contributions and a later retirement age. The new system will apply to state workers and local-government workers except in New York City.

Quiet No More examines the restructuring ideas being discussed to respond to Philadelphia's rising costs. In Pennsylvania, the state Public Employee Retirement Commission has offered a little-noticed proposal that calls for a partial but permanent state takeover of every distressed municipal pension fund in the commonwealth, including Philadelphia's. There are about 75 of those funds. The takeover would remove pensions from the collective bargaining process and leave the setting of pension benefits to state officials.

Earlier this month, the city administration introduced a bill in City Council to create a new pension plan for future hires that would lower guaranteed benefits and would have some of the characteristics of a

401(k) plan.

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SOURCE Pew Charitable Trusts
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