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Pennsylvania House approves pension reform bill; governor expected to sign

Pennsylvania State Capitol

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the Senate’s pension reform bill that would change retirement benefits for most state employees and all school employees hired after Jan. 1, 2019.

The House on Thursday voted 143-53 in favor of Senate Bill 1, which would move workers not in high-risk jobs such as state police and corrections officers into a hybrid pension system, receiving half of their benefits from the current taxpayer-funded plan and half from a 401(a) defined contribution plan.

New employees hired after Jan. 1, 2019, could elect to solely participate in the 401(a) DC plan. Current employees also will have 90 days to choose to opt into the new hybrid plan in 2019.

The bill would affect the $51.3 billion Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System and $26 billion Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System, both based in Harrisburg.

The Senate passed the bill on Monday. The bill will now head to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature.

“The passage of Senate Bill 1 is an example of how Harrisburg can come together to make progress on issues that matter to the people of Pennsylvania,” said Mr. Wolf in a statement issued by his office. “The collaborative and cooperative process that led to consensus is a byproduct of both Republicans and Democrats working with my administration to achieve significant reform.”

Mr. Wolf added: “I look forward to joining members of the House and Senate, from both sides of the aisle, to sign this important bill into law.”

The bill is projected to save more than $5 billion and shield taxpayers from $20 billion or more in additional liabilities if state investments fail to meet projections, said a news release issued from the office Republican Sen. Jake Corman, the bill’s chief sponsor.