Pennsylvania ranks 48th out of the 50 states when they are measured by the share of annual pension contributions made since 2003.
That's why the pension system for state employees is woefully underfunded. Which leads to all sorts of political consternation.
There are a whole lot of people who don't want the pension system contributions or policies changed.
But, in the words of state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, a Loyalsock Township Republican, maintaining the status quo "is going to eat us alive."
The "us" includes state government in general and the state's taxpayers in particular.
The state government needs to find a way in the next few years to increase the amount of revenue going into the pension system.
At the same time, the state Legislature needs to change policies regarding new employees to establish a pension system based on fixed contributions.
That may not be a popular pension to-do list, but it's a realistic one.
The state has long since passed the point where pension policy is nothing more than a special interest talking point.
The underfunding crisis will affect all of the state government operation, particularly funding to state human services programs, if something is not done in the next several years.
So, as politically risky as it may be for Gov. Corbett, we believe the Legislature should be looking to revise the pension fund aspects of the proposed 2014-15 state budget in the coming months and pension policies with an eye toward future solvency in the state employee retirement system.
While the proposal includes generous contributions to state pension funds, the funding level doesn't appear to be adequate, given the degree of the state pension deficit.
Now is the time to address the pension situation completely. Otherwise, five or 10 years from now, the only way to adequately fund the pensions of the retiring state employees will be to penalize human services programs and other functions that the state government should be providing.
- Williamsport Sun-Gazette