Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Taxpayer group slams public pensions

Findings from TUA’s pension project on Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are featured in this article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. UPDATE: An update to the original release that this article is based on has been made here.

A Chicago-based advocacy group today highlighted what it called overly generous pensions to local government retirees and called on state officials to change pension laws.

Government employees with defined benefit plans receive far better benefits than private-sector employees — and the plans are straining taxpayers’ ability to fund them, representatives of Taxpayers United of America said during the Pittsburgh stop on their multi-state campaign for pension reform.

“The math just doesn’t work for defined benefit systems,” Rae Ann McNeilly, the group’s director of outreach, said.

That message is familiar in Pittsburgh, which narrowly avoided a state takeover of its underfunded pension fund last year. The state pension funds for teachers and commonwealth employees also are serious underfunded.

Taxpayers United provided lists of city and Allegheny County government retirees who receive pensions ranging from $38,000 to $180,000 a year.

“What we’re doing is creating awareness,” Christina Tobin, vice president of Taxpayers United, said.

The group wants to halt defined benefit plans for new government hires and put new workers on 401(k) plans. It also wants current government employees to begin contributing more of their salaries toward their pensions.

On Wednesday, the group will be in Harrisburg to press its demand for new pension laws and to reveal the pensions of state legislators. “There are some hefty ones there,” Ms. McNeilly said.

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