Lawmakers hold hearing to tackle multi-billion dollar pension crisis

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Lawmakers held a hearing Tuesday to discuss the state’s multi-billion dollar pension crisis. Pennsylvania’s current pension system is called the defined benefit system, which gaurantees that state employees get benefits when they retire. The problem: the state already spent that money on other items. “We have political forces managing loses and gains and they don’t manage the losses. They give the taxpayer a bill for the loses,” said State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County).

Metcalfe is trying to find ways to replenish the pension funds with the $50 billion they need. That's why he held the hearing, during which nine people testified.

Josh McGee is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He said the concessions state workers have already made are enough and that the responsibility now falls on lawmakers.

"I think that workers have already seen significant benefit cuts, have seen wage freezes. I think it's time for the state to actually hold up their end of the bargain and pay adequately into the pension plan," said McGee.

Metcalfe said there are various ways to do that. "Cutting other state expenditures and cutting government budgets so that you can fund what we have a constitutional and moral obligation to fund," said Metcalfe. He's also advocating for something called a defined contribution plan, which would allow the employee to decide how to manage the money in his or her own pension rather than the state.