State Pension Crisis: How Did We Get Here?

May 19, 2015

Pick your favorite issue or cause in Pennsylvania: public education, services for the poor, tax breaks for businesses.

Chances are, there's going to be less money for any of these moving forward because the state's public employee pension bill is growing exponentially, with a current unfunded liability of $53 billion.

To keep up with rising costs, school districts across the state have been making tough choices — either cutting programs or hiking property taxes.

School budget wonks are reeling from the massive pension payment spikes that have been hitting lately.

In Philadelphia, for instance, the district has been cut to the bone, and because leaders lack taxing authority, there's only thing to do each year: beg and plead for more from the city and the state.

"When you have these fixed mandated costs, it handcuffs you in your ability to meet the needs of students because so much of your money is going towards a certain fixed cost item," said Matt Stanski, chief financial officer of the Philadelphia School District.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner Keystone Crossroads.