Surplus could provide short-term pension relief

PETER JACKSON
Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Smaller-than-expected payrolls for many Pennsylvania school districts are producing a surplus of state funds earmarked for pension reimbursements that could help ease the state’s public-pension woes.

The state’s main teacher pension fund says the reimbursements left $69 million of last year’s allocation unspent. Pension officials said Thursday the trend appears to be continuing and lawmakers may have an extra $140 million to spend in the year that starts July 1.

The state reimburses districts for a percentage of payroll. If payrolls shrink, so do the payments.

Some legislators want to plow the money into the taxpayers’ share of pension costs instead of refinancing that obligation, as Gov. Tom Corbett proposes to help balance the state budget. His long-range plan also would cut future pension benefits for current employees.

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