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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Sending the wrong signal to taxpayers

  • It was just a short news item which came through our email on Thursday morning.
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  • It was just a short news item which came through our email on Thursday morning.
    "Treasurer McCord opposes pay raise for SERS official" was the headline on the news release.
    The release came from Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord.
    SERS is the State Employees Retirement System which handles the funds for state workers.
    According to the release, the SERS board voted on a pay increase for its chief investment officer, Anthony Clark. The proposal was to increase Clark's salary from $250,016 to $270,017, just over $20,000, or about 8 percent.
    "At a time when the state is struggling to find a way to meet its future obligations to retirees, this is a bad decision on both a symbolic and financial level," McCord said.
    He couldn't be more right.
    Sure, $20,000 isn't a very large amount of money in the big scheme of things.
    But there is principle involved with this matter.
    It's no secret both the public employee's retirement system and the system which funds teacher retirements are in big financial trouble.
    According to McCord, the state currently has an unfunded pension liability of more than $40 billion.
    Yes, that's with a "b."
    The state legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett have been discussing ways to right the ship when it comes to the retirement system.
    Whatever they come up with, it's likely going to fall way short when it comes to the commitments which are already made.
    Just last week, the Wayne Highlands School Board had a discussion about the woes of the retirement system and how it will almost assuredly cause local taxpayers to dig deeper into their pockets over the next decade.
    Page 2 of 2 - As for the other fund which handles state employees, part of the proposals being floated include changing the benefit system.
    McCord said because of that, it "sends the wrong signal" when the SERS board "decides to be part of the problem instead of the solution, even in a small way."
    He's right.
    In this day and age of golden parachutes for top executives, workers are frustrated on all levels.
    Whether it's at a fast-food chain or at a multi-billion dollar corporation, too many times workers are seeing the top brass take home large bonuses while raises for the employees are non-existent.
    Yet that doesn't seem to stop either corporate big shots or those in state government from proceeding forward with handing out raises in times of dire financial straits.
    Despite McCord's opposition, the SERS board voted to give Clark the raise.
    It simply sends out the wrong message to the taxpayers.
    McCord said one of his reasons for not recommending the raise is the fact Clark has been on the job for less than two years.
    McCord also said he has criticized Clark for making the SERS program "fee heavy and lacking in transparency."
    Certainly, there are politics at play here. McCord has not been a big fan of the Corbett administration and has been vocal about his disagreements.
    However, the fact remains he makes some good points and it is disappointing to see this kind of thing take place when so many people across the Commonwealth are hurting.
    It does send the wrong message.
     
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