– In her commitment to fiscal responsibility, Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) voted against legislation that would significantly increase the already unsustainable state’s pension fund liability by enhancing retirement benefits for state employees and teachers who retired before July 1, 2001.
House Bill 1416
, which passed in the state House, proposes adding $1.8 billion in debt to the pension system, impacting long-time retired school and state employees. Gaydos emphasized her understanding of the need to support retired teachers and state employees and the urgency of the situation but stressed the importance of finding a sustainable funding source. She argued that approving the legislation would lead to higher property taxes and further increase the already $80 billion unfunded liability of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and State Employee Retirement System (SERS), burdening the Commonwealth and its citizens.
Gaydos expressed her willingness to support similar legislation in the future, provided it includes a stable funding mechanism without relying on risky investments or tax hikes on homeowners. She agreed with a fellow House member’s suggestion that a more responsible approach, such as a prepaid payment proposal, could have achieved the bill’s objective.
“Although I am fully committed to supporting our deserving retired teachers and state employees, fiscal responsibility must guide our decisions,” said Gaydos. “We must ensure any enhancement in retirement benefits is backed by a stable, transparent funding source, not at the expense of escalating property taxes or increasing the state’s already substantial pension debt.”