FOP and PPFFA Position on H.B. 414
FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE – PENNSYLVANIA STATE LODGE
PENNSYLVANIA PROFFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS ASSOCIATION
November 24, 2015
On behalf of over 50,000 active and retired Pennsylvania Police Officers and Firefighters, the Fraternal Order of Police, Pennsylvania State Lodge, and the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association, oppose House Bill 414, PN 2545. The bill, as amended in Senate Finance on November 18, 2015, totally ignores two thirds of Pennsylvania’s municipal pension plans and arbitrarily singles out police officers and firefighters, forcing them into an inadequate mandatory savings plan instead of their current, modest pension plans.
In its current form, House Bill 414 virtually eliminates retirement security for municipal police officers, firefighters and their families. In place of their current, modest pensions, the bill provides a glorified savings plan that lacks even the most basic disability protections for those who become disabled while risking their lives in the protection of others. If passed this legislation would be devastating to police officers and firefighters especially considering that most, unlike all other municipal employees, are not permitted to participate in the Social Security system through their municipal employment. It is a shameful and unnecessary swipe at the retirement security of our most valuable public servants who daily place their lives on the line in the protection of all Pennsylvanians.
Touted as pension reform, it is clear that amended House Bill 414 is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to reduce earned well-funded modest pension benefits and eliminate collective bargaining for Pennsylvania’s police officers and firefighters. The most recent report from the Pennsylvania Public Employee Retirement Study Commission’s show that only 23 municipalities (representing 1.6% of all municipalities) are severely distressed. Additionally, according to statistics from the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs the overwhelming majority of municipal pensions are funded at a level of 80% or higher (most pension experts consider 80% funding level as “fully funded”).
Over the past several years, the Pennsylvania FOP and the PPFFA have actively participated in numerous discussions and pension task forces and have offered a variety of reforms that would improve the current pension systems. We will continue to work in good faith toward meaningful reforms. But HB 414 is not meaningful, it is not honest, and it is not reform. It displaces a well-funded pension system with a savings plan that does not adequately address the death and disability aspects of public safety employment, nor does it provide even a poverty-level benefit for retired members unless they work well beyond the years of useful public safety service.
For these reasons, the Pennsylvania FOP and the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters oppose HB 414, PN 2545, which will inflict real and lasting harm on Pennsylvania’s police officers, firefighters and their families. We respectfully ask that you oppose the bill.
If you have any questions about the FOP and PPFFA’s united position on HB 414, please feel free to contact us directly. Thank you for your continued support.
Les Neri, President Art Martynuska, President
Fraternal Order of Police Pennsylvania Professional
Pennsylvania State Lodge Fire Fighters Association
Mobile: 610-331-9448 Mobile: 814-525-0536