Home Heartland Square Pennsylvania Quick hits: Pennsylvania news in brief for Friday, Nov. 1

Quick hits: Pennsylvania news in brief for Friday, Nov. 1

quick-hits:-pennsylvania-news-in-brief-for-friday,-nov. 1

Wolf signs bill changing “vocational schools” to “career and technical schools”

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed legislation renaming “vocational-technical schools” as “career and technical schools.”

The name change is intended to alter the perception of the schools and will “help demonstrate that these institutions are preparing students for occupations that require a strong knowledge base, technical skills, and critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, who proposed the change in a Senate bill that was amended into House Bill 265.

The bill will also create a statewide database of courses so that students will know which classes will transfer to other institutions.

Marsy’s Law sponsor reacts to judge’s ruling

State Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, said she was disappointed in a ruling that will stop votes for Marsy’s Law from being counted.

Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler agreed that a vote on the victim’s right measure would continue, but the votes could not be counted until a decision is made about challenges presented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU said the proposed constitutional amendment affects other parts of the state constitution.

“I am stunned the Commonwealth Court would move to take this important moment away from the voters of Pennsylvania,” Delozier said. “I am also saddened that the ACLU, despite its name, chooses to recognize only certain people’s civil liberties. They say they are not against victims. However, actions speak louder than words, and their actions block the liberties of crime victims.”

Audit shows state owes Pittsburgh almost $1 million in pension funds

An audit of the city of Pittsburgh’s pension funds shows the state owes the city almost $1 million, according to information from Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

Pittsburgh officials did not correctly report the number of employees eligible for state pensions, leading the state to underpay the city about $855,776 between 2017 and 2019, according to DePasquale.

The underpayment does not represent the entire shortage of the city’s pension fund. The pension plan was only 55.9 percent funded according to the audit, which is considered moderately distressed.

Pittsburgh has the second largest unfunded pension in the state, only behind Philadelphia.

House committee passes pension reform bills

The House State Government Committee passed three bills aimed at reducing Pennsylvania’s unfunded retirement benefits.

If approved by the House and Senate, House Bill 1960 will consolidate the offices of the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS). House Bill 1982 will allow prefunding for SERS. And House Bill 1996 will require both retirement systems to establish independent committees including an audit committee and executive committee.

Taxpayers would need to pay $17,100 each to fund the retirement systems, said Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming.

“That’s unacceptable and it shows why these bills are necessary” Everett said.