The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 12, 2012

Missed chance

---- — Isn't it strange that retired state legislator Merle Phillips said the age for retirement should be raised, and an increase in contributions by current state employees would be enough to fix the Pennsylvania pension plan problems? In reference to the Nov. 28th local section headline, I learned that Phillips made $89,300 in his last year employed by the state, contributed a total of $106,393 over his career to the retirement fund, and manages to receive an annual pension of $120,261. This obviously shows that something needs done.

In the article, it also stated that in the early 2000s he voted to raise pension benefits for current employees and currently defends his vote by stating that it was before the country fell into an "economic collapse.: However, if I remember correctly, he was still in office until 2011. We obviously witnessed the "economic collapse" in those 10 years. Did he or the other current legislators mention cutting benefits for current employees, or paying more into the system, or raising their retirement age?

This pension plan needs to be addressed. I am not in a position to fault these legislators for their work and accomplishments. I just think it is arrogant to suggest that raising employee contributions and raising their retirement ages is the fix, especially when it comes from a freshly retired state legislator who voted to raise benefits, when in his words, the economy was well off, and then not do the opposite when things changed for the worse, all well in office. These actions may need to be taken, but perhaps someone else could have suggested it. Again, no disrespect to Merle Phillips, but it was a poor comment.

Ryan Harris, Potts Grove