December 3 2008

Regionally based economic policy organization strengthens statewide reach

First order of business: municipal pension reform


(HARRISBURG – December 4, 2008) – The Pennsylvania Economy League, the leading statewide economic policy organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has announced a new management structure that will drive its ongoing efforts to move the Commonwealth forward on issues of importance to the economic growth of Pennsylvania. Effective immediately, the organization will be led by a management committee composed of the executive directors of the organization’s three regional offices (Central, Southeast and Southwest).


The first managing director of the management committee is Kathryn Z. Klaber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania based in Pittsburgh. Ms. Klaber will retain her role as executive director of the Southwest regional office in addition to her managing director duties. The managing director will report to the statewide board of directors. The Economy League, of course, will continue to maintain its Harrisburg presence and staff. “Given the recent change in the leadership of our Harrisburg office, we had the opportunity to consider the best way to strengthen the Pennsylvania Economy League, one of our Commonwealth’s historic public policy assets,” said Lynne D. Schmidt, vice president, government and community affairs, PPG Industries and chair of the statewide board of the Pennsylvania Economy League. “We sought to unite the expertise and perspective that resides in our three regional offices - in Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia - with our presence in Harrisburg to take a more engaged stance on statewide issues.”


“The Economy League has long been about information, insight, and integrity. I believe we can add “impact” to the list of contributions from the Economy League to the policy debate in Harrisburg and around Pennsylvania,” said Klaber. “Our first order of business will be to focus on municipal pension reform. With severely strained market conditions, now is the time to address the widespread and serious problem of the multiplicity of small pension plans across our municipalities and the unfunded accrued municipal pension liabilities.” The Economy League has documented evidence of Pennsylvania’s municipal pension plan problems:

  • Pennsylvania has over 25% of the nation’s public employee pension plans;
  • It has four times as many plans as any other state;
  • The unfunded accrued liability of all the plans exceeds $5 billion; and
  • Over 65% of the plans have 10 or fewer members, resulting in high administrative costs per employee.


The organization’s  regional offices have often focused on statewide issues. In the past year, the Economy League has worked closely with Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and with chambers of commerce and other business organizations across the state to support successful reform of the collection of the earned income tax (EIT). Economy League research estimated that $237 million in EIT goes uncollected by municipalities and school districts every year. Last month, the Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania released The Economic Impact of the Oil and Gas Industry in Pennsylvania, a new “state of the industry‟ report. Similarly, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia recently released, Everyone's Business: Building Minority Businesses to Scale, which recommends public and private sector strategies needed to build a flourishing minority-owned business community. “Economy League offices have worked together over the years on concerns that affect every region of Pennsylvania,” said Steve Wray, executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. “The key issues that will shape our future – economic growth, streamlined governance, strong and sustainable infrastructure and a skilled workforce - are the same across the Commonwealth.”


“We have built a reputation for detailed analysis and strategic planning for municipalities and school districts, especially in the center of the Commonwealth that is served by the Economy League’s Central Division. Because we know how the rubber meets the road, it is time for us to take that insight to Harrisburg to inform statewide policies that affect municipal governments and school districts,” said Gerald Cross, executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League of Central PA. The Pennsylvania Economy League, Inc. (PEL), established in 1936, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy research and development organization. Our mission is to provide critical information, perspective and support to the business, civic, and governmental leadership of our communities and our state in their efforts to make Pennsylvania a better place to live, work and do business.