In the guise of a solution, Gov. Corbett's pension reform plan would make the problem worse. It would weaken employee retirement funds, eventually cost taxpayers $179 million more a year, and add $5 billion to unfunded pension liabilities by 2019, and even more afterward.
Those aren't the only reasons the legislature should reject the governor's plan. It also imperils the state's finances, and its proposed cut to current employees' benefits would not survive a legal challenge.
The state caused the pension problem by increasing employee benefits during the boom years while reducing the government's contributions to the pension funds. (State and school employees, it must be noted, never stopped contributing an average of 7 percent of their paychecks to the funds.) Now Corbett wants to balance the state budget by reducing the government's contributions for the next five years, which is the same reckless policy that deflated the funds in the first place. His timetable coincides with his prospective tenure in office, making it sound suspiciously like a political trick.