Corbett renews his pitch for pension changes

Posted: June 28, 2014

HARRISBURG - Gov. Corbett on Thursday called on the state legislature to show its hand and vote on a bill to rein in the rapidly rising cost of public employee pensions.

"The people need to know who is willing to work on behalf of the taxpayer," said Corbett, who in an unusual move, walked up to the Capitol newsroom to deliver his message directly to reporters.

The governor has said he is willing to let the state's June 30 budget deadline pass if legislators don't act on his priority initiatives, including changes to the pension system.

As it stands, negotiations on the issue in the legislature are bogged down in disagreements.

The governor backs a proposal that would only impact new employees, and would combine a traditional, defined-benefit pension with a 401(k)-style plan to provide a smaller benefit than current employees receive. It is expected to save the state more than $10 billion over 30 years.

As he spoke, Senators were preparing to consider changes to a $29.1 billion budget proposal passed Wednesday by the Republican-controlled House. That plan came in hundreds of millions of dollars below than Corbett's initial proposal, and hinges in part on $380 million projected to come from the sale of the state liquor system - a sale that's unlikely because it lacks widespread support.

Senate leaders have not ruled out new taxes - including on natural gas drilling - to help close a shortfall of at least $1.4 billion in the state budget for next year.

For his part, Corbett has said that if the legislature does not move on a pension bill, he will not even consider any new taxes.

Said Corbett: "I can't see today a budget coming to me real fast."

acouloumbis@phillynews.com

717-787-5934

@AngelasInk

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