Corbett Says Funding for Education Will Depend on Fate of Public-Employee Pension Costs

Gov. Corbett said Wednesday that he would not slash funding in his forthcoming budget for basic education or the four state-related universities, although he cautioned that could change if there was no legislative giveback on one of his priorities: reining in public-employee pension costs.

“This is the driver,” Corbett said of tackling what his administration has called Pennsylvania’s pension crisis. “We are going to present a budget based on some assumptions, and based upon getting some reforms done. And if they can’t get the reform done, then there’s going to have to be some adjustments to the budget.”

With that, the governor drew a line that could end up defining the coming budget battle in the Capitol. On Feb. 5, he is scheduled to deliver his budget proposal to the legislature, and he and top aides have spent the last few months crisscrossing the state to build his case for why pension costs – the “tapeworm,” as he has repeatedly called it – should take precedence.

Speaking before the Inquirer Editorial Board on Wednesday, Corbett and his budget secretary, Charles Zogby, reiterated many of the points contained in a 19-page report Zogby’s office issued in the fall. They said the pension problem had been created by a combination of generous enhancements to retirement benefits over the last decade, lackluster investment returns, and nearly a decade of underfunding by state government and local school districts.

Click here to read the full article by Angela Couloumbis published in the Philadelphia Inquirer (January 24, 2013).

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