Corbett’s Coming Pension Fight: Altering Benefits for Current Teachers and State Employees

Pension reform isn’t the high-profile, headline-grabbing kind of initiative that most politicians would stake their re-election on, but Gov. Tom Corbett isn’t most politicians.

Corbett, who came into office promising to right the commonwealth’s fiscal ship, is not only making pension reform his signature policy going into re-election, he’s betting this year’s budget on it.

The political danger is two-fold: Real reform risks the considerable ire of nearly 300,000 current state employees and school teachers as well as the unions that represent them. And the details of pensions, generally, make the average taxpayer’s eyes glaze over.

Indeed, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the union representing public school teachers, is already saying this is going to be “a significant fight.”

But the numbers are clear: If something isn’t done, the outrage of the past two years over cuts to education, social services, environmental programs, state museums, and transportation will seem like a quiet day in the park.

Corbett’s budget secretary, Charles Zogby, admits the last two budgets have “really wrung the cloth – if not dry, really dry.”

But mandated payments into the pension systems continue to rise at alarming rates.

Pension payments will increase by more than half a billion next year, with another half a billion increase the following year, and yet another the year after that.

Click here to read the full article by Dan Gilliland published on PennLive.com (January 18, 2013)

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