Dems, Pa. budget chief wrangle over payments to state pension system

    Governor Tom Corbett’s budget secretary has taken aim at a few criticisms of the governor’s $29.4 billion spending plan for Pennsylvania.Budget Secretary Charles Zogby testified Monday during the first day of what’s expected to be three weeks of hearing on the budget plan.

    Democrats object particularly to one proposal that would reduce state payments into public pension funds.

    The state should make good on its rising scheduled payments into the retirement systems, several have said. Anything less would be “kicking the can down the road.”

    But Zogby dismissed the Democrats’ indignation over such a move as “election- ear politics.”

    “Pensions were underfunded … teacher pensions by $4 billion, and the tab was left to increase right when this, when Gov. Corbett took office,” he said. “I didn’t hear the same hue and cry over that.”

    The first tough questions on the budget’s use of one-time revenue sources and revenue predictions came from Sen. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, who is up for re-election this year.

    What happens if optimistic revenue projections don’t come to fruition, he asked.

    Zogby, who said the assumptions will be better informed as June approaches, said he thinks the administration can put funds into reserve to deal with any unexpected hits in revenue.

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