Hundreds rally for more school funds, halt on Pa. pension changes

     An estimated 350 state and public sector workers have rallied at the state Capitol to encourage more funding for education and human services. (Mary Wilson/for NewsWorks)

    An estimated 350 state and public sector workers have rallied at the state Capitol to encourage more funding for education and human services. (Mary Wilson/for NewsWorks)

    About 350 state and public sector workers rallied Monday in Harrisburg, calling for more funding for education and human services in Pennsylvania.

    Members of the Service Employees International Union also were urging the governor to drop his calls for a pension system overhaul, which would include reducing the future benefits of current state and public school employees.

    Kathy Jellison, president of the SEIU Local 668, says her members aren’t simply asking for the status quo.

    “What we are proposing is that there are ways to save taxpayers’ money. We’re not for raising taxes, either. We’re all taxpayers too,” she said. “But there are ways to do it that would not impact the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.”

    Jellison said the governor has refused to meet with her union’s representatives on issues pertaining to the budget, a claim the Corbett administration says is untrue.

    A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Welfare says the administration has met with the SEIU on specific budget issues, such as state health centers.

    The union has considerable political muscle in the state — typically deployed on behalf of Democrats. At recent events in Harrisburg, the group heard from one declared Democratic candidate for governor as well as another rumored candidate.

    One Corbett aide points out the union has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a group producing television attack ads against Corbett.

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