Almost exactly three months after Gov. Tom Corbett first outlined his plan to overhaul Pennsylvania’s pension systems, state House and Senate lawmakers have agreed to sponsor the proposals in their respective chambers.
State and school employee unions are firmly opposed to the package, which would reduce unearned benefits for current state employees and enroll future employees in a 401(k)-style pension plan.
The plan would also lower the commonwealth’s scheduled payments on its existing $47 billion pension debt, which would take some of the pressure off of next year’s budget.
Crafting next year’s spending plan will be even tougher than expected, since state revenues are down, Corbett said.
“In light of the budget projections — and you know they do change, we will have discussions, I was meeting with the leadership yesterday about the next few weeks, getting through the budget at the end of June,” the governor said Tuesday. “But it just heightens the reason that this has to get done, as far as I’m concerned.”
But neither House nor Senate GOP leaders are lining up to support the measure, which all but promises a court challenge as well as outrage from state and school employees.
Among Republican lawmakers distancing themselves from the plan is state Rep. Glen Grell. His Cumberland County district is full of state employees — and he thinks the Legislature should pass something this year.
But he disagrees with parts of the governor’s plan, and he doubts it can pass by the end of June.
“Eight weeks to do something as substantial as this is unlikely to me,” he said.
Corbett’s budget proposal baked in $175 million in savings that would have come from enacting his pension overhaul.
Now, he says, it will be up to lawmakers to decide where to cut spending if they won’t support his plan.