With Pa. budget settled, Corbett still at odds with lawmakers over pension

    After waiting 10 days to sign the state budget, Gov, Tom Corbett has seemingly ended a standoff with Pennsylvania lawmakers by signing the document Thursday morning.

    But tensions still are running high, as Corbett continues to fight with his own Republican Party over what to do about the state pension system.

    Shortly after signing the $29.1 billion budget, Corbett sharply criticized legislators for failing to curb skyrocketing pension costs.

    “The General Assembly left Harrisburg earlier this month with unfinished business,” he said. “They need to come back and enact pension reform.”

    Senate Republicans fired back saying they are committed to a pension overhaul and calling the governor’s leadership on the issue disappointing.

    But it’s unlikely lawmakers will tackle such a thorny issue during an election year, according to Chris Borick, the head of the Muhlenberg College’s Institute of Public Opinion.

    “It is ambitious to think that the legislature will move on this,” he said. “But it’s also, for a governor trailing in the polls and struggling for survival, an item that is really, really important.”

    Corbett has not said whether he plans to call lawmakers back for a special summer session to try to make a deal — only that “all options” are on the table.

    And, given Corbett’s low approval rating, Borick said he may not have much sway — even with the GOP.

    “In the case of Gov. Corbett, with his polls being so low, and his public standing so diminished, his ability to leverage political capital, in terms of making legislators listen to him, is fairly minimal,” Borick said.

    But the governor wields influence over the public purse. Using his line-item veto power, Corbett cut part of the state spending plan including $65 million in funds for the General Assembly.

    This is a corrected post, due to an editing error, a previous version incorrectly listed the total of the Pennsylvania state budget.

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