News

Analyst doubts lawmakers will take on pensions this year

Written by Marie Cusick | Jul 11, 2014 4:20 AM
corbett_budget2.jpg

Photo by (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)

Governor Corbett, left, arrives with Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, right, for a news conference to discuss the signing of the state budget Thursday in Harrisburg.

(Harrisburg) -- After waiting 10 days to sign the state budget, Governor Corbett has seemingly ended a standoff with state lawmakers. But tensions are still running high, as Corbett continues to fight with his own party over what to do about the state pension system.

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

He used his executive power to line-item veto parts of the spending plan, eliminating $65 million in funds for the General Assembly.

Senate Republicans fired back, saying they are committed to a pension overhaul and calling the governor’s leadership on the issue disappointing. They added his cuts are “horribly concerning” and accised him of using the budget process as a game.

Political science professor Chris Borick, Director of Muhlenberg College’s Institute of Public Opinion, says it’s unlikely lawmakers will tackle such a thorny issue in an election year.

“It is ambitious to think that the legislature will move on this, 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.

“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," says Borick.

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