Senate's shift might explain lack of major legislative achievements

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Aug 18, 2014 4:00 AM

(Harrisburg) -- The state Legislature is on its traditional summer break, and an analyst says as Republicans have started to splinter, especially in the Senate, getting legislation through has become harder for Governor Corbett.

As of late, he hasn't managed to convince his fellow Republicans in the Senate and House that his causes are worth supporting. The Governor's office, House and Senate are all controlled by the G.O.P

And the Senate has historically been less partisan compared to the House.

Franklin & Marshall College political science professor Terry Madonna says some Republicans have adopted the more extreme positions of the Tea Party, while others hold a more centrist view.

"On his two major priorities of the moment, pension reform and liquor privitization, the House and the Senate are not on the same page, despite the fact that his party controls both chambers of the Legislature," says Madonna.

In the past, Madonna says the Senate often moved past such divisions, but not lately.

"There's growing factionalism in the Senate among its conservative Republicans and its more moderate Republicans. All leading to not just a clash of ideology but a clash of personalities."

The pension overhaul bill supported by Governor Corbett would reduce benefits for future state employees in the hopes of reining in costs.

Opponents point it would have no effect on near-term pension costs, and suggest raising taxes instead.

On July 1, the House voted to send a pension overhaul bill back to committee.

Governor Corbett has tried to rally support for pension overhaul in a trip across this state this summer.

The primary legislation proposes shifting future state employees to a 401-k style plan, but opponents say it doesn't address short-term issues.

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