Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Budget Secretary Charles Zogby

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 19, 2013 3:15 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, June 20:

PA capitol from angle w fountain 300 x 170.jpg

This is the busiest time of year at the state capitol in Harrisburg.  The last few days before a fiscal year ends and a new one is set to begin has legislative leaders working overtime to win final approval of a new state budget.

Last February, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a $28.4 billion spending plan. 

The State House, with Republicans in the majority, has passed its own $28.3 billion plan, which is similar to the governor's.  It increases spending on public education by $100 million and would cut business taxes by some $360 million.  The Senate is now considering the House bill.

Corbett has also proposed privatizing state liquor sales, increasing funding for transportation infrastructure, and government and education worker pension reform.  All three could have major budget implications.

Pennsylvania's Secretary of the Budget Charles Zogby appears on Thursday's Radio Smart Talk to provide an update on negotiations and the state's fiscal situation.

witf Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson will also be on the program.

Charles Zogby and Mary Wilson .jpg

PA Secretary of the Budget Charles Zogby and witf's Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson

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  • John Orris img 2013-06-20 08:13

    Wasn't the pension system funded, but instead of placing the money into the system politicians diverted the funds for their own pet projects.

    Didn't the Union want to switch to a 401k style system years ago. But because politicians wanted to maintain control of the funds they shot that ideas down?

  • John Orris img 2013-06-20 08:18

    All the risk for most part?????

    Political mumbo jumbo.

  • John Orris img 2013-06-20 08:21

    Is the commonwealth going to be looking at the outrageous prices that it pays consultants.

    From what I understand at times we the taxpayers pay 2 to 3 times the cost of doing the same work in house.

  • John Orris img 2013-06-20 08:26

    PA ranks 19th in corporate taxes, how is that anywhere near being the highest.

  • Rich img 2013-06-20 08:51

    Zogby is the epitome of the political liar.

    Someone says accurately that the average state pensioner receives 20K a year. His reponse is to say 50k --- by ignoring everyone except people who worked 35+ years and politicians like himself.

    I would think it a good thing that most state employees also spend 10-25 years in private industry.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-06-20 08:54

    Thomas in Lancaster writes:

    i would like to ask.....after almost 100years the state and school pension was over funded....why did the last 10 years did it end up the way it is? i am a state/school employee and there were times when the schools and state were funding the pensions at 15-20% of payroll then in the 2000's the state decided not to fund. the mistake was with the state and the schools if i am correct and this needs to be known.

    • Jay Pagni img 2013-06-20 13:01

      A combination of factors have contributed to the situation we face today: a decade of essentially zero percent investment growth (including sevaral "major hits" to the stock market during the 2000s); pension benefit enhancements without a corresponding way to pay for those enhancements; and the actions of previous administrations and legislatures that arbitrarily underfunded pensions.

      The systems were riding high following the tech boom of the 1990's. Both systems were more than 100% funded due to significant investment gains. Those gains quickly eroded in the wake of the terroist attacks, the credit crunch, and great recession. Combine that with nearly $6 billion in underfunding, and we are presented with the large unfunded liability we have today.

      Thomas is correct there was a time in the 1980's when the state was making 12-15% contribution payments to the systems. However, this was short-lived. The spiraling growth in our pension obligations will reach about 30% of payroll and remain around that level for nearly 20 years if we don't take action to reform the system.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-06-20 08:55

    Manuel from Carlisle writes:

    One thing nobody is willing to point out is that over the past couple decades, we have almost ALL moved to this style of retirement plan. However, the time has come for the free ride to end for government employment. We ALL should be on an even playing field. They should not be treated as a special, protected class simply because they work for the government.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-06-20 08:56

    Blaine from York writes:

    The Sec. says pensions are not sustainable.

    The only difference is where the risk is.

    pensions - defined benifit - risk to state

    401k - defined contribution - risk to employee

    If 401k so great ensure that they are paid well enough to be able to put money into retirement.

    Another example of the GREATEST GENERATION shafting those of us who are following them.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-06-20 08:59

    Evelyn writes:

    When members of the general assembly retire, they get a multiplier of TWO. Which is how they get TWICE their salary in retirement. THEY SHOULD (AND BETTER BE) INCLUDED IN THIS.

    • Jay Pagni img 2013-06-20 13:13

      Governor Corbett's pension reform plan includes public and school district employees, legislators and judges.

      I also understand that the defined contribution plan voted out of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday includes legislators, judes and other elected officials upon re-election to office.

      For more information, goto and review SB 922 introduced by Senator Brubaker.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-06-20 09:00

    Dave from Carlisle writes:

    Im sorry, but I don’t agree with the caller saying that it is all of the legislators fault. The teachers and state employees negotiated these salaries and benefits, so it is at least a 50/50 responsibility. I am frustrated by people that get 20 holidays a year, great medical benefits, etc complaining about their benefits that we all pay for and now failing to take responsibility for the promlem it has caused.

  • Rich img 2013-06-20 09:13

    Zogby is the epitome of the political liar.

    Someone says accurately that the average state pensioner receives 20K a year. His reponse is to say 50k --- by ignoring everyone except people who worked 35+ years and politicians like himself.

    I would think it a good thing that most state employees also spend 10-25 years in private industry.