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.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Sen. Corman on pensions; Author of The Eureka Factor

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | May 14, 2015 2:07 PM
State capitol at 4 o'clock 600 x 340.jpg

Photo by Scott LaMar/WITF

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, May 15, 2015:

A $53 billion unfunded liability for the pensions of retired state workers and public school employees would seem to be a recipe for fiscal disaster.

And indeed it is according to some state lawmakers from both parties. 

But that's where much of the agreement ends. 

Pensions has become a political issue.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has said he wants to borrow money to pay down the debt but not touch current benefit packages.

Republicans have a different point of view. 

This week, a bill was approved in the Republican dominated Senate which would have no impact on current retirees, but would require current workers to pay more for their benefits, and new hires to switch to a defined contribution or 401K style plan.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman of Centre County is the bill's sponsor.  He'll appear on Friday's Smart Talk.

Also, have you ever had an idea, thought, or insight that popped into your head and left you energized and creative?  Neuroscientists John Kounios and Mark Beeman write about it in their new book, The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain.  Kounios, who teaches at Drexel University appears on Friday's program to discuss the book.

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  • Bob Nunn img 2015-05-15 09:05

    Corman's plan is nothing more that the person that ate the steak and now doesn't want to pay for it. Why does he thing that this attitude is the correct attitude to have towards ones debts.

    Where is Comran's plan to address their pension and the outragous perks that they get. Not to mention what the receive from about addressing that issue.

  • horse2hound4 img 2015-05-15 09:11

    It should be pointed out that those in the pension plan have helped to underwrite other state expenditures -- money that should have been paid into the pension plans was instead used for other priorities. This is a crisis that was created by inappropriate spending by the legislature. Those in the pension plan were asked to pay more in order to opt in to the improved pension. They have been paying their share -- the state has not.

  • Jim Foster img 2015-05-15 09:20

    I have been and continue to be a supporter of Gov. Wolf. But, Sen. Corman makes some compelling points about our state pension crisis and how to fix it. Our current problems were caused in large part by bad decisions approved by both Democrats and Republicans in the late 90s and early 2000s. Now, both sides need to come together to develop sounds solutions. To date, Gov. Wolf has mostly focused on funding education, a Marcellus Shale severance tax and replacing property taxes with income taxes. He also needs to step up and engage with the GOP on the pension crisis. He hasn't really done so thus far.

  • Vicki Taylor img 2015-05-15 09:36

    If a private organization reneged on its promises and neglected funding a pension obligation - that organization would be shamed and criticized and those pensions would be protected by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The senator is throwing state employees under the bus after failing to properly fund the pensions. Also, the money isn't going to Harrisburg. It's going to state employees as it was promised. Contractually promised! Finally, when the private sector moves from defined benefits to defined contribution they only do it for future employees existing employees are maintained.

  • fredeten img 2015-06-18 08:03

    If Corman has such a hard-on for state workers and teachers who frequently apply for fast cash advances than offer one of those 80 & Out deals (Age plus Years of Service) throw in the same Platnum Medical Plans that all legislators get when they leave office, allow those same state workers and teachers to cash out on all annual and sick leave, problem solved! I am sure those who fall under this plan would leave in droves, then the un-funded pension issue just may reach critical mass.