State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Corbett still mum on possible pension reform plan

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 20, 2012 3:30 PM
Tom-Corbett-1.jpg

Gov. Corbett has made it no secret that pension reform tops his legislative to-do list in 2013. For months, he’s referred to rising pension costs as a Pac-Man poised to eat the state budget, but he says he’s still not ready to divulge what reform might look like.

And, to those prodding him to offer possible solutions, Corbett offers a reminder of the scale of the problem.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!” he said to a meeting of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania in Hershey on Tuesday. “There is no silver bullet and every one of you knows that, don’t you? This is going to be hard and it’s going to take a lot of work, it’s going to be difficult. But if we don’t do it now fifteen years from now, budgets are going to go entirely to pensions.”

Pension plans for state and public school employees are underfunded this year by $40 billion – even as the state placed $1.6 billion into the pension fund. In four years, the commonwealth is scheduled to put a total of $4.3 billion toward the fund.

The last legislative session produced proposals aiming to switch new state employees from a defined-benefit pension plan to one that resembles something more common in the private sector – a 401 (k)-style plan in which the employee’s contribution, not the benefit, is locked-in. Corbett doesn’t even hint at how much that will play into a reform plan.

He says only that he’s in talks with the Legislature, and will play this hand “close to the vest” well into next year.

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