State House Sound Bites

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

Corbett's pension push

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 26, 2014 4:24 PM

Governor Corbett is calling on House Republican leaders to hold a vote on a pension overhaul proposal that has so far failed to garner enough support to pass.

It is rare for either the House or Senate to take a vote on a bill when passage isn't guaranteed. But during an even rarer visit to the Capitol newsroom, the governor said a failed bill would be a good thing, smoking out lawmakers who remain resistant.

"I think the people are entitled to see where their legislators are on this," said Corbett. "We've talked to the House recently. Let's get a vote."

Corbett added that Pennsylvania's borrowing ability hangs in the balance. Passing the pension overhaul, he said, would stop credit rating agencies from following through on threats to downgrade the state's bond rating.

But that's not a guarantee. The rating agencies have warned lawmakers to do something that reins in the state's pension debt, approaching $50 billion dollars. The proposal in the House now would do little to reduce the existing pension debt, according to the state's actuary. Nor does the bill move Pennsylvania toward larger payments on that debt.

Corbett insisted that the proposed pension benefits change would send a signal to the rating agencies, forestalling any downgrade.

"It helps us demonstrate that we're willing to start working on it," said Corbett. "Doing nothing doesn't help us at all."

Then, Corbett repeated his push for a House vote on the measure.

"The people of Pennsylvania are entitled to know who are willing to work on pensions and who aren't," he said. There were cheers from the Capitol rotunda, where big television screens had been set up to display World Cup match between Germany and the USA.

"Did we score?" Corbett asked.

"That was for you, governor," someone said.

"That was not for me," said Corbett.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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