Pennsylvania Lawmakers Return From Break, But Pension Reform Remains On Backburner

Tom Corbett

Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the capitol this week to convene for the fall legislative session. While they were out, Gov. Tom Corbett traveled around the state and continued to try to drum up public support for pension reform and his re-election.

But the pension reform bill currently in the House seems unlikely to go anywhere; lawmakers now have other bills on their mind. Reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Legislators returning today to the Capitol are expected to take up several bills during their month-long stint before the election, but there is little sign yet that the pension overhaul promoted by Gov. Tom Corbett will be among those headed to his desk.

House Republicans’ efforts to pass the legislation remaking retirement benefits for future state and public school workers consumed significant energy in the lead-up to the signing of the state budget in July. Mr. Corbett urged legislators to send him the bill, which would limit the defined pension benefit while adding a 401(k)-style plan, but with Democrats opposed, Republicans in the House were unable to rally enough votes from their own ranks.

The Republican governor embarked on a statewide tour to emphasize the costs of the existing systems, while House Republicans say they met to discuss pensions throughout the summer.

“We’re still within striking distance,” Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Marshall, said last week.

If the bill were to clear the House, it would face another hurdle in the Senate, where members instead approved a bill to move elected officials from the traditional pensions systems to 401(k)-style defined contribution plans.

The bills that are taking precedence over pension reform include a proposal to increase taxes on cigarettes and legislation surrounding ride-sharing programs such as Uber and Lyft.

Democrats are also working on raising the state’s minimum wage and securing more education funding.

 

Photo: Chesapeake Bay Program via Flickr CC License

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