Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett, Trailing in Polls, Says He Will “Force Action” on Pension Reform

Tom Corbett

There’s less than two months until Pennsylvania residents will decide who becomes their next governor, and incumbent Tom Corbett finds himself trailing in polls by 15 points to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.

Pension reform has been a central facet of Corbett’s campaign, and he doubled down on that stance Wednesday when he said he would “force action” on pension reform if he is re-elected. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“If I don’t get reelected for four more years, there will be nothing done about this, because Mr. [Tom] Wolf says there is not a pension problem,” Corbett said.

If he wins a second term, Corbett said, he would call a special session of the legislature early next year to force action on pensions, including for municipal workers. He said Scranton is distressed because of unaffordable pension obligations and predicted some school districts in Pennsylvania will come “doggone close to bankruptcy” without a solution.

Pension360 has previously covered polling data suggesting Pennsylvania voters are much less engaged on pension issues than they are on other topics, such as education. Corbett acknowledged as much on Wednesday in a chat with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board:

In the governor’s view, he is hurting politically because he has taken on issues “no one else will touch.” He mentioned his efforts to cut future pension costs, to end the system of state-controlled liquor stores, and to privatize management of the state lottery. The legislature, controlled by fellow Republicans, has stymied Corbett on all three priorities.

“If I had been looking toward reelection, do you think I would have taken on pensions, when all it does is get everyone upset?” Corbett asked. He added that he hoped voters would give him credit for trying.

Tom Wolf does not support Tom Corbett’s pension reform plan. In a statement Wednesday night, a Wolf spokesman characterized Corbett’s plan as “kicking the can down the road”.