It's time to lead, Governor
By Colin McNickle
Published: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
Gov. Tom Incognito, er, Corbett suddenly is everywhere. Seems his handlers have decided to make him more available to the media after two years of relative cloisterism, at least where regular, extended and meaningful Fourth Estate interaction is concerned.
While that's a good thing for the public, it does present some challenges for a governor who's far from the camera hound that predecessor Ed Rendell was and a fella who always prefers to let his actions speak louder than any words.
But Mr. Corbett's “everyman” persona cuts both ways — viewed by some as a convenient way to dodge the tough issues.
Take, for instance, the state pension crisis.
Monday last the Corbett administration issued a report warning that the $41 billion unfunded liability of the State Employees' Retirement System and the Public School Employees' Retirement System could lead to financial catastrophe — higher taxes and borrowing costs, program cuts and retarded economic growth.
Add $25 billion to the hole in a mere nine years if no action is taken.
It's a mess of Harrisburg's making — legislative pension-jacking with constitutional protection barring reductions, cost-of-living increases and deferred state contributions that delayed piper paying for years.
It's a toxic brew that boils and bubbles and, as noted, is sure to cause all kinds of troubles. It's a pestiferous problem that screams for leadership.
And what did Penn's Wood get from Corbett? No specific recommendations, spokeswoman Christine Cronkright told the Trib's Deb Erdley. The administration can't “develop solutions in a vacuum,” she said; “the next step is concerted work, with the Legislature and other stakeholders.”
That's all fine and dandy — if you're into boilerplate flackdom gobbledygook and a Republican-controlled state government, particularly a non-delivering GOP-led House and Senate, that has woefully underperformed (and that's being charitable).
What's that line again from Corinthians? “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”
Frankly, the governor's pension passivity gives the impression that he's in over his head.
Goodness gracious, it's not as if Corbett doesn't have a wealth of resources from which to draw input for everything from a basic outline for pension reform to a quite detailed step-by-step plan that he can push. Think of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy. Think of the Commonwealth Foundation. Think of the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors. And on and on and on.
“The governor does have to provide leadership,” says Jake Haulk, a Ph.D. economist and president of the Allegheny Institute. “The Legislature will never deal with difficult problems unless pushed and even then only rarely.”
That would be a Legislature that, institutionally over the decades, specializes in self-dealing, no matter what party's in the majority.
“After getting burned on school choice and liquor store sales, it appears the governor has no confidence that anything he recommends will get anywhere on this issue,” Dr. Haulk adds.
But now is no time to be a shrinking violet. Tom Corbett has to take to the everyman pulpit. He first, and repeatedly, must explain in simple language how Pennsylvania's pension path is not sustainable and that — sans commonsense and long-overdue reforms (primarily switching to defined-contribution plans for new hires, de-cudgeling organized labor and further shrinking government) — financial ruin awaits us all.
Then he must publicly, and repeatedly, challenge the Lollygags of the Legislature to stop their cluster-clucking and do their duty.
It's time to lead, Governor. Pick up that trumpet. And give Pennsylvanians more than just spittle.
Colin McNickle is the Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or email@example.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Agent confirms Mendenhall retiring from NFL
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- With no money for upkeep, Prospect Cemetery Association board to disband
- Brackenridge may be required by law to maintain cemetery
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- SHOOTING FOR THE STARS IN UNIONTOWN
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Troop cuts worry vets in Fayette
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- New Kensington-Arnold board debates dress code
- FAA asks authority for updates