Veto, special session studied by Corbett to push Pa. pension reform
HARRISBURG — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is strongly considering using his veto power on Thursday to strike funding for the Legislature and calling a special session on pension reform, sources close to the governor say.
The legislature's operating budget would be $280 million in the 2014-15 budget. There's $50 million in proposed funding for legislative agencies and up to $153 million in a so-called legislative surplus. All three are in play as Corbett considers vetoing budget line items, sources told the Tribune-Review.
The governor has a constitutional obligation to sign a balanced budget.
Lawmakers failed to act on Corbett's request to address the cost of public employee pensions before recessing for summer. They're scheduled to return in mid-September.
Cutting the Legislature's money and calling lawmakers back into session could be an attractive move to a governor seeking re-election and trailing in public opinion polls. Yet analysts who know Corbett aren't sure he'll do so. He could sign or veto the entire $29.1 billion budget.
If Corbett signs the budget — or most of it — no general tax increases would result. It would raise spending by $502 million, or 1.8 percent. The governor's office said he plans to make an announcement Thursday.
Legislative leaders urged Corbett to sign the budget. A budget-related bill approved this week helps keep the budget in balance, supporters contend.
“We think the governor needs to sign the budget and move forward,” House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Marshall, said, calling it a “responsible product.” He said the House is close to agreement on pension reform.
A full veto would affect many stakeholders, though most employees would get paid. It potentially could delay money for groups receiving millions of dollars from the state, particularly social services such as day care providers hit hard in 2009 during a 101-day budget impasse under ex-Gov. Ed Rendell.
If lawmakers don't find a solution to what Corbett calls a pension crisis, costs will steadily rise for taxpayers. Pennsylvania will raise payments into the state's pension systems by $600 million in the new budget year. The state has $47 billion in unfunded liability in pension obligations.
The Legislature's surplus account was established by its leaders to keep the legislature running if a governor vetoes its funds. They started to build it when former Gov. Dick Thornburgh vetoed legislative funding.
There's no question many lawmakers would be angry if Corbett cuts legislative funding, said J. Wesley Leckrone, a political science professor at Widener University in Chester. Leckrone said he doesn't believe vetoing legislative funding “would resonate with Pennsylvanians.”
Corbett would have a better shot at achieving pension reform by signing the budget and not axing legislative funds, Leckrone said.
But if Corbett takes on lawmakers' spending, it will attract news coverage in the “dog days” of summer as he prepares to take on Democrat Tom Wolf, a York businessman, in November. Wolf led by 22 points in a Franklin & Marshall College poll last week.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 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.
- Starkey: Hockey hypocrites, unite
- Prime time not kind to Heinz Field
- State police trooper seriously hurt when hit by vehicle in East Huntingdon
- Steelers offense puts up gaudy numbers in season’s 1st half
- Penguins veteran defenseman Scuderi’s game looking up
- Woman’s body found in Mars home
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger, offense must adjust with CB Smith out
- Clairton police rounding up street-level drug dealers
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I’m proud to be gay’
- Lifesharing allows families to open homes, hearts to disabled
- Kiski Valley-based ring charged with hundreds of thefts over 10 communities