Corbett's agenda creeps ahead slowly
HARRISBURG — State lawmakers signaled on Tuesday they are moving ahead with two of Gov. Tom Corbett's top priorities — raising billions for transportation projects and slashing public pension costs — though serious questions about both remain.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved a $2.5 billion transportation bill, underwritten primarily by an increase in a wholesale gas tax that is expected to be passed on to drivers at the pump. The 13-1 committee vote brought together urban Democrats and conservative midstate Republicans.
“Four years ago, Gov. Rendell drove a bus through my district and announced at every stop in the 41st District that I have the worst roads and bridges per capita of any other senatorial district in the state of Pennsylvania,” Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, told the packed committee hearing room. “I was with him then, and ... in my area, the effect is going to be just huge.”
The Senate's transportation bill is larger than the $1.8 billion that Corbett initially sought, and House Republican leaders are cool to such a large gas tax increase.
Meanwhile, key lawmakers said they will introduce Corbett's pension overhaul plan in separate but similar House and Senate bills in spite of resistance from some GOP leaders and vocal opposition from Democrats and employee unions.
The plan would reduce pension benefits for more than 370,000 current state and school employees, beginning in 2015, to save about $12 billion over 30 years.
Sen. Mike Brubaker of Lancaster County said that unless drastic measures are taken, the unfunded liability of the state's two major pension funds will reach $65 billion by 2018, forcing spending cuts or tax increases.
On Friday, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, said the Senate may limit the focus of any benefit cuts to new hires because of questions about the legality of Corbett's more far-reaching proposal to freeze the benefits for all employees and replace them with reduced benefits in 2015.
Unions have vowed to challenge Corbett's proposal in court if it is approved by the Legislature.
The moves occur as the Republican-controlled Legislature scrambles to wrap up work on a budget and Corbett's priorities by July 1.
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.
- Pa. welfare workers threatened with firings over financial forms
- Trio charged with running $54M green-energy Ponzi scheme
- Retired LCB official, expected to plead guilty to kickbacks, stands to lose $52K pension
- Pennsylvania welfare employees targeted in crackdown
- Casey, Coons become 32nd, 33rd senators to back nuclear deal with Iran
- Bishop’s ex-assistant in Venango charged with Lutheran synod thefts
- Judge OKs gender surgery for 48-year-old called mentally incompetent by parents