Costa Blasts Corman for Lame-Duck Proposal

Corman-CostaHe was only elected last week but new Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) is already getting into a dispute with his Democratic counterpart.

According to John Micek of the Patriot-News, Sen. Corman suggested on an upcoming episode of WHP-TV’s “Face the State” program that the legislature might not wait for Tom Wolf’s inauguration to take action.

“Tom Corbett is governor for four years, not three years and 10 months,” the Senator said. “We get sworn into office on the first Tuesday [in January] and we might go to work.”

The indication that the legislature might meet for a so-called “lame-duck” session before Gov. Corbett leaves office on January 20th set off alarm bells in the Democratic caucus.

“The suggestion by the incoming Senate majority leader that the General Assembly engage in a lame-duck session in January – to take advantage of Governor Corbett’s last days in office – is inappropriate, unprecedented and inexcusable,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) wrote in a statement. “The citizens have spoken and they have chosen a different governor with new ideas to move Pennsylvania forward.”

“The ill-conceived idea to empower and use an unaccountable governor in his last days in office to revive already rejected policies would be viewed as an act of desperation and a serious blow to reform,” Sen. Costa continued. “I would be very surprised if Governor Corbett would allow himself to be used by Republican leadership in this way.”

Micek noted that Corman was “looking at the schedule” to see if there would be enough time for a new session. Therefore, it’s possible the new GOP leader will back off this tactic. Still, the legislature has avoided lame-duck sessions in recent history and Sen. Costa feels a break from that tradition would practically be an insult to Governor-elect Tom Wolf.

“The voters of Pennsylvania spoke loudly and clearly that they wanted Governor Wolf to work with lawmakers on solutions, not to perpetuate gridlock,” Costa concluded. “The idea that a January lame-duck session would be productive is ludicrous and counter to any conceivable measure of good government.”

This conflict is the first between the two Senators so far. Corman unseated Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) last week by harnessing the energy of conservatives who felt Pileggi was too moderate and labor-friendly. Meanwhile, Costa was easily re-elected. It will be intriguing to see if this first episode sets the tone for the relationship between the two party leaders of the legislature’s upper chamber.

9 Responses

  1. Yes there is:

    A majority of the members (of the House)shall constitute a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and compel the attendance of absent members. (Constitution, Article II, Section 10)

    “A majority of Senators elected shall constitute a quorum”

  2. Corman seems to be trying to go to extreme measure of engaging in a controversial lame duck General Assembly Session in Corbett’s last days as Governor. My QUESTION! With clear cut majorities in the State House and Senate do Republicans really fear an honest man Governor-Elect Tom Wolf elected by the voters of Pennsylvania that much? Shame on you.

  3. Why doesn’t Corbett quit on Jan. 5? Because he was elected to serve until Jan. 20. Don’t let Democrats get away with the fiction that a January legislative session would be a “lame duck” session. A “lame duck” session would be one that convenes between now and January, when the newly elected legislators join the other incumbents. After that, it’s not a “lame duck” session, and Corbett is still drawing a salary. Either change the Constitution to have the new governor take office at the same time as the lawmakers take office, or shut up and quit lying to voters about what is/is not a lame duck session. We’re paying these people. Why shouldn’t they work?

  4. Mr. Brooks – the idea of having fewer state employees decreasing the pension debt is specious and, quite frankly, somewhat absurd: the declining number of state employees is one of the causes of the increasing pension debt. Fewer employees are contributing into the system while more are retiring, which means that the system has been required to move to less risky, more liquid investments in order to make payments, significantly diminishing the return on investment and ballooning the pension debt.

  5. Mr. Birkos likes to make up numbers when it comes to the PLCB. There is no financial statement anywhere that shows $700 million being returned to the general fund.

    Having less government workers, like state store clerks, will reduce pension deficit too not only in the long term but forever. Perhaps PennDot should open well stocked Jaguar dealerships in rural counties because there is no money in Rural PA and the rest of us can support them through higher prices and taxes to make sure they have them. People in rural areas across the country seem to manage just fine without the government telling them what they are allowed to buy. Pa should be one of thoese places too.

  6. Use the session to make Pennsylvania a ‘right to work state’.
    Remove mandatory union membership from state employees and teachers. Stop forced union member contributions to political candidates or political parties.

    -Stop universities that are state affiliated or receive state funding from enrolling illegal immigrants.

  7. Republicans in rural Pennsylvania are concerned that the Democrats would take their guns. You might think that is why rural PA went for Tom Corbett.

    Well, we still have our guns. However, we are about to lose 12 of our 14 Medicaid coverage plans, thanks to outgoing Corbett’s “Healthy PA”. What is important is that we still have our guns.

    The real reason rural PA went for Republicans is that there was largely no one else to vote for. 117 seats were unchallenged. Where Pennsylvanians had a choice – on the state-wide ballot for Governor – we picked Tom Wolf, by a resounding margin.

    Mr. Wolf ran on a platform that advocated a 5% gas severance tax. We have already lost $2.045 billion since 2009. By 2015, that 5% tax will amount to a billion a year and growing. Republicans oppose this severance tax, yet all 35 other gas-producing states assess it.

    We are not overly worried about the deficit in pension funding. We got into the mess because Republicans stopped the state matching contributions in 2000. Act 120, passed in 2010, mandating that state contributions resume and continue. Mr. Wolf ran on a platform that allowed for the legislation to work.

    We did not care about privatizing the PLCB. Rural PA has clean, safe, regulated and well-stocked wine & spirit stores that the private sector will not replace. No money in rural PA. Our liquor stores are out this way because of the cash flow in Pittsburgh & Philly. Mr. Wolf ran on a platform strongly opposed to privatization. With 30 years of real-world business experience, he wants to grow the $700+ million/year that the PLCB returns to the General Fund and the local economy in sales tax, operating profits, rent and licensing fees.

    Nobody gave much thought to the so-called “paycheck protection”. The administrative cost to the tax payer is less than $100/year. The real bane to the Republicans is that automatic deduction of union dues helps state unions stay in business. If unions falter, there will be no champion of middle class jobs. Mr. Wolf is a job creator and staunch protector of worker’s compensation and rights. Mr. Wolf ran on a platform strongly opposed to paycheck protection.

    Now the word out of Harrisburg is that the Republicans are planning a lame-duck session from 6 January to 20 January – before the new Governor is inaugurated. It is a last-ditch effort to ram through highly controversial legislation on pension reform, paycheck protection and closing the tax-payer owned liquor stores.

    The Corbett Administration dropped PA from 7th to 50th in job creation, and left us with a real $2.6 billion dollar deficit, largely because of poor revenue collection in a stagnant economy. And the first move by Republicans after the election is to cripple unions, discourage recruitment of future state workers, and kill more jobs. All of which Governor Wolf was elected to oppose.

    This is bad government, a violation of the trust of the Commonwealth. We elected the new General Assembly to work with the new Governor.

  8. Jay Costa-

    Pennsylvanians also don’t want State Senators who sell out to the drillers and vote to end stream buffer zones.

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