The committee’s Republicans and Democrats voted unanimously in support of several amendments at the beginning of the meeting. When the committee last met to discuss pension reform, Democratic members staged a walkout in protest of GOP changes, Chris Comisac of Capitolwire reports.
Though every one of the 27 members agreed to change the language of the bill sent over by the State Senate last week, all 11 Democrats voted against reporting the bill out of the committee.
The bill will now go to the House floor, with the GOP’s majority on the committee more than enough.
Committee Minority Chairman Mark Cohen was critical of the vote to move the bill, though Cohen said his Democratic colleagues “greatly appreciate” the effort made by GOP committee members.
“Addressing the unfunded liability is a difficult thing, but the plan offers no dedicated revenue stream to cover pension costs in the future. It does not produce obvious savings for taxpayers,” Cohen said, while questioning the constitutionality of the bill. “Some of our people have strong analyses that it is unconstitutional. This gives many people what would be the third-worst pension system, in terms of the benefits they would receive, in the country.”
The House State Government Committee will be busy over the next week as it works to move bills passed by the Senate to the floor of the House. Lawmakers in the capital are working to end the six-month nightmare that is the 2015-16 budget by the end of the year.
School districts and service providers across the state have had to scale back or shutter operations, as critical state funding has been on hold while Harrisburg works out a budget.
On Tuesday, Philadelphia schools Superintendent William Hite wrote to staff to tell them the 130,000-student district will run out of money by Jan. 29 if there is still no budget.
“After that date, our ability to keep schools open, issue paychecks and pay bills is uncertain,” Hite wrote. “The prospect of running out of operating funds is dire.”