PA-Gov Round-Up: Pension and Education Crises

PA-Governor-Mansion2Last week was about personalities but this week we returned to the issues.

Specifically the issues of education, which polls show voters are most concerned about, and pensions, which the Governor is most worried about and feels is related to the problem of funding schools.

Given the last few weeks, it is not an absurd assumption to guess that education will be the issue most mentioned by Wolf this year while pensions will be brought up as much if not more by the Governor.

Corbett

The Corbett-Cawley campaign has been intensely focused since the budget season on attacking Wolf for not recognizing the pension crisis that the Governor believes is at the heart of the commonwealth’s fiscal problems.

They pointed out that State Rep. Mike Sturla, the Democratic caucus policy chairman, acknowledged that the pension issue needs to be addressed.

“Even as millionaire Secretary Tom Wolf’s surrogates acknowledge Pennsylvania has a pension crisis, Wolf continues turn a blind eye and appease the interests of the public sector unions who have given him $1.13 million since he purchased the Democratic nomination in May,” said Corbett-Cawley Communications Director Chris Pack.  “Governor Corbett is the only one willing to stand up to the public sector unions and get pension reform done and costs under control for future generations.”

The cries from the Governor’s campaign became even louder after Moody’s downgraded the state’s credit rating and cited pensions as one of the contributing factors.

“Moody’s has cited the Commonwealth’s growing pension liabilities as a primary reason for downgrading Pennsylvania’s credit rating despite millionaire Secretary Tom Wolf’s repeated denial of a pension crisis,” Pack stated. “It is a true shame that despite all of the evidence of our state’s pension crisis that Secretary Tom Wolf continues to deny there is a problem at all.  It is time for Secretary Tom Wolf to stop denying our state’s pension crisis for his selfish political reasons and instead encourage his Democratic cohorts to do what is right for the 12.7 million residents of Pennsylvania and not just what is best for the Harrisburg special interests.”

It’s clear the Corbett campaign feels pensions are their strongest issue but it remains to be seen whether they can successfully connect that issue to the one voters (and Wolf) are focusing on, education.

Wolf

After the Corbett campaign took aim at Wolf in a new television ad, the Democratic nominee attacked the Governor for what he identified as a billion dollar cut in education funding.

“Tom Corbett cut $1 billion from education, leading to teacher layoffs and property tax increases, while refusing to make oil and gas companies pay their fair share,” said Beth Melena, the campaign’s spokeswoman. “Tom Corbett sunk Pennsylvania to 49th in the nation in job growth. Now he is spending millions in attacks that have already been called false and ridiculously misleading. After more than three years of failed policies and no leadership, Pennsylvanians are ready for a fresh start.”

Meanwhile, Mike Mikus of FreshStartPA went after Gov. Corbett for speaking in front of an apparently preselected group of Bucks County seniors. He also made clear that the pension and education crises are the fault of the incumbent.

“Tom Corbett is trying to hide from the fact that his $1 billion dollar cut to education is what has driven up property taxes in Pennsylvania and that his pension plan will offer no immediate savings,” Mikus wrote.

“Not only would Tom Corbett’s pension plan do nothing to create short-term savings, it also would do nothing to reduce the unfunded liability. This means that Corbett’s pension plan would not help to upgrade Pennsylvania’s $11.1 billion general obligation bonds to our previous rating of Aa2.”

Expect to hear much more about pensions and education in the weeks and months ahead.

6 Responses

  1. REALLY ? , you give 5 mil , to an art museum , but the township and borough roads in York co. Particularry Windsor , are deplorable . K, bring on. Someone who may just care ,

  2. Actually it was former governor Tom Ridge who screwed up the pension. He cut all state and school district contributions to it while the teachers kept their part of the bargain by paying into it fully for ten years. Now of course it is in trouble and it was the state that cheated and now the governor wants to screw the teachers. IS THAT FAIR?

  3. tom potz and julee a, the guneonor corbitt is only doing what hee needs to do to get penna back on good finanshil grounds

  4. Chris, Cut out the act! We know you’re not that stupid and illiterate.

    The PSEA and Wolf are deceitful about any cuts to education. The federal STIMULUS MONEY went away! That is not a cut in state funding. If anybody cut state funding it was Uncle Eddie Rendell. He cut the $$$ the state put into education when he got the STIMULUS MONEY!!!

  5. Corbett is right. Property tax increases are the direct result of the pension debt. Wolf ignores this at his peril. It plays into the Corbett narrative that Wolf is out of touch with ordinary people.

    Chris — the workers, both union and non-union, have been paying their full share into the retirement systems all along. None of this is their fault. Corbett is wrong.

  6. guvenor corbitt is write. we has to do somethim about the hi cost of pension. state workrs got to pay more money in to there own pensioms,

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