Smith Suggests Pension Reform May Have to Wait

Sam Smith
House Speaker Sam Smith

As the deadline looms in Harrisburg, it appears one of Governor Tom Corbett’s three main goals will be sacrificed. Reform of the state’s public employee pension plans is on the back burner, at least temporarily, in order to improve the odds of the others.

As Republicans confront the end of the current legislative session on Sunday, the state budget as well as Corbett’s triad of reform efforts (liquor, transportation, pension) remain undone. Thursday, in an unscheduled news briefing, House Speaker Sam Smith, said “given the complexity of that issue, I think it’s going to be tough” for lawmakers to achieve pension reform.

Lt. Governor Jim Cawley tried to make the case that all GOP goals could still be passed in time yet also seemed to suggest otherwise.

“I feel very optimistic, but I also know that at this time of year there’s always the potential for something unforeseen to happen,” Cawley said.

Governor Corbett originally proposed a broad plan to cut future benefits from current employees. He has now settled on a plan to replace the current pension system with a 401(k)-style plan that would apply to state workers and school employees starting in 2015.

Pension reform appeared stalled after cost analysis from the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) seemed inconclusive.

In describing the uncertainty, Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) a leader on pension issues and a member of the PERC probably put it best. “Different actuaries have different determinations … this is one matter on which there are many different opinions.”

Speaker Smith sought to downplay the delay of legislation, stating that they could take it up again after the recess.

“If it doesn’t get resolved in the next four days, it’s not like it’s dead. It’s something that we could work further through in the fall,” he said.

Democrats and labor unions have been uniform in their distaste for the GOP pension proposals.

5 Responses

  1. The Smith family has always done what is best for the SMITH FAMILY in the 66th. It is indeed time to retire the SMITH DYNASTY after 40 plus years of lousy representation in Jefferson County.

  2. Confirmed by another member of the leadership that “reform” will have to wait. “Inconclusive?” Hardly – $33 Billion is pretty damn conclusive. Corbett got paid off by Big Gas to not have a severance tax like all other gas states. Now, he is being paid off by Wall Street to tunr workers’ retirement over to the gamblers. He’ll end up in jail, sooner or later – he has too many enemies on the inside who can’t wait to drop the dime. He’ll be joining Mellow, DeWees, Orie, Fumo, Perzel, et al. at the Graybar Hotel.

  3. Two of the three actuarial reports state that this so-called reform will cost over $30 billion. How on earth is that a viable option? What ties does Corbett have to Milliman? He is wasting close to $4 million chasing lottery privatization despite record-breaking sales and now this. There is some type of benefit to Corbett personally in this. Dig deeper. Conservatives used to conserve money but not modern Republicans.

  4. Sam Smith’s leadership vote in 2001 put us on the path to this fiscal iceberg and now the does nothing to change course.

    Sam Smith is financed by Unions and he advances their big spending policies at the expense of The Productive Forgotten Taxpayer who works, saves and invests to pay for union and government pensions, including Sam Smith’s generous pension AND lifetime health care.

    Sam Smith voted for every one of Ed Rendell’s bankrupting budgets. No other Republican can match that record. Sam Smith voted for higher pensions, for the pay jacking AND for BBillions in new debt.

    It is time to end the One Man Rule of House District 66 and to retire the Smith Dynasty.

  5. The numbers…..The debt liability was determined to be @13k per household. The average pension is @25k. 50% of all Pa. households contain a State or School Employee? If the money is supposed to go into the pension plan, why are they trying to keep it in the State budget instead? Making things worse while carrying the banner of improvement.

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