The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 11, 2014

Corbett still pressing for pension reform

PITTSBURGH — Gov. Tom Corbett said Friday that he’s still hopeful the Pennsylvania Legislature will take up pension reform, but won’t say if he plans to call a special session on the issue.

Speaking at a press conference in Pittsburgh, Corbett said he thinks his fellow Republicans in the Legislature are close to reaching an agreement on changes to the pension system and on liquor privatization.

Earlier in the day, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, said Corbett needs to take the lead on crafting a pension agreement.

Corbett signed the state budget 10 days late, on Thursday, and used his line-item veto power to spotlight what he called the Legislature’s failure to make sacrifices with the rest of those in government or to curb rising public-sector pension costs.

Turzai said during a press conference that the leading pension bill was hatched by House Republicans, not Corbett. The Senate’s four top Republicans also have criticized Corbett.

Turzai called on the governor to use “capital and the bully pulpit” to get initiatives already approved by the House through the Senate.

Corbett rejected the criticism, saying the only thing he’s refused to do is woo legislators by promising special projects for their districts.

“Am I encouraging the membership to come back and get pensions done? Yes,” Corbett said, but added that he hasn’t spoken directly to legislative leaders since his budget decision.

Corbett said some Republicans are being influenced by public sector unions, and now he’s taking his cause to the public. He said his administration also is working behind the scenes with Senate leaders on privatization of state-run liquor stores.

The governor said he sent a message by cutting $65 million from the Legislature’s own appropriations and another $7.2 million in earmarks and other spending items picked by lawmakers.

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