The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

November 29, 2012

Corbett: Pension cuts would affect all state employees

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett acknowledged Thursday that his administration is considering reducing future pension benefits for current Pennsylvania state employees and teachers, and said any such cuts should be distributed evenly to include lawmakers and judges.

“When you don’t have the money, you can’t have the pension plans continue to take so much out of the taxpayers’ pocket,” he told reporters, comparing the state’s situation to pension trends in the private sector.

Corbett conceded that the state constitution may shield judges from any reduction in pension benefits and said any major reduction in public pension benefits passed by the Legislature would likely end up being decided in a lengthy court battle.

An administration report released Monday warned that the growing financial obligations of the state’s two major public-sector pension funds threaten to drive taxes up, drain funding for other state programs and hurt business growth. The report ruled out higher taxes but said prospective cuts for current employees should be considered.

The State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System already face an unfunded liability of $41 billion.

Last year, state government paid about $1.1 billion into the funds.

The amount of taxpayer money going into the funds is expected to double to $2.2 billion in the year that starts July 1 and to exceed $5 billion by 2019.

Despite case law interpreting the state constitution that bars reductions in benefits for tens of thousands of current employees, Corbett said he believes it is legally possible to do just that by limiting the reduction to future benefits employees have yet to accrue.

For example, he said the “multiplier” – a percentage applied to an employee’s years of service and final average salary to produce his or her retirement benefit – could be reset at a lower rate for the latter part of the employee’s career.

“You can cut the multiplier for folks going forward even if they (are) vested ... because they still have the benefit of that period that they had the multiplier,” Corbett said. “Legally, can you do that? I believe you can.”

David Fillman, head of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents 45,000 state employees, said any attempt to reduce employees’ right to earn future pension credit would violate the constitution.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State News
  • PennDOT pushes ‘Yellow Dot’ vehicle stickers

    It’s the car sticker that could save your life.
    PennDOT’s “Yellow Dot” program has been around for several years, said Daniel Zakraysek, coordinator of the Cambria Allegheny Regional Highway Safety Network.

    July 28, 2014

  • Remembering elephant’s rampage

    The circus elephant paced the landing outside the Jaffa Mosque in Altoona.
    Police formed an uneasy line around the perimeter of the venue’s lawn, rifles at the ready.
    It was a cloudy, cold day in April 1993, and Tyke the elephant had just run around the circus ring, slapped a baboon and burst through a building’s front door, tearing off part of the wall above the door.

    July 28, 2014

  • State briefs 7/29/2014

    July 28, 2014

  • TSA finds gun, ammo in Pittsburgh airport carry-on

    The Transportation Security Administration says it found a pistol and ammunition in man’s carry-on bag as he passed through security at Pittsburgh International Airport.

    July 28, 2014

  • Youth pastor fired, jailed after teen-sex charges

    A youth pastor has been fired by a western Pennsylvania church and jailed on charges he performed sex acts with a 15-year-old girl in their church building.

    July 28, 2014

  • Luksik, Peg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray. Johnstown resident Peg Luksik, who twice ran for governor as the Constitutional Party nominee, knows what it's like.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scaife remembered for strong convictions

    At a weekend memorial service, publisher Richard Mellon Scaife was remembered by the archbishop of Washington as someone who had the courage to stand “for things that mattered.”

    July 27, 2014

  • DePasquale Auditor: More Marcellus Shale well inspectors needed

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the past century.
    But boom times in the Marcellus Shale are bringing online thousands more wells that use a complicated process requiring more careful oversight.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Strained relationship between Corbett, Legislature not new

    Poking and prodding the Legislature to act on pension reform, Gov. Tom Corbett urged lawmakers to shorten their summer break and come back to the Capitol early.
    It’s a modest victory. The House will return to session Aug. 4, instead of the middle of September. And there’s little hint that lawmakers intend to knock themselves out trying to satisfy the governor.

    July 26, 2014

  • Wolf: Wealthy should pay more to cut school taxes

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf would make a centerpiece of his first budget proposal an increase in income taxes on Pennsylvania’s higher-earners to help expand the state’s share of public education funding in exchange for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in local property taxes levied by school boards.

    July 26, 2014


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads