Crunch Time for Corbett's Agenda, and State Budget
The state budget deadline is days away, but the spending plan is practically an afterthought to lawmakers as Gov. Tom Corbett's other priorities remain unresolved.
A scaled-back pension overhaul proposal is advancing in the Senate and still needs House approval. But it's not the subject of intense disagreement between the chambers, as Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson notes is true of other items on the governor's to-do list, like transportation funding and liquor privatization.
"We're still focusing on trying to get all three done, but I certainly understand the logic of people who think that pension reform seems the likeliest," Arneson said.
The pension proposal would affect only future state and school employees, and it does nothing to address the state's existing pension debt.
A $2.5 billion plan to fix roads and bridges has passed the Senate and is being taken up by the House, where Republicans plan to delete some proposed fines and lessen tax increases to bring the total expense down.
A proposal to privatize liquor system has passed the House. But neither Senate Republicans nor Democrats want to pass something that looks remotely similar to what the governor wants: a definitive end to the state stores and the commonwealth's wholesale operation for wine and liquor.
"There is a school of thought that, as things stand at this moment, that the pension reforms are the likeliest of the governor's big three — pension reforms, transportation, liquor reform — to get done," Arneson said.