The state Senate president pro tem is beginning his eighth year with a call to action for some kind of public pension system overhaul.
Sen. Joe Scarnati, a Republican of Jefferson County, has been re-elected unanimously to his position.
In his first address to the Senate this year, he said the budget outlook demands lawmakers grapple with rising public pension costs.
"The choices we need to make will be many but the largest cost and growth in next year’s budget will be pension cost and we need to make choices," Scarnati said.
Scarnati framed the issue as similar to transportation funding, which he also highlighted as the top priority before the legislature around this time a year ago.
He said he supports changing benefits for future employees.
It’s just one piece of a plan proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett, who also wants to reduce looming scheduled payments into the pension fund and change the benefits of current workers.
Labor unions say changing current workers’ pension plans won’t survive a legal challenge, and Scarnati echoed that concern.