Pension reform looks to be on top of Corbett’s list

Gov. Corbett hasn’t let up on his top priority for this year. He repeated his mantra last week when he told a group of editors and reporters from Digital First media that pension reform must be achieved before it consumes the state budget.

A $41 billion liability can have that sort of impact on a conscientious governor.

The sad lesson in this situation is that the pension shortfall should have been addressed by the previous governor and that Legislature. Now, because of that kick-the-can-down-the-road mentality, the necessary changes will be deeper and hurt more.

We see a future public employee pension system modeled more closely after the 401K-style accounts prevalent in the private sector.

We see larger contributions necessary from employees, at rates more closely mirroring the private sector.

We see these changes being applied to all new state employees.

What we don’t want to see are changes to the pension system or benefits taken away from state public workers who are in the final years of their employment.

These people worked decades with one understanding of what their retirement plan would look like.

That can’t be changed at the last minute.

We hope the administration and Legislature will embark on a plan of real reform for new state employees, some changes in the plan for employees who may be in their first 10 years of employment and a hands-off approach on longtime employees.

That may be enough to get the state some wiggle room to begin gradually reducing a $41 billion shortfall before it gobbles up the rest of the state budget, necessary services and all.

– Williamsport Sun-Gazette