Looking for a bigger and brighter future for education in the state of Pennsylvania?
Governor Tom Corbett says the solution is going to require massive cuts to the state's pension plan. As a result, neither educators nor retirees in the state are happy with the rhetoric.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Corbett said Wednesday that he has promised not to adjust the budgets for the state's four public universities or for the statewide school-level education system - provided he gets his way in drastically reducing public employee pension costs.
Corbett has even gone so far as to dub the state's ever-escalating public pension costs "The Tapeworm," saying that the issue presents the biggest threat to Pennsylvania's long-term economic outlook.
Pennsylvania's system, underfunded to the tune of $41 billion, has reached near crisis point, the governor says, because of continued enhancement to retirement benefits, systemic underfunding by local school districts and the state itself, as well as a recent track history of low returns on investments.
Pension costs will continue to escalate in the years to come, threatening other state programs, and Corbett says he's had enough and plans to take serious action in his coming budget, though he offered few details to the newspaper on what those steps might include.
The governor did say he and his budget secretary are looking at changing the formula for basic public employee pension benefits, an issue which is expected to receive major push-back from the state's unions.
Corbett says he's also adamant that he will not raise taxes to help offset the costs.