Pa. Pension Debate Heats Up at Hearing

Pennsylvania Council president fines council member.
Pennsylvania Council president fines council member.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Tempers flared at a Senate hearing on Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s bill to overhaul Pennsylvania’s public pension plans.

Wednesday’s Finance Committee hearing was the first held since the bill was introduced earlier this month.

State budget chief Charles Zogby told the panel that radical action, including a reduction in future benefits for hundreds of thousands of state and school employees, is needed to check the fast-growing taxpayers’ share of the two major pensions systems.

Zogby also rebutted arguments that the benefit cuts are unconstitutional.

But Democratic Sen. Rob Teplitz said the pension crisis largely resulted from benefit increases and inadequate taxpayer contributions to the pension funds by past governors and legislatures. The Dauphin County lawmaker said the administration is trying to “demonize” public employees and that drastic action is unnecessary.

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