Finance

No Pension Reform? No Signature from Pennsylvania Governor

July 1, 2014

Gov. Corbett refused late Monday to sign a $29.1 billion budget that the Republican-controlled legislature scrambled to deliver to him just 90 minutes before the midnight deadline.

The legislature approved a plan that includes some increased money for schools, and would not raise any taxes or impose new ones.

But Corbett, a Republican facing a tough reelection battle in the fall, signaled disappointment that the legislature was unable to deliver on one of his priorities: a measure that would change pension benefits for new employees.

"The budget I received tonight makes significant investments in our common priorities of education, jobs, and human services," the governor said in a statement shortly before 11 p.m. "It does not address all the difficult choices that still need to be made. It leaves pensions, one of the largest expenses to the commonwealth and our school districts, on the table."

He added: "I will continue to work with the legislature toward meaningful pension reform. I am withholding signing the budget passed by the General Assembly while I deliberate its impact on the people of Pennsylvania."

It was unclear how long Corbett, who has often boasted of his record of delivering on-time budgets, would hold out. A protracted stalemate could affect the state's ability to pay bills or workers.

The plan passed both chambers largely along partisan lines, with the House giving its stamp of approval shortly before 10:30. In doing so, the GOP-controlled legislature sent Corbett a spending blueprint that includes some increases for public schools and social safety-net programs, while filling an estimated $1.5 billion budget gap largely with onetime fund transfers and delayed payments.

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