Corbett line-item vetoes funding for legislature over lack of pension reform

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the state's budget but line-item vetoed funding for the state legislature, criticizing lawmakers for leaving the capitol without addressing the public pension problem.

Of the $72 million trimmed from the approved budget, $65 million is funding appropriated by the legislature for its own operating expenses, CBS Philly reports.

Currently, the state has $50 billion in unfunded pension debt, which has led Corbett to push lawmakers to address the problem, going so far as to threaten to hold school funding in Philadelphia, according to The Mercury.

Corbett defended his decision to trim the budget, saying lawmakers have approximately $150 million sitting in reserve and that while the state does not have a reserve to address the state's budget woes, the legislature does, CBS Philly reports.

"They filled the budget with discretionary spending and then refused to deal with the biggest fiscal challenge facing Pennsylvania: our unsustainable public pension system," Corbett said, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. "For these reasons, I am forcing mutual sacrifice with the General Assembly through the governor's ability to line-item veto and hold spending in budgetary reserve."

The Commonwealth Foundation said the veto highlights efforts by special interests to derail pension reform in the state.

"Today, the governor identified the special interests that oppose any kind of fiscally responsible pension reform: government union leaders," Nathan Benefield, the vice president of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation, said. "That Governor Corbett feels a line-item veto is needed to force action on this issue illustrates the immense power these government union executives wield in Harrisburg."

Benefield said that, without pension reform, taxpayers could see tax increases of approximately $1,000 per household and school teachers may find themselves unemployed.

"The governor has made it clear that pension reform must be a priority and those standing in the way will no longer be able to hide in the shadows," Benefield said.