Pension Reform Stalls in House

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

An opportunity for a substantive pension reform measure to reach Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk puttered out last Wednesday night, as House legislative leaders determined that there were not enough votes in that chamber to pass legislation that had earlier been reported from a conference committee. Prior to the House’s announcement that the pension reform bill had stalled, the legislation was approved by a conference committee made up of House appointees Reps. Mike Tobash, Warren Kampf and Dan Frankel; and Sens. Jake Corman, Joe Scarnati and John Blake.

The report, which cleared the committee by a 4-2 vote, would have instituted the option of new hybrid defined benefit, defined contribution plans, or a straight defined contribution plan, for new state and public school employees. After it became clear that the measure would not be taken up by the House for a final vote, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, admitted that the chamber was three votes shy of getting the 102 votes needed to approve it, with no support from any Democrats. And while Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan told reporters that the governor “remains committed” to achieving pension reform, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, seemed hard-pressed to believe it. “”This governor provided zero [Democratic votes] – to me that’s unprecedented, if he truly wanted it,” Corman said.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, the House referred the conference report on S.B. 1071 back to the conference committee, setting up a potential scenario in which the legislation could again be considered during the few post-election session days that are scheduled in November.