HEADLINES : Pennsylvania
Pa. state pension cost spike key in next budget
HARRISBURG -- When Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed his inaugural budget into law in June 2011, the response from the state's largest teachers union was swift and severe.
Viewing public education as the main victim in last year's leaner $27.14 billion state spending plan, the Pennsylvania State Education Association proclaimed that the deep cuts would jeopardize student progress.
Fast-forward to this year's final budget, and the mostly similar education-funding figures garnered a "thank you" to lawmakers for the limited public-school funds they did restore over Mr. Corbett's February proposal.
Pennsylvania's annual pension payments on benefits for public schoolteachers and state employees grew by more than $500 million this year. They're scheduled to increase by another $700 million next year, which will easily eclipse the $300 million projected surplus.
If the state does nothing to adjust the cost of its $30 billion-and-growing unfunded liability on that benefits system, the annual price tag will be more than 10 percent of the state's budget as Mr. Corbett potentially seeks re-election in 2014.