Republicans’ sprawling, fast-track pension legislation made it through the Senate on Wednesday, but Democrats attacked its central money-saving strategy as unconstitutional and said it would leave pensioners in poverty and do little to immediately relieve the pain of a $53 billion pension debt.
The 28-19 vote was along party lines, with every Democrat and one Republican against it.
Republicans, who cast the massive pension debt as the state’s greatest financial challenge, made no effort to bargain with Democrats in the Senate minority and instead suggested that the only Democrat with whom they are interested in bargaining is Gov. Tom Wolf. They hailed the bill’s passage as a historic effort to save the pension system from an outdated benefit plan that has been rendered unaffordable by longer living retirees.
“I think it’s a huge day, (when) a bill of this magnitude, this type of reform gets passed in any body,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre. “We’ve been struggling for this for years. To get this accomplished today is historic.”
He called the bill the most comprehensive and important pension reform measure to date.