THE BEST OF
Baer Growls Corbett Collects
Former Gov. Tom Corbett, who tried but failed to trim public pensions for state workers and school employees, is pulling down a pretty good pension himself.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Corbett took a lump-sum payment of $118,378 after leaving office in January and is getting an annual payment of $38,765.
The amount is based on Corbett's 11.3 years of state service: four as governor, six as attorney general and a year-plus as acting attorney general, appointed by Gov. Tom Ridge after Attorney General Ernie Preate went to prison.
Corbett's pension is based in part on his final salary of $186,204 - the highest salary for any governor in America - even though he never collected that amount while in office. He declined annual cost-of-living raises while governor, citing the state's sour economy. He kept his salary at what it was when he was elected, $174,914.
Gov. Wolf does not take a salary but likely would be eligible for a pension for his time as governor and, formerly, as state revenue secretary.
Pension payments are based on actual salary set by statute rather than what an individual accepts as salary.
Pennsylvania, like many states, faces a growing unfunded liability problem with public pensions. It's estimated taxpayers will spend $1 billion in pension costs next year. The liability number is put at $50 billion-plus.
The issue is seen as critical to the state budget. A new budget is due July 1. Wolf, who seeks new taxes to fund education and cut property taxes, is proposing a combination of borrowing money and reducing fees to Wall Street fund managers to attack the pension problem. Republicans controlling the Legislature say there will be no discussion of new taxes without changes to pension payments to new and possibly current employees.
The Tribune-Review also reports former Gov. Ed Rendell gets $22,358 annually after eight years of state service. He took a lump sum payment of $96,420. Former Gov. Ridge gets $11,961 after a lump-sum withdrawal of $45,023. He served eight years as governor. He no doubt also draws a federal pension for 10 years in Congress and three-plus years as head of homeland security.
- John Baer