Nutter noncommittal on Senate's pension legislation

Mayor Nutter refused to offer an opinion this morning on sweeping pension reform provisions that, for now at least, are part and parcel of Philadelphia's yet-to-be-passed budget relief legislation.

Nutter said he had not had a chance to thoroughly review the 50-pages worth of pension-related amendments, which were attached to the bill last night. Nutter said also that the bill could be changed again in the next few days.

If the bill as drafted becomes law, it would provide Philadelphia the penny-per-dollar sales tax hike and pension payment restructuring Nutter has said the city desperately needs to avoid crippling service cuts. Nutter, of course, very much wants that, and as quickly as possible.

But the bill now also includes language that is incredibly tough on city unions, mandating lower retirement benefits for all future city workers and forbidding the city from increasing benefits for current workers. Though the legislation would do little to solve Philadelphia's short-term pension funding problem, it would help prevent the city from sinking deeper into a pension funding hole in years to come.

Nutter has asked city unions to make many of the concessions that the amended bill would mandate, so it is possible that he would find elements of the amended legislation helpful. But the amendments - whose fate in the House is unclear - are likely to delay final passage of the bill, which the city would like to avoid.

At the press conference, though, Nutter ducked repeated invitations to weigh in on the pension provisions.

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