PA Gov. Corbett would kill pension watchdog

As Pennsylvania prepares another $55 million fix-up of its ridiculously ornate state capitol complex, Gov. Corbett hopes to save $690,000 a year by killing the seven-person Public Employess' Retirement Commission, which under James McAneny has been one of the few independent bodies able and willing to challenge Pennsylvania state and local governments' relentless subprime addiction to of awarding legislators and other public workers pensions that they are unwilling to adequately finance, PA Independent reports here.

Corbett would transfer PERC's powers - which, because of General Assembly inaction, have been sadly limited to describing the disaster of pension under-funding, instead of effectively doing anything about it - to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which Mark Schwartz, former state bond lawyer turned municipal finance critic, has called a "rubber stamp" for approving stupid political spending project using borrowed money taxpayers repay for decades after the politicians and contractors responsible have comfortably retired. 

The result has been an explosion in taxpayer liability to pay public pensions, as SERS' and PSERS' annual trip this week to the Capitol to simultaneously defend their expensive, underperforming investment programs and warn that they need a lot more money have made clear, again.

Blame Gov. Ridge for simultaneously jacking up pensions and cutting state subsidies way back in 2001, and Govs. Rendell and Corbett and especially the General Assembly for refusing to do anything effective about it.

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