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Pa. Union Condemns ‘Fatally Flawed’ Republican Budget

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A prominent Pennsylvania union condemned state Republican lawmakers Tuesday for proposing a short-term spending budget after their pension reform plan failed.

The SEIU Pennsylvania State Council has several issues with the House Republican budget. The union says it doesn’t increase funding for schools and does nothing to fix structural deficit. Worse, however, is that the union is accusing Republicans of using the budget in retaliation for failed pension reform. The conflict is the latest in a six month stalemate which has put the brakes on the passage of a final budget.

“Gutting retirement security should never have been a prerequisite to passing a responsible budget,” the union noted on its website. “The failure of an expensive pension gutting bill is not a reason for the House to not fulfill the responsibility to pass a complete, fiscally sound budget.”

The main issue critics have with the Republican budget is that it provides only short term funding. Also known as a stopgap budget, the proposal would mean lawmakers would have to readdress it sooner than if they passed a long-term framework budget. Republicans have a majority in both the House and Senate.

“The state has suffered enough during this nearly six-month impasse,” the union continued. “Schools may close their doors in the New Year, and non-profits are cutting staff and turning away those in need.”

Pennsylvania is among the many states currently in a pension crisis. A proposal to reform the pension system proposed Dec. 7 failed to pass the state House. State union leaders led much of the push to oppose the reform. The SEIU claims the failed reforms would not actually address pension debt in the state, but would actually increase costs upwards of $2 billion.

The Democrat minority in the House, though, has also proposed their own framework budget, according to Penn Live. With support of an additional 24 Republicans as well as every Democrat, the alternative has already passed the Senate, according to the York Daily Record. If its approved by the House, it could go to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk as early as Wednesday.

The Commonwealth Foundation found the state has $50 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. The  failed pension reform proposal was not designed to impact current contracts, but to prolong pension payments for future retirees. Nevertheless, critics argued it will result in unlawful pension cuts. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has also rejected the proposal as dangerous.

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