Radio PA Roundtable – July 5, 2013

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, all the ramifications from last weekend’s legislative activity on the state budget and the other major issues Governor Tom Corbett put on lawmakers’ plates this year (HINT: they didn’t eat their vegetables). Also, the governor and the head of a major union are pointing fingers at each other. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting, commentary and analysis on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

Ask the Governor – July 3, 2013 (entire one-hour program)

We now offer the ENTIRE one-hour Ask the Governor audio program right here on Now, you can listen to the entire program and/or watch video clips of specific topics. Click the play button to get started…


This program was recorded Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 and includes discussions on the following topics and more: The state budget and the failure of the legislature to pass transportation funding, alcohol privatization or pension reform; Medicaid expansion; flooding in Clearfield County; Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary recognition; listener emails and much more!

Pension Reform Bills Pass House Committee

Two bills that would drastically change the public pension system in Pennsylvania have cleared the committee hurdle in the state House of Representatives.

The legislation passed the House State Government Committee Tuesday after a lengthy partisan debate over motives, effectiveness and even the timing of the committee meeting, which began at an earlier-than-usual 8:00am. Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe shot down Democrat attempts to table the bills, which now go to the full House.

During the debate, Metcalfe said that curtailing the retirement benefits of public sector employees might reduce their desire to be long-term public servants, suggesting that short-term tenures would be better for the state.

Metcalfe is an 8-term Republican member of the state House (16 years), with no indications he is opposed to running for a 9th term.

The legislation would make the shift to a 401k-style defined contributions retirement plan for all new state employees starting in 2015. Metcalfe says the bills also limit so-called “spiking,” whereby a state employee can work overtime or take a short-term promotion at the end of their career in order to raise their salary and thereby collect higher benefits in retirement.

Democrats suggested during the committee debate that the focus of the discussion had shifted to an outright contempt of public employees.

The Senate is also working on pension reform legislation and the issue is one of Governor Tom Corbett’s top priorities this legislative session.


Christman Blog: What’s Your Work Philosophy?

It’s January and you return to your very well-paid job from a nice holiday break – a month and a half holiday break. Certainly everyone can relate to that.

Your boss welcomes you back and then informs you that he has several big and important projects for you to complete by mid-year. In fact, some of them are so important that the very financial future of the company is at stake. The good news, though, is that you have 6 whole months to make it happen.

What is your approach?

Do you jump into action, prioritizing and tackling each project independently and thoughtfully, spreading the work out so that you have adequate time to devote to each initiative? After all, this is very important. Remember…the entire company is trusting and counting on YOU.

Oh, did I mention that you can’t get fired for another year and a half? Yes, no matter how badly you bungle things, short of breaking the law, you’re guaranteed to be employed through December of 2014.

So, maybe you take a different approach to your assignments this year. Perhaps you spend 5 months and 23 days arguing with co-workers, demanding you get your way on everything and enlisting outside special interests to come in and bad-mouth anyone else’s ideas. Then, 6 days before your boss’s deadline, and with none of your work actually done, you can try to squeeze everything into one week before heading out the door bragging about how well-deserved your three month summer vacation is, regardless of how many of your projects are left unfinished. Why, you might even issue a press release boasting of your accomplishments.

Those are two possibilities for your approach to this important work assignment. Guess which one your state lawmakers took on the major issues of transportation funding, pension reform, alcohol privatization and the state budget in 2013.

Oh, sure, there was lots of talking, followed by more talking and then concluding with…talking, but here we are – 6 days before the expected end of the fiscal year – and not a single major initiative is finished in Harrisburg. Not one. In fact, a birdie is whispering in my ear that it’s quite possible this final week of the fiscal year is about to get off to an even rockier start than expected.

The games people play…with your company. With your money…

There is a silver lining to all this. Remember that boss I mentioned? Well, that boss is you. Remember that when you watch your employees’ performance in Harrisburg this week. Remember it when you’re looking at the condition of your company, also known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Most of all, remember it when you pull the curtain in November of 2014 and issue your worker evaluations, and don’t be fooled by those clever employees, who know about the power you hold in 2014 and will certainly try to convince you, maybe even bribe you, into believing that they are valuable members of the team and deserve to be retained for another 2-to-6 year contract. They’ll fill your inbox with full-color memos (produced on the company printer you paid for, by the way) detailing what they think, which usually fills up more space than would detailing what they accomplish. They’ll smile in your presence and tell you everything is just fine and dandy with your company.

But you’ll know better because you’ll remember everything you’ve seen this year…


(Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania and a veteran of 19 state budget seasons in Harrisburg)


Radio PA Roundtable – June 21, 2013

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, state budget talks continue and lawmakers are still dealing with the big issues of liquor privatization, transportation funding and pension reform. Updates all around from lawmakers and the state’s Budget Secretary.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

Stripped Down Pension Bill Moves Out of State Senate Committee

The  state Senate Finance committee has moved a pension reform bill to the floor, after gutting most of Governor Corbett’s proposals.

The stripped down bill was amended to impact only future state and public school employees. Starting in 2015, they would be placed in a defined contribution 401 (a) plan.  The amendment removes all language affecting current employees.  Another amendment exempts state police and corrections officers.

Senator John Eichelberger (R-Blair) says action is needed now to deal with the SERS and PSERs unfunded pension liabilities.

Senator John Blake (D-Lackawanna) does not believe the bill will lead to lower pension costs and thinks it could cost taxpayers more in the long run.

The committee approved the bill by a 6 to 5 vote.

Despite the amendments which removed most of his proposals, Governor Tom Corbett commended the committee for voting SB 922 to the floor. He called the vote a positive step toward reform.

The Governor says he will continue to work with the legislature on other aspects of pension reform.