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Corbett May Have To Settle For Watered Down Pension Reform Bill

(Gov. Tom Corbett.  File photo by Tony Romeo)

(Gov. Tom Corbett. File photo by Tony Romeo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — If Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is going to get the pension reform he’s been seeking, it appears it will be in significantly watered-down form.

Seeking to control the spiraling costs of pensions for teachers and state employees, Corbett proposed to put new hires into a defined contribution plan, while reducing the future earned benefits of current teachers and employees.

But Erik Arneson, spokesman for the Senate majority leader, says his boss and other top Republicans have concluded that only the first half of that plan is feasible.

“There is a significant body of case law which makes it very questionable whether you can change the benefits of current employees in the system, even going forward,” Arneson said.

So the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday advanced a bill that would address future teachers and employees only by shifting them to a 401k-type plan, a move nonetheless hailed by the governor as a positive step.