With Matt Brouillette of Commonwealth Foundation (center) are Whitey Coyne, Lisa Esler, Charles Martini and William Lawrence Sr.
Matt Brouillette, president and CEO of the Harrisburg-based Commonwealth Foundation, one of the nation’s top think tanks, gave a sobering talk this evening, April 28, about what taxpayer activists and fighters of corruption face in Pennsylvania.
He said the reform Gov. Tom Corbett is pushing regarding the state-controlled distribution of liquor is “not about getting the government out of the booze business but giving the appearance of convenience.”
The privatization of the state owned “Wine & Spirits Shoppes” is popular with the populace across partisan lines. It’s not going to happen because it is not popular with special interests who send the bucks to legislators.
On a much more frightening note, Brouillette also said critically needed pension reform is not going to happen either. He said state workers were “circling the wagons” to stop legislation to change their pension from a defined benefit one to the defined contribution one now the norm in the private sector.
He said the largest state-backed pension funds SERS and PSERS, that handle the retirement money for state workers and school teachers respectively, have unfunded liability of $57 billion and it’s “going up”. He noted that local school districts are on the hook for half of PSERS money so expect massive property tax hikes.
“There is a general lack of will to tackle the pension crisis,” he said. He said the solutions being proposed involve the state cutting its regular contributions and will only make things worse.
“If Republicans controlled the governor, house and senate, we might get some resolutions,” he said. After a pause, he said “You are supposed to laugh at that” the punchline being that the Republicans do have complete control in Pennsylvania.
“It’s not funny,” said a woman in the audience.
“The Big Government Party is the majority party in Pennsylvania,” he said. “And it has both Republicans and Democrats.”
Brouillette said that is the reason why his group is pushing paycheck protection as the priority.
Paycheck protection is found pending legislation HB 1507 and SB 1034 that ban the use of public resources to collect, bundle and transmit public sector union dues and PAC contributions.
“If an elected official tried to have money automatically deducted from an employees paycheck (to use for a campaign) they would go to jail.”
The PSEA and other government unions can do just that legally and without the employees permission as how to use it.
He said this is the main reason why the Big Government Party is in the majority in the state.
Brouillette says the Republicans are two votes shy in the senate of getting the reforms passed.
Brouillette also said that HB 1154, the bill that would end the allowance for union members to stalk, harass and threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction during labor disputes, was amended in the Senate in a way that supporters in the House fear that it was neutered.
In other matters, support was requested for Megan Rath who is taking on Democrat Congressman Bob Brady in Pennsylvania’s 1st District and for Bob Guzzardi who is running against incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett in the May 20 Republican Primary. Guzzardi, who is also a vocal opponent of Common Core, has made fighting for pension reform a linchpin of his campaign.
Lisa Esler noted that the group will be participating in an NRA Women on Target Instructional Shooting Clinic, June 28, at the Northern Chester County Sportsmen’s Club. The cost is $35 and covers the use of firearms, ammunition, shoot supplies, a t-shirt and goodied bag along with snacks. Call Theresa Reynolds at 610-304-5873 for information or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Heider announced that there will a Twitter clinic co-hosted by Americans for Prosperity, 6:30 p.m., June 19, at the Marple Public Library. Call 610-572-3442 for information or to register.