Oh the hypocrisy.
For the past year,Governor Corbett has been attacking the people who keep Pennsylvania, the government entity, running by creating this makers and takers argument when it comes to the pension crisis he’s been campaigning on. During this time, the governor has been attacking, and blaming, the state unions for his failed pension reform, which would force future employees into a defined contribution plan, which is a 401k system, and would still not address the state’s 40 some odd billion dollar underfunded pension obligations.
One of the Governor Corbett’s main tactics during this time was to hold education funding hostage over pension reform. More recently, Governor Corbett promised to sign the Philadelphia cigarette tax, which would open some sort funding stream to the Philadelphia School District, if the Republican controlled legislature passed pension reform during the budget debacle. The General Assembly failed to send both of those initiatives to Governor Corbett. In the beginning of this process, Department of Education Secretary Ron Tomalis was acting as a surrogate for pension reform.
In January 2013, WGAL reported:
He saw a demonstration of how juniors and seniors in Hempfield, Manheim Township and Penn Manor schools can take some classes online. Tomalis defended the his boss’ approach.
“That’s money that’s not being spent on other areas or invested in other areas. I can’t see how pension reform isn’t linked to education reform,” Tomalis said.
In October 2013, Lancaster Online published:
Tomalis also addressed the state’s mounting pension debt, which is shared with school districts, pointing out that school employee pension payments are costing the state $500 million more this year than they did in 2011-12.
“If we’re trying to provide as much support as we can to our kids in the public education system, we’ll be limited if we don’t get pension reform, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s an issue we have to tackle this year,” he said.
Ronald Tomalis stepped down as the Department of Education Secretary in June 2013, and was then hired as an “education adviser” for the DoE. In recent weeks, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Tomalis was a ghostworker, and the Allentown Morning Call reported that Tomalis’ pension account has greatly benefitted by this non-existent position. They stated:
But Corbett’s decision to retain former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis as an adviser the past 15 months likely will increase the long-term debt by tens of thousands of dollars and provide Tomalis nearly $7,000 more each year in pension payments.
Tomalis’ pension would have been based on a 2 percent multiplier if Corbett had dismissed him in spring 2013, when the governor named a new education secretary. But Corbett kept Tomalis as a higher education adviser, qualifying him for a 2.5 percent multiplier for all his years of employment. Tomalis earlier worked nearly seven years under Gov. Tom Ridge, according to State Employees’ Retirement System records obtained under the Right-to-Know Law.
Ronald Tomalis acted as a surrogate for Governor Corbett’s pension reform, which has become a key campaign issue, during his time as the education secretary and as a ghostworker. Because of his ghostworker position on the DoE’s payroll, Tomalis will be getting an extra $7,000 a year in pension payments. The hypocrisy reeks.