Last month, when the Pennsylvania House Republicans sunk the pension reform bill – a part of the budget package that Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Democrats and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf agreed upon – Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman stood on the capitol rotunda steps taking verbal jabs at House Democrats for abandoning their governor and conservative House Republicans for not standing with the Speaker and Majority Leader. The pension reform bill sunk like a lead brick. All of the House Democrats voted against the bill as they said they would and left it up to the Republican caucus to vote for they bill. Some speculate that they voted against the bill because it did not go far enough or it would stave off an eventual tax vote in the Chamber, meaning a vote for pension reform is a vote for tax increases.
Since the beginning of the budget fight, which began in March when Governor Wolf gave his inaugural budget presentation, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman laid the ultimatum. There will not be any tax increases until all five parties agreed on some sort of pension reform, and he has stuck to his word since them.
When the pension bill sunk in the House, Senator Corman went right into who supports the bill and who does not. Two national organizations that he said support the bill were the Pew Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council. The only video footage of the senator from that day making these assertions can be found at Roxbury News.
In the video clip, the Senator described the pension overhaul as a:
A reform the was praised by the two largest chambers of commerce in Pennsylvania. Praised by national organizations like Pew Foundation and ALEC, a conservative organization.
After he claims that the bill was supported by the organizations, Corman takes shots at public sector unions for killing the bill, even though more than half of Republicans voted against it.
In 2013, the Pew Foundation released a FAQ on “Why Pew Works with States on Pension Reform,” and in the questionnaire, the organization states why they are “parenting with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. At the time, the organization stated:
We share the goal to help states design and adopt retirement systems that are fair, affordable and fiscally sustainable—while at the same time preserving governments’ ability to recruit and retain a talented public-sector workforce. We realize there is no one-size-fits all solution so we offer policymakers information that can help them offer retirement security to public workers, protect taxpayers and maintain the state’s ability to deliver important public services.
Around that same time, Matt Taibbi from the Rolling Stone exposed John Arnold for being a hedge fund manager who has profited off of state and municipal pension overhauls. A few months later, Philadelphia native and investigative journalist David Sirota reported that the “Pew Center on the States, without mentioning that Arnold is financing Pew’s pension research with a $4.8 million grant.”
A month after State Senator Jake Corman admitted that the Pew Foundation and ALEC both praised Pennsylvania for it’s approach on pension reforms, State Senator Jake Corman appeared on WITF Smart Talk, a local National Public Radio and Public Radio International affiliate, and cited ALEC for calling Pennsylvania “the leader in pension reform.”
Take a listen to the audio below. Disclaimer, State Senator Jake Corman was choking back the word “ALEC” but eventually came around to calling the organization by it’s proper name. The American Legislative Exchange Council.