Tick, tick, tick...
State government and school districts have been hearing the sound of a time bomb for some time, years in fact, but have done precious little to figure out which wire to cut.
The time bomb, of course, is the state pension system. It once was simply a state employee problem, but then, a few years ago, public school teachers who were members of the Pennsylvania State Education Association were given parity with their brethren in state service. That made it a worry for local school districts as well.
Now, as the time draws nye for a spike in pension contributions by Harrisburg and the more than 500 school districts around the state already smarting from state subsidy cuts, the legislature is beating its chest that something has to be done and done fast.
Sen. Jack Corman, R-Centre, is chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and expressed this week that "there's no tax increase that is palatable, there's no spending cuts that are palatable to make room for the contributions of where this pension obligation would go for the state." No, Mr. Corman was not dealing in hyperbole.
In fact, the gorilla that has been sitting quietly in the corner, all but ignored by lawmakers and administration for too long, has begun to make noise that no one can ignore.
Corman pledged that the General Assembly would "absolutely, positively" tackle the pension bomb in next year's budget.
We wish him well in his quest for a solution and hope that both sides of the aisle will set aside partisan posturing to defuse this ticking time bomb. Because, if they don't - if they sputter and spit and come to naught as they have time and again with real tax reform -then the fiscal viability of not just one or two, but several school districts could be at stake.