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Pa. Gov. Corbett fighting for re-election on fiscal concerns

Tom Corbett at 150th anniversary of Gettysburg Address
Tom Corbett at 150th anniversary of Gettysburg Address
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It might seem a no-brainer to anyone that has been paying even the slightest amount of attention to the financial difficulties that have been seen in cities like Detroit. Bankruptcy is the future for any local government that doesn't manage to wrangle the radically increasing costs of pensions for municipal employees. But what happens when the problem is with an entire state?

That's exactly what is happening in Pennsylvania, but it's not likely that it will save what seems to be the only person in government that is taking the issue seriously. Gov. Tom Corbett is hanging his reelection hopes on the possibility that his constituents will not only manage to muster at least a little interest in the issue of public employee pension funding, but will also come out to the polls in droves to keep him in office to deal with it. The problem is that the truly negative effects of failing to take care of the unfunded pension liabilities that will plague the financial future of the Commonwealth will not be obvious to Pennsylvanians until it is too late - long after the election this November. While experts on politics and the economy immediately recognize that the recent downgrading of Pennsylvania by Moody's is definitely not a good thing, it is difficult to sell this idea to the public - or even lawmakers.

Corbett is debating calling back the general assembly for a special session on pension reform, but because the proposal he's bringing to the table doesn't completely resolve the issue, even his political allies question that move. As for the public, they are undoubtedly questioning why the governor has theoretically squandered having a majority in the assembly, and hasn't managed to do anything major. Some had wanted to see privatization of liquor sales, at least.

Regardless, Corbett's reelection hopes hinge more on the GOP than anything else at this point. Because he's the least likely to survive through November, it's possible that much needed campaign financing will go to other races.