General Assembly should have some say over labor pacts

Gov. Tom Wolf recently negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME labor force that includes nearly 32,000 state employees.

According to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office, the agreement will cost the state $390 million over the next three years.

Under the way state government now works, Gov Wolf negotiated the agreement unilaterally with the state’s largest union. And he has the right to do the same regarding other agreements the state has.

As for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, it has one responsibility find the money from taxpayers to pay for the agreement and no negotiating power.

State Rep. Garth Everett, a Muncy Republican, is pushing legislation that would give the General Assembly the power to override the governor’s negotiation decisions.

We sorely need some check and balance over this or any future governor.

It’s not the pay increases are exorbitant they are in the 2 to 3 percent range.

But the state is struggling to balance its budgets and facing future fiscal woes, starting with an underfunded pension system that threatens to overrun the rest of the state budget.

Under similar circumstances in the private sector, work force reductions and pay freezes would be the likely scenario.

But our state government has shown for years it is not in touch with the fiscal realities that everyone else lives by.

Leaders simply spend more to solve problems and taxpayers with no right of refusal or oversight are expected to pay for it.

There at least needs to be a mechanism in place to make labor negotiations with state workers a matter that the General Assembly has some oversight over.