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Court Decision Muddy Act 47 Powers

A recent court ruling highlights how difficult it will be for the state to come up with ways for its financially troubled cities to make steps toward solvency. The day before Pennsylvania lawmakers gathered to consider changes to the state's Act 47 program for cities going broke, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the city of Scranton has to pay its fire and police union members according to an arbitrated agreement.

Those awards aren't in keeping with the fiscal recovery plan the city signed up for when it entered the program. Representative Chris Ross (R- Chester) and chair of the state Senate Urban Affairs Committee, feels the ruling ignores the city's fiscal situation.

"The Supreme Court decision at least to the degree that I understand it right now seems to balance a little bit away from recognizing some of the financial distress of the municipalities," said Ross.

A spokesman from the state Department of Community and Economic Development calls the ruling a bump in the road to getting cities back to solvency. The director of the state's Local Government Commission says legislation can keep future arbitration awards from trumping Act 47 recovery plans.

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