Yep, all of Corbett's woes are all on him. Especially now that he's in the middle of a budget crisis that is lacking his signature:The one GOP governor in the country almost certain to lose this November is Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, who rode to office in 2010 on a tea party wave while Republicans secured control of both legislative chambers. What has the governor since done to reverse his political fortunes? Not much of anything, which may be his problem.
A poll last week by Franklin and Marshall College showed the governor trailing his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by 22 points, which is on par with recent Rasmussen, Quinnipiac and Public Policy Polling surveys. Only one in four voters believe Mr. Corbett should be re-elected, and just 27% rate his performance as "excellent" or "good." But here's the rub: Only half of Republicans say their standard-bearer deserves a second-term.
Note that Mr. Corbett's economic record is no worse than that of his Republican peers in the Midwest whom are all favored by polls to win re-election. The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.6%, which is roughly the same as in Ohio and Wisconsin and two percentage-points lower than in Michigan. What's more, Ohio's John Kasich and Wisconsin's Scott Walker were elected by slimmer margins than Mr. Corbett in 2010.
And like his colleagues in the Midwest, Mr. Corbett has benefited from a Republican legislative majority. Mr. Walker capitalized on GOP control to reform collective bargaining. Mr. Snyder passed right-to-work legislation. Mr. Kasich cut business and personal income taxes. What has Mr. Corbett done? He hasn't raised taxes, which is something. But he's repeatedly failed to achieve his top two priorities: pension reform and liquor-store privatization. - Wall Street Journal, 7/7/14
We'll find out what he does tomorrow:The budget bill landed on Corbett's desk on July 1, giving him 10 days to sign it, veto the entire thing or veto certain objectionable spending items before it becomes law on its own. For now, he isn't saying what he'll do.
But he has a lot to think about after a roller-coaster spring legislative session for his fellow Republicans who control the Legislature.
Corbett set the tone in mid-June by saying, in varying ways, that he would not sign the budget or consider a tax increase until lawmakers passed legislation to pare back public pension benefits and liberalize state liquor laws.
Neither reached his desk.
"It was not for lack of trying by the House and Senate," said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson.
The $29.1 billion spending plan now on Corbett's desk is a patchwork marvel.
There is the rosy 3.5 percent revenue growth projection. There is $600 million in found cash. And there is an additional $2 billion in one-time transfers from off-budget funds or one-time cash expectations that amount to the biggest use of stop-gaps outside of the three years around the Great Recession.
It even includes $400 million in delayed payments to health care providers — a maneuver that prompted Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, to call it the "Wimpy budget" in a nod to the legendary moocher from the Popeye cartoon who was famous for saying, "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
Every single Democrat voted against the budget bill after advocating unsuccessfully for higher taxes on the booming natural gas industry and sales of tobacco products. They now warn that the Republicans' budget will leave the state's finances in an even bigger lurch next year.
"We'll start to see that problem manifest itself in, I think, January, February or March of next year and it's going to lead to ... anywhere from a $2.5 billion to a $2 billion structural deficit that we're going to have to deal with," said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny.
Another shoe could fall sooner: Standard & Poor's warned two months ago that it could downgrade Pennsylvania's bond rating if it did not see significant strides to address built-in budget deficits and long-term pension liabilities.
On Wednesday, House Republican leadership gave up until the fall on the pension legislation that Corbett had sought, but only after a series of ugly procedural jousts around it and an unsuccessful bid to squeeze support out of Philadelphia Democrats by holding up a critical funding bill for the city's public schools.
In the meantime, senators are returning to the Capitol on Tuesday after a fight between House and Senate Republican leaders hung up a budget-related bill that directs hundreds of millions of dollars in spending and is packed with lawmakers' pet wants.
Corbett's budget secretary, Charles Zogby, said the administration never agreed to the details of the spending plan that lawmakers approved. Corbett's decision on what to do with it will involve whether it takes too many risks to balance and whether it is acceptable without some sort of relief from rising pension costs, Zogby said. - The Patriot-News, 7/5/14
But even if Corbett does sign the budget, the biggest issue that will take him down against Tom Wolf (D. PA) in the general election is education:Corbett has 10 days to either sign or veto the budget from when it arrived on his desk July 1, or it automatically becomes law. He initially praised the budget’s “significant investments” in education, jobs and human services, but he declined to sign.
“It leaves pensions, one of the largest expenses to the commonwealth and our school districts, on the table, leaving the weight on Pennsylvania taxpayers and perpetuating the tug of war over state funding every single year,” he said in a statement. “I am withholding signing the budget passed by the General Assembly while I deliberate its impact on the people of Pennsylvania.”
Democrats unanimously voted against the budget in June, hoping to include higher taxes on the natural gas industry and the sale of tobacco, the Associated Press reports. “We’ll start to see that problem manifest itself in, I think, January, February or March of next year, and it’s going to lead to … anywhere from a $2.5 billion to a $2 billion structural deficit that we’re going to have to deal with,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) told the Associated Press. - Washington Post, 7/7/14
And some Senate Democrats are pushing to get things done without Corbett:And, thanks to a Franklin & Marshall College poll released last week, we know that public education funding will be near the top of voters' shopping lists as they compare the two candidates.
Fairly or unfairly, Corbett is still blamed for maintaining state aid for education at its pre-stimulus levels when he took office in 2011.
He's thus blamed for cutting $1 billion from the schools -- even though, as the administration correctly maintains, it increased the basic subsidy for each of the last three of four years (it's flat-lined in this year's budget in favor of block grants that the administration says will give districts more flexibility to target spending).
Not quite a quarter of respondents (22 percent) in the F&M poll tapped education as their top issue when considering whether to vote for Corbett or Wolf, a York County businessman and former Rendell administration official.
That was followed by 13 percent who picked the economy/jobs as their top issues. A range of smaller factors garnered smaller percentages, The Citizens-Voice reports.
Wolf has proposed using a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drillers to fund a variety of priorities, including public education. Corbett has resisted such a tax -- even though it gained some currency as lawmakers sought to fill a $1.2 billion structural deficit.
Corbett has pushed for pension relief, arguing that school districts will be forced to impose massive tax increases in response to rising retirement costs. He was stymied in that goal during this month's debate, but could get a vote this fall. - The Patriot-News, 7/7/14
With Corbett being so toxic, neither Democrats or Republicans want anything to do with him. Meanwhile, Wolf has been out on the campaign trail promoting his vision for Pennsylvania's future:Charlie Deitch reports that state Senator Wayne Fontana (and we’ve heard Erin Molchany in the House, though not sure if that’s been reported yet) is introducing a bill to create a new “transportation network” category in the PA code that would legalize e-hailing apps Uber X and Lyft in Pennsylvania. Since Tom Corbett’s PUC appointees think their job is to protect monopoly rents for incumbent taxi fleet owners, rather than provide safe and convenient taxi markets for PA’s cities – it’s become important to override them by creating this new category, similar to regulations in Colorado and California that regulate safety while encouraging more competition and choice:
After saying on Wednesday that he would fight for innovation, Mayor Bil Peduto announced this morning that state Sen. Wayne Fontana is preparing legislation int he state senate to permit the operation of rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber.
“State Sen. Wayne Fontana is set to introduce legislation to allow for operation of these innovative transportation systems and I support similar bipartisan efforts being introduced in the House,” Peduto said in a statement. “In the interim I fully support a resolution being introduced by State Rep. Erin Molchany calling on the Public Utility Commission to issue provisional approvals for the companies Lyft and Uber to operate this weekend to alleviate pressing public safety concerns about drunk driving this holiday weekend.” - Keystone Politics, 7/7/14
And Wolf officially launched his Super PAC:Made in Pennsylvania — that’s what Democratic candidate for governor Tom Wolf promoted on Monday as he visited start-up companies in Pittsburgh.
“This is actually a real popular piece here — the Pittsburgh skyline,” Alejandro Sklar, co-founder of PieceMaker Technologies told Wolf. “We’ve personalized it with PieceMaker. People can put their own personal message on that in the store.”
That’s a plastic device that individuals can design themselves at 3-D kiosks now being demonstrated at several area stores before a larger roll-out later this year by a company called PieceMaker Technologies.
The Democratic nominee picked Alpha Lab in East Liberty as a good place to meet start-up companies and talk to them about how best to keep them in Pennsylvania.
“To have a candidate come visit and listen to us is really important,” noted Arden Rosenblatt, co-founder of PieceMaker Technologies. “It’s a conversation we want to have with anyone.”
With a Ph. D. from MIT, Wolf seemed genuinely interested in the start-ups.
“This could be revolutionary for inventory,” noted Wolf. “I mean you could actually order stuff on your computer and have it printed at your desk while you’re ordering it, right?” - CBS Pittsburgh, 7/7/14
Click here if you want to get involved:The “Campaign for a Fresh Start” was launched after Wolf pulled out of a fight with Democratic state committee chairman Jim Burn. The Democratic nominee wanted former DEP Secretary, and ex-gubernatorial rival, Katie McGinty to take over while Burn refused to step aside.
The PAC, which Wolf said would be headed by McGinty, was a way to avoid a floor fight and Burn ended up being re-elected unanimously.
Today, Chairwoman McGinty published a letter on the organization’s’ new website freshstartpa.org.
“Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of the Campaign for a Fresh Start, a new organization that is coordinating with Tom Wolf and House and Senate Democrats to help bring real change to Harrisburg,” she writes.
“I was honored when Tom asked me to serve as Chair of the Campaign for a Fresh Start, but I also know that we need all Pennsylvanians concerned about the future of our state standing with us if we’re going to win in November,” McGinty continued. “Governor Corbett and his allies have harmed working families with their misguided policies, but it’s on us to help elect Tom Wolf and Democratic majorities in the legislature who will create jobs, invest in education, and rebuild a strong middle class.”
She went on to ask supporters to spread awareness of the PAC and it’s website through the typical online avenues Facebook and Twitter. - Politics PA, 7/7/14
Things are really good for Team Blue here but we cannot take anything for granted. So please do donate and get involved with Wolf's campaign, State Senator Mike Stack's (D. PA) Lt. Governor campaign and with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party so we can also take back the State Senate: