The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

July 6, 2013

Analysis: Corbett at crossroads after budget

HARRISBURG — Some see Gov. Tom Corbett as the man who beat back tax increases, imposed difficult but necessary decisions to handle a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall and tried to keep the federal health insurance law at bay.

Others argue that he is weak, saying his Republican allies in the Legislature just handed him an embarrassing defeat on liquor privatization, transportation infrastructure and an overhaul of public pensions. Corbett also has pushed to privatize management of the Pennsylvania Lottery, but that initiative has also stalled amid political opposition and questions about its legality. Opponents attribute his poor public approval ratings to policy decisions regarding health care and education.

As Corbett begins to wade into a re-election campaign, some of his Republican friends wonder about his chances next year, and Democrats see an opening.

His Democratic predecessor, former Gov. Ed Rendell, isn’t counting Corbett out.

“I don’t think he has been hurt by this in any appreciable way,” Rendell said, adding that Corbett will be able to raise plenty of campaign money and will have the prestige and agenda-defining power of the governorship. “He has time to recover, but I think he needs some successes.”

The Corbett re-election effort just rolled out its first ad in what strategists believe will be a $30 million race next year. It seems less and less likely that he will attract a serious primary opponent.

Campaign adviser John Brabender thinks the governor can sell his story to key swing groups – moderate Republicans in the Philadelphia suburbs, conservative Democrats in Johnstown, Erie and Scranton, and independents who may have voted for Corbett in 2010 and President Barack Obama last year.

Expect to hear a lot from him about jobs, taxes, government reform and, perhaps surprisingly, education, where he has been hammered over layoffs, property tax increases and larger class sizes but just signed a funding increase.

He can also talk about enacting Marcellus Shale regulations and an impact fee on gas drilling, changes in laws governing civil lawsuits, on-time budgets, a fix to the broken unemployment compensation system and abortion regulations.

“We are going to aggressively start sharing the Tom Corbett story in Pennsylvania,” Brabender said. “And we are not going to be shy about pointing out legitimate contrasts that he has with the many Democrats that are trying to raise a lot of money and run.”

One of them is Allyson Schwartz, a Democratic congresswoman from the Philadelphia suburbs who was quick to capitalize on the collapse of Corbett’s non-budget agenda last week.

“We need better leadership in Pennsylvania, and Gov. Corbett’s failure in this budget cycle demonstrates his lack of leadership,” Schwartz said, blaming him for cuts to education and disputing his new mantra about historically high levels of state support for K-12 schools.

“Being an incumbent governor, he has to stand up for what he has been and what he has accomplished – or not,” she said.

Corbett’s numbers should increase if he spends more time outside Harrisburg, said David Patti, president of the Pennsylvania Business Council.

He said the governor also should continue to press for approval of the agenda that broke down in the General Assembly.

“Pennsylvanians who don’t do this for a living, who don’t do this every day, if they see a transportation bill in September instead of July, I don’t think that’s a big deal to them,” Patti said.

One of Corbett’s allies in the House, Majority Whip Stan Saylor, R-York, said that a lot can happen before the November 2014 election and that even the education cuts have a positive aspect politically.

“I don’t think you judge somebody before the completion of his term,” Saylor said. “If you want to blame the governor for not raising taxes to bring that billion dollars back, blame him for that.”

If Corbett loses, it’s likely that female voters will be one reason, so Democrats are focusing on education, health care and his anti-abortion-rights positions. Other potential liabilities include the Penn State investigation and ill-fated lawsuit against the NCAA, failure of a school choice push last year and an investigation by his successor as attorney general into how the sex abuse investigation into former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was handled.

“No one is finding this guy appealing, except for the chamber and those types of associations,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesman Marc Eisenstein. “Even this time around, the legislators didn’t find him appealing.”

The governor has 15 months to convince voters that he deserves another term.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
State News
  • TSA finds gun, ammo in Pittsburgh airport carry-on

    The Transportation Security Administration says it found a pistol and ammunition in man’s carry-on bag as he passed through security at Pittsburgh International Airport.

    July 28, 2014

  • Youth pastor fired, jailed after teen-sex charges

    A youth pastor has been fired by a western Pennsylvania church and jailed on charges he performed sex acts with a 15-year-old girl in their church building.

    July 28, 2014

  • Luksik, Peg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray. Johnstown resident Peg Luksik, who twice ran for governor as the Constitutional Party nominee, knows what it's like.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scaife remembered for strong convictions

    At a weekend memorial service, publisher Richard Mellon Scaife was remembered by the archbishop of Washington as someone who had the courage to stand “for things that mattered.”

    July 27, 2014

  • DePasquale Auditor: More Marcellus Shale well inspectors needed

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the past century.
    But boom times in the Marcellus Shale are bringing online thousands more wells that use a complicated process requiring more careful oversight.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Strained relationship between Corbett, Legislature not new

    Poking and prodding the Legislature to act on pension reform, Gov. Tom Corbett urged lawmakers to shorten their summer break and come back to the Capitol early.
    It’s a modest victory. The House will return to session Aug. 4, instead of the middle of September. And there’s little hint that lawmakers intend to knock themselves out trying to satisfy the governor.

    July 26, 2014

  • Wolf: Wealthy should pay more to cut school taxes

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf would make a centerpiece of his first budget proposal an increase in income taxes on Pennsylvania’s higher-earners to help expand the state’s share of public education funding in exchange for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in local property taxes levied by school boards.

    July 26, 2014

  • Penn State Abuse 27 Son: Joe Paterno afraid of wrongly accusing Sandusky

    Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno told his son the day after his firing that he hadn’t informed the coaching staff about allegations Jerry Sandusky may be a child molester because he was unsure whether they were true, Jay Paterno writes in a new book.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • State in Brief | Two guns found at alleged hospital shooter's home

    Authorities found two more guns at the home of a man suspected of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist in suburban Philadelphia before the doctor pulled out his own weapon and fired back.

    July 26, 2014

  • Woman raising stink about people using backyard near turnpike as a rest stop

    A Pennsylvania woman says she can see drivers who pull off the side of a highway relieving themselves near her backyard, and state police have been asked to increase patrols.

    July 23, 2014

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads