The Way I See It: Gov. Corbett's Re-election Bid
Gov. Corbett has made his re-election bid official. Here's a look back on his first four years, warts and all.
After months of talking about a run for a second term, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett kicked off a multiday, cross-state tour Nov. 6 – only days after this last election – in hopes of raising his profile with a year to go until Election Day 2014.
While we haven't even ushered in the next line of elected officials, we are presented once again with a challenge to get to know not only our Republican incumbent, but the slate of eight Democrats (you will learn about in the next column) who are vying to challenge him.
As you have all probably witnessed, a lot of press from local to national media outlets have made some not so flattering remarks about Corbett – and that includes me. As journalists, we should be unbiased in our reporting, however, in editorials (such as this one and others) we are granted the soapbox to stand on and talk about the way we see it (see what I did there?). In regards to Corbett, I most recently wrote about the new hotel that he provided funding for and questioned why those funds weren't being used towards more pertinent issues, say, like education.
And I still stand by those remarks.
However, the point of this article is to showcase that, just perhaps, Gov. Corbett isn't as bad as he is sometimes portrayed to be – stick with me, folks, and keep an open mind here, okay? I'm not saying he is the candidate we should choose, however, he has – for the most part – remained committed to the promises he offered during his campaign.
In his first term, he ran a scandal-free administration while keeping a low profile – something that most politicians these days cannot claim. He prided himself on making decisions that may not be popular, but ones he viewed as right.
He promised no new taxes and no new fees – which he has kept. When elected, he inherited $4.2 billion in state debt from then Gov. Ed Rendell. He not only eliminated that debt, but went on to deliver three consecutive, on-time budgets – which Rendell did not accomplish once during his eight years as governor.
He promised to shrink the size of state government (of which I am a huge proponent), and he went on to do that by 2.8 percent. The state government had 76,807 employees in 2010. Today, it has 74,634 for a reduction of 2,173 jobs.
He also promised job creation. His team claims 141,000 new jobs have been created since he took office. His opponents say this number is much lower – 75,000 – and lagging behind other states in job growth. No matter the number, though, there is an increase in job creation.
This all being said, he has also not delivered on some very key issues.
He promised a school voucher plan that would have allowed parents of children in failing public schools to obtain vouchers, so state public education funding could follow the student to a new school of the parents' choosing. This did not happen.
He promised the privatization of the wine and spirits industry (hasn't happened) and reform of the public employee pension system. Currently, the state worker and teacher pension systems are running a $47 billion shortfall. If it resurfaces this session, it will likely entail the state floating taxpayer-funded pension obligation bonds to meet short-term liabilities; in other words, pulling an Obama and "kicking the can down the road."
He also promised increased funding for transportation, bridges, and mass transit. Which hasn't happened (an issue that passed in the Senate, but was tabled in the House).
Right now his polling numbers only show that 20 percent of voters feel he deserves to return to office. A look back at Corbett's campaign pledges, though, does show he has delivered on many of his promises during his 34 months in office. These are facts. As a voter, your priorities on issues may very well be the ones that are the promises he hasn't kept, or issues that didn't even reach the light of day with his administration – and this I understand.
However, the way I see it is that not everything is always as it seems. As a voter you need to be armed with as much information about a candidate as possible before you enter a voting booth.
Corbett still has a year to try to prove he deserves a second term – a whole year. And his opponents have a year to show you why he doesn't. And during this time, I will give you as much information – as well as my own opinions – so that you make the best, and most informed, decision possible when it comes to the future of the Keystone State for the next four years.
Love? Hate? Agree? Disagree? I want to hear from you. Email me at rStyn@ErieReader.com, and follow me on Twitter @rStyn.