Biz Groups Defend Corbett Drug Test Remark as Dem Hopefuls Pile On

PDN Big bong theory
The Philly Daily News lampooned Corbett on Wednesday’s cover

Applicants failing drug tests – or being unwilling to take them – is a genuine problem for employers, business leaders said Wednesday. They were defending Gov. Tom Corbett from an onslaught of criticism for citing drug tests as a factor in Pennsylvania’s flat job growth rate.

“Asking me, ‘do you hear this from employers?’ is like asking ‘is the sky blue?’” said David Taylor, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association.

“A manufacturing firm has to go through hundreds of applicants just to get 4 or 5 or 6 hires.”

He said it’s not just that applicants fail the tests. It’s that, on learning they are required, applicants walk away.

Pa. Chamber of Commerce President Gene Barr agrees. He told Fox 43, “We frequently hear from member companies that this is absolutely a problem for them. It is especially an issue for industries that have a zero tolerance policy on drug and alcohol use.”

“The over-reaction to the governor’s statement lends nothing to a reasoned debate,” Barr said.

The statement Barr is referring to:

“There are many employers who say, look, we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test, a lot of them,” Corbett said during an interview with

He made the remark in the context of a broader conversation about why Pa.’s job growth rate lags other states and ways to boost manufacturing. (Why does the growth rate actually lag? It’s complicated.)

Taylor said the issue was a real one, but not so big that it has a significant impact on the job market as a whole.

“I wouldn’t connect this to the overall economic picture,” Taylor said.

Democrats seized on the comment as proof yet again that Corbett looks down on out of work Pennsylvanians.

“Governor Corbett’s response to his own failed leadership on the economy shifts between making excuses and blaming and insulting the people of Pennsylvania,” said Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-Montco). “Either way, Pennsylvanians know it’s obviously time for a new governor.”

She was the first 2014 gubernatorial candidate to respond to the remark.

Former DEP Secretary John Hanger was the second.

“As long as we have Tom Corbett as Governor, Pennsylvania is going to be in the middle a jobs crisis. He continues to govern under the influence of failed economic policies,” he said.

“Gov. Corbett is regurgitating disparaging and unproven rumors as gospel truth. His statement about rampant drug abuse by unemployed Pennsylvanians and this abuse being the cause of the state’s high unemployment rate misses the mark and ignores his failed economic policies and disastrous budget cuts,” echoed state Sen. Mike Stack (D-Phila).

“Corbett’s mud-slinging is another example of throwing the underdog under the bus while his fat-cat pals get a ride down easy street… Gov. Corbett is desperately looking for a scapegoat.”

Here is the Hanger video:

12 Responses

  1. Is not the competitive-disadvantage in PA [because it’s so heavily unionized] a reasonable explanation for flat-growth?

  2. tommyd… employers have already started excluding tobacco users (justifiably in my opinion) as we have seen with a number of health care providers. I would not be shocked if employers started excluding for other unhealthy behaviors as health care costs increase. This impacts the poor disproportionately as they smoke more, drink more, use drugs more, and are more likely to be obese.

  3. maybe if one term tommy would stop giving everything to his corporate buddies (see fracking and the chamber of commerce) there would be some money left for social programs for these so called addicts. i suspect the real problem isn’t drug or alcohol use but that the business owners don’t want to pay more than a few bucks an hour because they are aware of our high unemployment. i am retired but if i were younger i would probably rather stay home ands drink cheap booze than go to work for minimum wage. the proof is in the numbers. corporations are richer today than they have ever been and if they can’t get you to work for next to nothing they don’t really care.

  4. If health care costs are the issue, maybe employees should be tested for nicotine, cholesterol, sugar intake, genetic predispositions for disease, fertility in women, exposure to stress, exposure to toxic pollutants, exposure to toxins or hazards in the workplace – no, wait…

  5. Ryan-

    Should we drug-test the employers and take away their businesses from them if they fail?

    Maybe if the bosses didn’t indulge in drink/drugs/tobacco/etc they would do better at running their businesses and be able to hire more workers.

    We should definitely be doing random drug tests on elected officials if they think the problem with unemployment is the workers.

  6. Isaac does not realize employers do have a vested interest in their employees not using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs: health care costs. Basically if you are an employer, you want someone who eats healthy, does not smoke, drink, or use drugs. This does not even take any liability insurance and productivity issues into account.

    I would go as far as saying employers who don’t test are doing themselves a disservice.

  7. Or maybe, you know, companies shouldn’t intrude on their employees’ personal lives as long as they don’t negatively affect their job performance. Having a drink or smoking a bowl after work is nobody else’s business. Good for those people for standing up for their rights.

  8. The Tea Party and conservative base is disenchanted with Gov. Corbett’s failure to produce. However, any businessman knows he is right. The posters are not running business and are clueless as to challenges.

    Using drugs is an individual choice. It acceptable, even glamorized, in segments of population. The Drug Culture is a social phenomenon, not an economic one. There is a drug user demographic and a demographic for those who justify and excuse and blame every one except user. AA works because it is spiritually based and because it relies o. Personal commitment. Attacking Corbett for not spending enough only appeals to rich MontCo Libs, not to people who have built businesses or who are Tax Makers.

  9. I keep hearing that Corbett has delivered on everything that he promised! Yes- he ran as TEA Party guy. TEA party guys aren’t interested in Economic Development because they and their families already have jobs. If the public wanted a job creator and a person who would be a strong advocate to grow PA’s economy they would have elected Onorato. Now we find the aged white males in the Corbett adminstration taking Romney’s 47% arguments and injecting some steriods: the 47% just want to stay home and shoot up all day. By the way, do you need to pass a drug test to sit as a Knight at Corbett’s Round Table?

  10. Tom Corbetts slashing of human service funding has led to delays in treatment for mental Heath, drug and alcohol abuse treatment according to a REPUBLICAN rep.

    If its such a big problem since we have all these unemployed (because they are on drugs) how do you explain your cuts, which have impeded those from obtaining proper treatment? Seems rather hypocritical.

  11. What are these idiots smoking? Most, if not all, private employers have required a drug test as a condition of employment for 20, if not more!!

  12. Corbett can’t defend his own remarks so his biggest contributors and beneficiaries of his tax cuts, handouts, lax regulation and corporate welfare are lining up to defend his indefensible remarks. This guy is pathetic. I guess instead of giving Corbett and Mrs. Corbett free trips and clothes, all of the contributors and influence buyers will engage in this “defense” ONE TERM TOM!

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