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Corbett Still Silent on Budget Cuts, Fails Key Test of Fiscal Discipline

Monday marks Day No. 5 that Attorney General has failed to respond to request to cut his own budget

PITTSBURGH: Campaigning this weekend in Luzerne County, Harrisburg Republican Tom Corbett didn’t hesitate to tell voters that, “We are going to have to cut and reduce our spending.” But Corbett’s campaign pledge apparently exempts his own office, since for the past five days the Attorney General has refused to agree to even a small reduction in his spending as a result of the state’s budget crisis.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Rendell announced a 1.9% cut in discretionary spending and asked the independent offices that he does not control to implement the same. According to news reports, the State Treasurer and the Pennsylvania Housing & Finance Agency both immediately agreed to the cuts.

Even Corbett’s GOP allies in the State Senate said that, “we would encourage independent agencies to do the same.” [Capitolwire, 8/18/2010]

At the Pittston Tomato Festival Parade on Saturday, Corbett told the Times-Leader that to balance the state budget, “we are going to have to bring fiscal discipline to Pennsylvania…. We are going to have to cut and reduce our spending.” [8/22/2010]

But there has been no response from Attorney General Tom Corbett to the state’s request that he implement a 1.9% reduction in his own discretionary spending this year.

“Tom Corbett says one thing on the campaign trail, but he’s been silent for five days when asked to live up to his political slogans even a little bit,” said Onorato Communications Director Brian Herman. “There is only one candidate who can make Harrisburg live within its means, and it’s Dan Onorato – who has balanced the budget for Pennsylvania’s second-largest county for six years in a row without ever increasing property taxes.”

Corbett has requested an increase in his office’s budget every year that he has served as Attorney General – despite calling for “across the board” spending cuts for everyone else. [Harrisburg Patriot-News, June 11, 2010]  He also says in a campaign policy paper that he will cut state administrative spending in all agencies by 10 percent if elected Governor. [Capitolwire, 3/22/2010]

This year alone, Corbett requested a 12% spending hike – even as the state was facing a massive budget crisis.

Corbett then mounted a vigorous defense of his spending plan. Appearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, “Corbett told lawmakers, while he’s been frugal and made cutbacks in his office, he could not guarantee [the] continued success of programs… without adding more staff.” [, 2/18 2010]

Corbett’s ally Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi has questioned whether Corbett could keep his budget promises and urged the GOP nominee to lay out his plan. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 6/28/2010]

Instead, Corbett has said that he wants to increase spending for welfare cash assistance grants and supplemental security income, addiction programs, agriculture, public education, pre-school, the educational improvement tax credit, workforce development, court administration and funding, venture capital investment, economic development and infrastructure.

A life-long Pennsylvanian, Dan Onorato was raised in a working class neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Side. He graduated college from Penn State and received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Onorato has served as Allegheny County Executive since 2004 and was unopposed for re-election in 2007.  Prior to being elected County Executive, Onorato served as Allegheny County Controller and a Pittsburgh City Councilman.  Dan and his wife Shelly reside in the Brighton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh with their three children.

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