This week, even more than last week, was dominated by budget news as the Governor weighed whether to sign or veto the bill. Ultimately, Gov. Corbett would sign the budget while under the radar, the campaigns staked out their positions and took shots at each other.
Underneath all the rhetoric, however, one can glimpse the budgetary priorities of each candidate, making this back-and-forth particularly vital for the voters.
The primary disadvantage for the incumbent throughout this entire ordeal was that while he had to deal with the messy budget wrangling, his opponent could stand aside and launch attacks from afar. The Governor’s campaign attempted to counteract this by egging on the Democratic nominee to offer his own budget.
“[Given] Tom Wolf’s lack of any budget plan of his own and his own sour record as Rendell’s top tax collector where Wolf certified revenue projections that were so far off, it’s difficult to determine whether they were the result of fantasy or gross incompetence,” Corbett-Cawley Press Secretary Billy Pitman said.
“His silence is deafening and further demonstrates that Secretary Tom Wolf’s campaign is nothing more than a redux of Governor Ed Rendell’s political opportunism and lack of leadership.”
After the deliberation over the budget passed, the campaign transitioned to hammering Wolf on the Governor’s pet issue throughout this process, pension reform. Gov. Corbett’s concerns with pensions are what caused him to hesitate to sign the budget in the first place and he spent a significant amount of time talking about it during his Thursday press conference. As a result, the Corbett-Cawley team posted a web video, entitled “See No Evil”, that seeks to portray Wolf as oblivious or in denial about what the Governor claims is an impending crisis.
“Millionaire Secretary Tom Wolf has repeatedly denied the existence of a pension crisis in Pennsylvania because he is more concerned about special interest groups than he is the hardworking people of Pennsylvania,” Corbett-Cawley Communications Director Chris Pack said.
“Someone ought to tell Secretary Wolf that leadership isn’t about taking the path of least resistance, it is making the tough decisions necessary for the betterment of Pennsylvania regardless of the political consequences,” Pack insisted. “Unfortunately, Secretary Tom Wolf continues to demonstrate through his refusal to take positions on the tough issues, or to even acknowledge our pension crisis, that his campaign is nothing more than calculated political opportunism.”
The Democratic nominee unexpectedly also found himself a bit on the defensive thanks to the release Governor Corbett’s first general election TV ad. The commercial was a positive spot that sought to highlight the Governor’s first-term accomplishments. Not surprisingly, the Wolf campaign disputed the ad’s assertions.
“In his latest misleading ad, Tom Corbett is again attempting to hide his failed record that has resulted in Pennsylvania plummeting to the bottom in job creation,” Wolf Campaign Spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said. “Tom Wolf is a different kind of leader and a proven job creator. Tom will invest in Pennsylvania’s schools and make education a priority by implementing a reasonable severance tax. Tom will use his business experience to get the economy moving again, starting with a focus on increasing manufacturing in Pennsylvania, and he will change the culture of Harrisburg by implementing a full gift ban. Tom Wolf will give Pennsylvania the fresh start it sorely needs after four years of Tom Corbett’s failed policies.”
In what may be an interesting sign of things to come, FreshStartPA also came to Wolf’s defense. The PAC was created by Wolf as a way to sidestep the Democratic State Committee after a dispute over the chairmanship and their response indicates it will have a significant presence in this race.
“With Tom Corbett’s weak leadership and failed policies, it’s not a surprise that he would bend the truth in an attempt to hide his record. But Pennsylvanians who have suffered under Corbett’s governorship will not be mislead by his faulty claims,” Katie McGinty, Chairwoman for the Campaign for a Fresh Start said.
“Pennsylvania currently faces a $1.4 billion deficit thanks to Tom Corbett’s budget mismanagement and he cannot even convince a legislature controlled by his own party to back his priorities,” she continued. “Corbett’s weak leadership is embarrassing, but it is his record of decimating public school funding and sinking Pennsylvania to 49th in the nation in job creation that really highlights why we need a new, strong voice to lead our commonwealth.”
Finally in the aftermath of Corbett’s decision to sign the budget, Tom Wolf assessed the economic blueprint and the process behind it as a whole.
“Over the last four years, Governor Corbett has displayed a lack of leadership when it comes to addressing the needs of Pennsylvania’s economy and schools,” the Democratic nominee wrote. “The governor has refused to support a responsible and reasonable severance tax to fund our schools and he has failed to find solutions to the state’s struggling economy, which has plummeted to 49th in job creation.”
“Governor Corbett’s latest budget – true to form – is not a blueprint for the future, but another missed opportunity that will keep our state stuck in neutral,” Wolf asserted. “It’s built on one-time revenue sources and other gimmicks, and the projections are based on flimsy assumptions and thin expectations. As a result of these failed policies, our children are not receiving the resources they deserve and school districts across Pennsylvania have been forced to raise property taxes.”
“Right now, middle-class families are shouldering the burden while special interests are given endless breaks,” the Democratic nominee finished. “We need to work toward building an economy that works for all Pennsylvanians. It’s time to move Pennsylvania forward.”