Shifting Positions, Scant Record Undermine Tom Corbett’s Tough Talk

As the campaign goes on, Harrisburg Republican’s budget credibility is further questioned

PITTSBURGH: With less than 70 days until the General Election, a portrait is emerging of Harrisburg Republican Tom Corbett as a candidate who says what the audience in front of him wants to hear, but whose experience and ability to deliver do not match his rhetoric.

Experienced Republican leaders are increasingly questioning Corbett’s budget promises. As Corbett ally Senate Republican Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said: “I don’t see how he can do it, frankly.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 6/28/2010] This week, Republican State Senator John Rafferty made similar comments.


  • Corbett told reporters in January that raising taxes should be “a last resort” but that “you can’t rule anything in or out.” [Capitolwire, 1/9/2010] The next month, Corbett signed a strict no-tax pledge, which he has bragged about ever since.
  • Then, in March, KDKA-TV political analyst Jon Delano asked Corbett if the pledge prohibited him from raising fees. Corbett answered: “That’s right.” [3/8/2010] But now Corbett’s spokesman is telling reporters that “fees are not included in that.” [Capitolwire, 8/25/2010]
  • Corbett has even called for a long list of tax cuts, from business taxes to the inheritance tax, without specifying how he would pay for them when the state is facing a multi-billion-dollar deficit.
  • Corbett’s own fiscal experience is extremely limited, consisting of a single budget vote in 1988 as a Shaler Township Commissioner. The one time he had the responsibility of enacting a budget, Corbett cast the deciding vote in favor a 20% property tax hike instead of cutting spending.
  • And while Corbett has called for “across-the-board” budget cuts [Harrisburg Patriot-News, 6/11/2010] and said as recently as last weekend on the campaign trail that “We are going to have to cut and reduce our spending,” [Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, 8/22/2010] he has been publicly silent about whether he will agree to a 1.9% cut in discretionary spending to his own budget that Gov. Rendell has requested of all independent agencies in order to address the state’s current budget mess.

So it should come as no surprise that as Attorney General, Corbett has asked for more money for his own office every single year, and on the campaign trail he has proposed tens of millions of dollars in new spending for a range of state programs.

“The fact that Corbett constantly changes his positions lets us know a lot about him and his qualifications,” said Onorato Communications Director Brian Herman. “Our state faces major challenges – from a fiscal crisis to a disillusioned citizenry – and voters can’t afford to take the risk on a candidate who doesn’t have experience and doesn’t seem to understand what his policies are.”

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato has balanced six consecutive budgets without ever raising property taxes. Running Pennsylvania’s second-largest county, he reformed government, cut waste and patronage, and insisted on efficiency.

Under Onorato’s leadership, Allegheny County has withstood the national recession far better than much of the country, and its unemployment rate is significantly lower than both the nation’s and the state’s.

“It’s easy for a candidate to make a promise on the campaign trail, but voters need to take a look at our records,” said Onorato. “I have the experience to make the state live within its means and to grow our economy.”

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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