The Corbett Record: Higher Spending, Questionable Mismanagement

The Corbett Record: Higher Spending, Questionable Mismanagement

Corbett tries to tell audiences what they want to hear, but his words don’t make sense and his actions don’t match up
PHILADELPHIA: Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato said today that while Harrisburg Republican Tom Corbett is contradicting himself on the campaign trail – calling for “across the board” cuts one minute, proposing millions of dollars of new spending the next – Corbett’s own record is quite consistent: he has asked for more and more taxpayer money to support his own office.
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            “Pennsylvania is facing a budget crisis and the next Governor needs to understand the problem and know how to make the state live within its means,” said Onorato. “I am the only candidate who has experience balancing budgets without raising property taxes and who has made the tough decisions to cut costs.”
Tom Corbett has asked for more money from the taxpayers every year
            Since taking office, Corbett has requested higher spending for his office each and every year – regardless of the fiscal problems facing Pennsylvania.
            Corbett has asked taxpayers to increase his spending by an average of 7.1% per year since 2005:
–         2005-06: 9.5% proposed spending increase
–         2006-07: 4.5% proposed spending increase
–         2007-08: 5.9% proposed spending increase
–         2008-09: 3.9% proposed spending increase
–         2009-10: 5.6% proposed spending increase
–         2010-11: 13.0% proposed spending increase
On the campaign trail, Corbett has repeatedly called for broad spending cuts. As one newspaper reported: “While voters are telling him they want reduced spending, Corbett said they have to be prepared for the results. ‘Remember that if it affects you. … Everyone is going to have to feel that cut,’ which he said would be ‘across the board,’ from vehicle fleets to reducing Medicaid abuse.” [Harrisburg Patriot-News, 6/11/2010]
            But Corbett does not believe he should have to live by those words.
This year, Corbett vigorously defended his request for more money – even as the state was facing a deficit. 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.” [, 2/8/2010]
In testimony to the House Appropriations Committee, Corbett was even more adamant in his defense of his own budget: “If – if you flat budget us, zero percent increase – we will lose 21 positions across the agency….  If you go to cutting us by one percent, it would be 31. Two percent it would be 40. Three percent it would be 50. Four percent it would be 59. Five percent it would be 69 positions. We would be a shell.” [House Appropriations Committee transcript, 2/2/2010]
In August – after the budget passed – Corbett was asked to take a 1.9% cut in his own discretionary spending, along with other state agencies, to help balance the current year’s budget. He has refused to agree, and recently said: “I am not making any pledge” to do so. [PoliticsPA, 8/27/2010] According to the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Attorney General’s Office is “continuing to review the budget and look for ways to economize.” [9/5/2010]
Tom Corbett wants tens of millions of dollars in new spending
            Corbett has identified tens of millions of other exceptions to his across-the-board-cuts campaign rhetoric.
            Corbett has said that he wants to increase spending for welfare cash assistance grants and supplemental security income, addiction programs, public education, pre-school, the educational improvement tax credit, workforce development, court administration and funding, venture capital investment, agriculture, economic development and infrastructure.
            Corbett told one group: “As governor, I’m sure that working with the Department of Agriculture we can make it more efficient, but we can’t cut it.” [Centre Daily Times, 8/19/2010]
And while Corbett mocked the Department of Community & Economic Development for having “over 300 programs,” he couldn’t identify any that are wasteful – revealing to an audience of Pennsylvania mayors that: “I can’t tell you right now that we are funding programs that aren’t working….” [Pennsylvania League of Mayors, 7/18/2010]
Corbett has also 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. “Asked how many hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost to make his proposed tax cuts, Corbett declined to answer,” according to Capitolwire. [8/30/2010]
Even Corbett’s Republican allies doubt his ability to keep his budget promises. In June, Senate Republican Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said: “I don’t see how he can do it, frankly.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 6/28/2010] And last month, Senate Republican Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty agreed.
Tom Corbett has questionable management record
            Corbett’s campaign website calls for cutting the state vehicle fleet by 10% (on one part of the site) and by 20% (on another part of the site). But in his own office, Corbett has increased the size of the taxpayer-funded vehicle fleet by 5%.
            And that may be the least of Corbett’s management problems. Corbett has been sued by a current employee and a former employee in a lawsuit that says he “squelched evidence of mismanagement in the state Attorney General’s Office for political reasons.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/21/2010]
As the Inquirer reported, the former employee says “private collection agencies were improperly paid large commissions for work that the attorney general’s in-house staff had done to recover taxes and other money owed to the state. Also, he says, some cases were settled for a small fraction of the money that the state could, and should, have been able to collect. His suit says those actions amounted to gross mismanagement, perhaps even fraud.”
Dan Onorato has a record of fiscal discipline
            Corbett was responsible for balancing a budget once in his life, and he used the opportunity to cast the deciding vote in favor of a 20% property tax hike. Dan Onorato has taken a different approach: while balancing the budget for Pennsylvania’s second-largest county for six years in a row, Onorato has never increased property taxes.
            Instead, the Allegheny County Executive has made government live within its means. Under Onorato, the county’s General Fund budget has gone up an average of just 1.7% per year – which is less than the rate of inflation. The budget for Onorato’s own office has not increased at all since 2004.
            To balance the budget, Onorato has made government more efficient. He has reduced the size of government to save taxpayers $31 million per year, and he cut the number of take-home cars in county agencies under his control by 10%.
“Tom Corbett claims he’ll cut the state budget, but he’s asked for more money every year, he won’t agree to cut his discretionary spending by even a little, he’s proposed tens of millions of dollars in new spending and he’s been accused of ‘gross mismanagement’ of his own office,” said Onorato Communications Director Brian Herman. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that Tom Corbett doesn’t even understand what he’s saying and why it’s important.”
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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