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Erie Dems Question Corbett’s Budget Mismanagement

Round Up: Corbett’s Budget Situation’s Deteriorating

Tom Corbett’s budget mismanagement has put Pennsylvania in a $1.4 billion hole. As his election year budget crumbles, Corbett is refusing to offer solutions, and is already threatening to hold the legislature past the June 30th budget deadline despite the fact that he has spent three years touting on-time budgets as one of his greatest achievements. Instead of looking towards common sense, bipartisan solutions to restore the $1 billion Corbett slashed from education, he is refusing to institute a severance tax to protect his cronies in big oil and gas.

Check out the coverage: 
Associated Press: The big problem is this: Weak tax collections have left a shortfall of about $1.2 billion in Corbett’s original budget proposal. Other problems include teetering assumptions in Corbett’s budget that have widened the potential hole to nearly $2 billion. 
Associated Press: Meanwhile, Governor Corbett is keeping a low profile and isn’t saying how he wants the problem solved. He has, however, suggested he’ll hold up a budget until the Republican-controlled Legislature passes acceptable legislation to overhaul the state’s public employee pension systems.  
PA Independent: “And, yeah, Pennsylvania still has a problem.
Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office estimates that the state is facing a $1.4 billion deficit. It’s hardly a surprise, given several months of lagging revenues.”
Associated Press: “Pennsylvania lawmakers have entered what is supposed to be the final two-week push to pass a state budget — with Gov. Tom Corbett’s $29.4 billion spending plan potentially out of balance by nearly $2 billion.”
PoliticsPA: “The [PA Dems] one-minute [video], which splices together Gov. Corbett’s statements and news reports, blames the state’s budget shortfall on the Governor’s opposition to a severance tax on Marcellus Shale gas drillers. It also condemns him for cuts to education funding.”
Morning Call: “The Legislature’s Independent Fiscal Office projected Monday that the state would end the fiscal year $572 million in the red….That hole is going to have to be filled as part of the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, if the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett want to avoid a two-year cumulative deficit of $1.4 billion by June 30, 2015.”
York Dispatch: “Tax revenue is lower than expected as the state still rebounds from recession and, depending who’s asked, there’s a deficit of between $1.3 billion and $1.7 billion. Lawmakers are ‘predicating everything on one-time revenues,’ roughly the same fixes Gov. Tom Corbett proposed in his budget in February, said Grove, a Dover Township Republican.”
Patriot-News: “Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office released its final revenue projections for the current budget season Monday, and they show a two-year income shortfall of more than $1.4 billion. That’s pretty close to what budget-builders for Gov. Tom Corbett and legislative leaders have been predicting all spring, and it means the state budget due on July 1 is likely to be more of a survival kit than an election-year gift basket.”
Patriot-News: ”The IFO is actually a bit more optimistic about the next fiscal year, projecting 3.2 percent growth in state revenues, to $29.4 billion. But, based on current-year tax rates, that will still be about $870 million below the numbers Corbett’s February budget proposal was built on.”

WATCH: Tom Corbett’s Budget Philosophy

Tom Corbett Honors Gas Driller, Donor With Record of Environmental Violations
This week, Tom Corbett presented a prestigious award to one of his top donors, a drilling company with a history of violations, all while he continues to oppose a severance tax that will help restore funding to Pennsylvania schools. 
Tom Corbett gave a “Community Impact Award” to Cabot Energy, but the company has been fined $120,000 for environmental violations. According to campaign finance records, the company and its executives has also donated more than $40,000 to Tom Corbett’s campaigns.
Tom Corbett has a history for standing up for big oil and gas, no matter how egregious the situation.
Last week, Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed 64 charges ranging from fraud and criminal conspiracy against Minuteman, a fracking waste hauling company whose owner contributed $10,000 to Tom Corbett’s campaign. When the Minuteman was first raided, Tom Corbett stood firmly behind them, saying they were good employers. In light of the charges filed, we once again called for Corbett to return the donation, but he has refused thus far. 
While giving awards to top donors with a history of environmental violations and refusing to return donations from an alleged criminal and crony in the big oil and gas industry, Tom Corbett has continually reiterated his opposition to a severance tax. At a speech on Wednesday, he again stated his opposition to a severance tax to fund Pennsylvania schools. 
Corbett Wants To Tax Middle-Class Over Big Oil And Gas
Since Tom Corbett slashed $1 billion dollars from public education in his first budget, communities throughout Pennsylvania have been forced to raise their property taxes. 
In 2011-2012, 62% of school districts were forced to raise their property taxes. The following year, 60% raised property taxes and just last year 62% of school districts were forced to raise their property taxes.
But this year, there is even worse news. The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials are predicting that 77% of school districts will have to raise property taxes next year due to Tom Corbett’s failure to properly fund schools at the state level.
Tom Corbett refuses to institute a severance tax on big oil and gas to fund vital budget priorities like our children’s education. Why? Because big oil and gas have contributed over $3.6 million  to his campaign.
Tom Corbett prioritizes his cronies in big oil and gas that are funding his campaign. As a result, Pennsylvania’s children are not receiving the education they deserve and middle-class families throughout the Commonwealth are forced to pay higher taxes to pick up big oil and gas’ slack.
Corbett Spox Thinks There’s “Nothing Wrong” With Illegal Donation
Yesterday, the Morning Call reported that Mike Barley claimed that  ”there’s nothing wrong" with a nearly one million dollar illegal donation that the RGA made to Tom Corbett’s campaign on behalf of billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson .
But Pennsylvania law does not permit casino owners and executives from making political donations to candidates or committees.
Instead of acknowledging the illegality of the donation, Barley doubled down. The Morning Call reported that, “[Barley] pointed out the PAC has more than $10 million to give, and indicated the RGA and its PAC are making a change on their books. ‘They are correcting it,’ he said, without elaborating.’”
Tom Corbett will have another near million dollar donation simply replaced by a different contribution from a wealthy, out of state funder. Apparently, Tom Corbett thinks an accounting gimmick can just wipe away an illegal donation.
Corbett Scorns Common Sense Solutions In Exchange For Shale Money
This weekend, the Inquirer ran a story highlighting the millions of natural gas money that is pouring into Tom Corbett’s reelection effort. Chris Borick, a Muhlenberg College professor, described Corbett’s position best when he said, “Corbett is inching toward an untenable position where his stance on this issue goes more and more against what the public would like. At the same time, the high support from the shale gas industry leaves him in a difficult position for finding compromise.” 
Earlier this week, the new IFO’s Revenue Trends Report for May 2014 found that General Fund revenues were down 8.2% from the same month last year. Corbett’s $1.4 billion dollar deficit continues to grow, but he is still refusing to institute a severance tax that could help plug the budget hole he created. The revenue raised from a severance tax could be used to restore Corbett’s $1 billion cut to education, which may be why 58% of Pennsylvanians support it.
Tom Corbett is refusing to support a popular, common sense idea for one reason. He has received over $3.6 million in campaign funds from big oil and gas and he knows he will need the continued financial support from the oil and gas industry to have a shot at winning November’s election.
Tom Corbett Thinks He’s Above The Law
Last evening, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that Governor Corbett’s biggest backers, the Christie-chaired Republican Governors Association made an illegal $987,844 contribution to Corbett’s campaign. Today the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the executive director of Common Cause, Barry Kauffman, found the donation, “very troubling.”
This pattern of receiving illegal and tainted money is far from new for Tom Corbett.
In 2010, Corbett received a questionable $1.5 million donation from the Republican Governors Association that “traveled from the D.C.-based parent organization to the RGA Wisconsin PAC, to the RGA Pennsylvania PAC and finally to Corbett’s campaign account.” The transfers of this $1.5 million were all made all in one day in order to skirt Pennsylvania’s campaign finance laws.
Just last week, Corbett refused to return a $10,000 donation from the owner of a fracking waste hauling company who is faced with 64 charges ranging from fraud and criminal conspiracy.
Corbett tries to convince Pennsylvania that he’s cleaned up Harrisburg. But his repeated pattern of ethics failures and of accepting illegal and tainted money proves that he thinks he’s above the law. Corbett’s willing to accept money from any source in an attempt to hide his disastrous record.
Fake Events and Last Second Cancellations: Hide and Seek with Govs. Corbett and Christie

Over the past few days, Gov. Tom Corbett and Gov. Chris Christie have been playing hide and seek with Pennsylvanians - cancelling events at the last minute to avoid protesters and even planning decoy events to give Pennsylvanians the slip.

Last week there were multiple sources that said there would be a Corbett/Christie fundraiser at the Union League, but protests were also reported.

Then, according to WIll Bunch, “NBC 10’s Lu Ann Cahn reports she was told by a Union League employee that “they were notified last week the fundraiser was supposed to be here and then they got a call sometime today saying, ‘No,this was a decoy location' and…we learned from the Corbett campaign it was all very secretive until about a half hour ago that the event has been in fact moved to the Comcast Center.”

Bunch pointed out that, “this is not normal political behavior.” But it wasn’t the first time Corbett tried to pull this kind of stunt. The same thing happened on Friday. 

There were multiple reports of a Corbett and Christie Rally to be held in Market Square at 3 p.m. But it seems like the dozens of protesters may have forced the Corbett team to cancel the rally.

Tom Corbett is so out of touch with Pennsylvanians that he has to schedule decoy fundraisers and cancel events at the last minute to hide from his destructive record. 

Check out the rest of the coverage here:

“As many as 1,000 protesters, many angry about school funding, blocked traffic and waved signs in Center City on Monday afternoon, hoping to disrupt or at least deflect attention from a fund-raising stop by Govs. Corbett and Christie.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/9/14]

“The demonstration started at the Union League at 4 p.m., but protesters marched to the Comcast Center to call on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett to reverse cuts to the education budget. Corbett was attending a fundraiser inside with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. ‘It’s that idea that we’re here to educate, and we can’t do it. Our hands are tied in a lot of places. And when our hands are tied, the kids are losing out,” a teacher said in an interview with CBS 3.’” [CBS Philly, 6/9/14]

“And here’s the thing: Like a lot of Pennsylvanians, I find it hard to see how Corbett can defend his record, slashing corporate taxes and giving his fracking industry campaign donors a free pass in the name of jobs that were never created, while school kids in the city don’t have nurses, librarians or guidance counselors. However, Corbett could still get re-elected with those things on his record. But I can guarantee that he will never, ever win another election in Pennsylvania — not even for dog-catcher (as if they ever elected dog catchers) — without the respect that is earned from standing up to your critics.” [Philadelphia Daily News, 6/9/14]
“Corbett’s inability to visit Philadelphia without sparking street protests could pose a growing problem for the governor if the schools crisis continues to deepen in the lead up to the November election. Corbett, an unpopular Republican widely considered to be the country’s most vulnerable incumbent governor, faces a tough challenge from Democratic challenger Tom Wolf. In January, Corbett canceled a visit to Central High School at the last minute in the face of protests from students and community members. It would have been his first documented visit to a Philadelphia public school.” [Philadelphia CityPaper, 6/9/14]

“Outside the glass tower of the Comcast Center, teachers, parents and education unions protested against Governors Tom Corbett and Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor was raising money for his Pennsylvania counterpart who’s lagging in the polls for reelection. ‘Isn’t that appropriate? While they’re feasting, our schools are starving,’ Fels High School teacher Joe Beech said.” [WPVI, 6/9/14]

“The protesters - teachers, students and members of several activist groups - gathered about 4 p.m. outside the Union League, on Broad Street near Sansom, before marching. During the protest, activists demanded ‘fair funding’ for Philadelphia’s public schools and slammed Corbett for issuing what they called ‘devastating cuts’ to education since he took office.” [Philadelphia Daily News, 6/9/14]

“‘I sat down in the way of Corbett’s cuts because I’m worried about my daughter’s future and all children’s futures in a school system that keeps getting slashed to the bone,’ said Andi Perez, the outgoing Director of Youth United for Change and one of the arrested protesters.  ‘I have spent a career fighting for Philadelphia public school students, and things are as bad as I’ve ever seen under Gov. Corbett’s massive budget cuts.  We need to say enough is enough.’” [NBC 10, 6/9/14]

Who is rubbing elbows with Corbett & Christie tonight?
Tom Corbett and Chris Christie have been tight lipped about their fundraiser together in Philadelphia this evening - and after the reception they received in Pittsburgh last week, we don’t blame them. 
But it is important to take a careful look at who will be attending the fundraiser this evening due to Tom Corbett and Chris Christie’s troubling history of questionable donations and pay to play plagued administrations.
Last week, Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed 64 charges ranging from fraud and criminal conspiracy against Minuteman, a fracking waste hauling company whose owner contributed $10,000 to Tom Corbett’s campaign. We called for Corbett to return the donation, but he refused.
On top of that revelation, a recent report found that Governor Corbett and his wife have received over $28,000 in gifts and  over $18,000 worth were given by businesses regulated by state government. On top of that, those that gave gifts to Tom Corbett also donated over $1.1 million to his campaign. In exchange, Tom Corbett dished out state benefits to the gift givers.
It seems like Tom Corbett could have been taking clues from the chair of the Republican Governor’s Association - Chris Christie.

Last month, it was discovered that the investment firm of Charlie Baker, who donated $10,000 to Christie’s campaign allies, received a $25 million investment from a pension fund controlled by Christie. This latest revelation comes after previous reports of the RGA and New Jersey Governor’s mansion receiving generous donations from Christie’s allies in possible efforts to skirt campaign finance laws.

With these kinds of records, it is certainly worth keeping tabs on those who are rubbing elbows with Tom Corbett and Chris Christie. A dinner guest at this evening’s fundraiser could benefit from a state contract next month.