More on my sit-down with Gov. Corbett
As I mentioned yesterday, I had a chance to join some colleagues for a sit-down interview with Gov. Tom Corbett.
If you haven’t been paying attention, he’s been under fire recently. A lot of people – including some Republicans – are unhappy with him. They don’t like his budgets, and more importantly, they’re not sure he’s handling the PR aspects of the job all that well. Basically, they're trying to figure out why he's having so much trouble pushing his agenda when his own party controls both the House and Senate.
So I was very interested to get some personal interaction with the governor, since everyone seems to be saying that his aloof nature is part of the problem.
I have to admit I was surprised. He was warm, congenial, and seemingly very interested in meeting with a bunch of editors who have been sniping at him now for the last two years.
Of course, he didn’t exactly answer any questions. He expounded at length on the things he wanted to say.
But he never blinked in his defense of his budget, his belief that the state must start living within its means, and his pledge not to raise taxes.
He said that while the economy in the state is starting to show signs of turning around, he issued a dire warning about the elephant in the room that no one is talking about. That would be the crisis involving the public employees pensions in the state.
Corbett referred to the pension mess as “the tapeworm in the budget.”
He pointed out that the state’s pension obligation, which this year stands at $1.3 billion, will increase to $1.6 billion next year. That’s chump change compared to what is coming. By 2016-17 that figure mushrooms to $4.3 billion. That just might form a mushroom cloud over Harrisburg and every school district in the state.
Corbett took the opportunity to suggest to a bunch of editors that we start writing stories about the pension crisis.
When we pointed out that we have editorialized on it often, he took the opportunity to turn the pen on us.
“You and I read editorials,” he quipped. “No one else does.”
For another look at the governor, in particular his belief on how taxes affect business, check out this piece from my colleague Evan Brandt.