In this election season, it’s easy to lose sight of one politician who isn’t seeking re-election, at least yet: our Governor, Tom Corbett. But soon enough the focus will be back on the man some are beginning to call “One-term Tommy” and the swath of destruction he’s caused in Pennsylvania. Check out the list below and keep it in mind –the next gubernatorial election is in 2014.
1. Jobs, jobs, jobs.
In August, Pennsylvania’s jobless rate rose to the national average for the first time in more than 4 year. Since 2010, PA has dropped to 39th from 12th in job growth. Just since May 2011, we have lost 5,400 public-sector jobs. These are teachers, first responders, and other public servants—people who live in our state, spend their money in our state, and invest in our communities. Corbett’s story has always been that the private sector—especially Marcellus Shale-related job growth—more than makes up for the public sector jobs he’s slashing. But In August, mining and logging jobs, which includes gas drilling, were down; as well as construction jobs and trade, transportation and utilities, which includes retail and wholesale stores. The governor’s enormous public sector cuts have, as predicted, dragged down the entire state, and Marcellus hasn’t been able to stop that.
2. Taxpayer-funded billion-dollar giveaways to huge corporations.
$1.7 billion over the next 25 years to Shell Oil (the world’s second largest corporation in revenue) to locate a gas cracker plant in Beaver County—a place it almost certainly was going to build the plant anyway. Estimates say there will be 70 jobs in the plant, and perhaps as many as 20,000 jobs created. But it will cost the state a lot to build and maintain the infrastructure to service the plant and its employees, and with all the tax breaks Shell is getting, who will pay for it? $1.7 billion is a lot to pony up for something that may be a net loss—as well as bad for the environment.
3. Two words: Second Mile.
Gov. Corbett was the state’s District Attorney during the time charges were being considered against convicted serial child rapist, Jerry Sandusky. His understaffed, 3-year investigation didn’t manage to make an arrest until Corbett had won the Governor’s seat. Critics have asked pointed questions about the delay—for example, could it possibly be that Corbett was slowing the investigation so that he wasn’t the one who brought down JoePa and Penn State? Also, it seems odd that Corbett joined the Board of Trustees of Penn State as the investigation was ongoing…and that he over saw a $3 million taxpayer-funded grant to Sandusky’s Second Mile charity during the same time. How many boys did Sandusky molest during those 3 years Corbett dragged his feet? How many were molested with the help of that $3 million of our money? We’ll probably never know.
4. Short-term thinking.
Corbett talks about working for the future of our state, but his actions say “fire sale” rather than “investment in the future.” He is adamant about wanting to privatize the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, a move that would gain the state a one-time big cash payment, but would force it to forego the revenue the PCLB reliably generates as a state asset—while sacrificing thousands of family-supporting jobs. Great trade! He is in favor of leasing even more of our state forest land to drilling operations, while push¬ing the Delaware River Basin Com¬mis¬sion to lift the mora¬to¬rium there and allow drilling. More than 700,000 acres of for¬est land have already been leased for drilling—20% for Marcellus Shale. One of our best assets—Pennsylvania’s extensive forests and the tourism and recreational opportunities they provide—are being taken away from future generations so that multinational corporations can make a quick buck. Hey, it’s just trees, right?
Charles McCollester, retired professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said it best in an op-ed that appeared in the Post-Gazette. “[Corbett’s] efforts to starve and privatize public education and collapse public transportation while shielding gas interests from reasonable taxation and adequate health, safety and zoning regulation are stunningly bold. Once the teacher and transit unions are broken, can construction unions and state workers be far behind?” Check the record.
6. Voter ID law.
Corbett’s administration pushed for the most restrictive Voter ID law in the nation, which stands to prevent hundreds of thousands of eligible Pennsylvania voters from exercising their right to vote. Conveniently for Corbett, many of those disenfranchised voters are likely Democrats, a fact that House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) alluded to when he said that the new Voter ID law would allow Republican nominee Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania. Subtle. A new ruling on the law is expected October 2.
7. Just “close your eyes.”
Although mercifully it was tabled and never came to a vote, Pennsylvania’s proposed “Women’s Right to Know Act,” or HB 1077, was one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills proposed in the wave of such legislation introduced over the last 2 years in the U.S. It required transvaginal ultrasounds before a woman could obtain a legal abortion, directed the technicians and doctors involved to push the women to view the ultrasound, as well as force her to take home the test results, and required a long waiting period after having the ultrasound and before obtaining an abortion. Corbett’s reaction to criticism of the bill? That women could just “close their eyes” if they didn’t want to look at their state-mandated, invasively obtained ultrasound results.
8. Seems to hate kids, especially poor ones.
Although his most recent budget restored some of his earlier $1 billion in cuts to education, Corbett has slashed funding to schools—early education, grade schools, high schools, and higher education—while supporting voucher programs that further weaken and defund public education. He has also targeted human services across the state, which either directly or indirectly benefit the children of less affluent families. We already know about his support of Sandusky’s Second Mile charity and his failure to stop a serial child rapist who preyed on less fortunate boys, but his latest act may be an even greater failure—he has refused to halt the fast-approaching execution of Terrence Williams, an African-American man who was convicted of the murder of 2 men in the 1980s, when he was a teenager. Williams has said both men sexually molested him, but this evidence was not presented at his trial—reason enough to reconsider the verdict, one would think. Williams is scheduled to die October 3. He will be the first person executed in the state of Pennsylvania since 1999. What a legacy, Gov. Corbett.
Update: On Sept. 28, a Philadelphia judge stayed Williams’ execution.