Live from Desales: Tom Corbett Speaks to the Lehigh Valley
We're live from DeSales, bringing you Corbett's speech as it happens.
If less is more, Gov. Tom Corbett wants to have the most.
In his speech Thursday at DeSales University, hosted by the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Corbett reiterated his positions on fracking, education and health care. Less taxes. Less spending. Less government bureaucracy.
"In six weeks of taking office, we had to plan how to fix [the budget]," said Corbett in his first appearance in the Lehigh Valley as governor. "People take more time planning their weddings and vacations than that."
What Corbett's administration found was a $4.2 billion budget deficit, a fact Corbett blames on the prior administration. "We spent more in 2008 and 2009 than we had revenue coming in," he said. "[The prior administration] said 'Yes yes yes,' and that's why we're where we are."
The governor also talked about what he wants to see more of -- namely jobs for Pennsylvanians. "The Lehigh Valley is a prime example of competition, because you are competing with New Jersey," said Corbett. "Ocean Spray isn't moving far, but they're moving. We can make ourselves competitive so we can take the businesses away from Gov. Christie."
Patch had live updates from the event, and the complete text is below.
11:56- Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce members are finishing up their meal.
12:01-Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce President Anthony Iannelli gives opening remarks. "These are not easy times to govern anything ... "
12:06-David Jaindl introduces Gov. Tom Corbett, "the governor, a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania ..."
12:07-Corbett takes the stage, standing ovation.
12:08- "Children asked when I was visiting schools, 'what's hardest about your job?' I said, 'Saying no.'" I don't like saying no, but we're in very hard times."
12:10- "We had six weeks to put together a budget. We had to plan on how to fix something. People spend much more time planning a wedding, planning a vacation. But we had to put together a $27.3 billion budget. We found we had a $4.2 billion hole in the budget."
12:13- "I’m looking for the printing machine that Washington has ... There is a thousand-dollar bill but Donald Trump isn't on it."
12:15- "Interest groups say, 'We want you to cut spending, just don’t do it to me.'"
12:17- "We can't spend our way out of the debt that we are in. People ask...how did we get here? [Large slide on projector shows spending-to-revenue ratio for past decade] In 2008 and 2009 we spent more money that we had revenue coming in."
12:20- "We’ve been blessed with an uptick in revenue that’s higher than projections. I don’t see it as a surplus at all. Just because we have more money than we thought coming in, doesn’t mean [there is a surplus]."
MARCELLUS SHALE INDUSTRY AND TAXES
"David [Jaindl], you raise turkeys, you're doing really well, should we tax you? Shale does pay corporate sales tax, PIT, income tax, but it’s creating jobs in PA in areas that have been economically depressed for decades in a way that the LV hasn’t seen in decades.
"The average job in the [shale] industry is about $67,000. That’s a pretty good income. New businesses are growing because of the industry in the area."
12:25- "You people in the Lehigh Valley area a prime example of competition, because you are competing with New Jersey. Ocean Spray isn't moving far, but they're moving."
12:27- "We can make ourselves competitive so we can take the businesses away from Gov. Christie, and media, you can pass that along."
12:28- "When you talk to the school districts, tell them we have not cut the BEF [Basic Education Funding]. [shows chart] Take [this chart] home and show it to everybody. In 2008-09 state revenues went down. If you want to talk about revenue cuts of state funding, look there, but it was replaced by federal funding."
12:30- "Letters were sent out to school districts ... 'don't count on this [federal] money forever'"
12:30- "Northern Lehigh School District planned to not have this money [applause for the superintendent]. They knew that the federal stimulus money wouldn't be around. They used it for one-time investments. This year, when Northern Lehigh enacted their budget there was no tax increase, no layoffs, and no cutbacks."
12:30 - "We're going to work very hard and get our financial house back in order[applause]."
12:31- Q&A: Pete Terry, Benchmark Engineering Services - haven't talked about infrastructure. Bridge and road crisis. Share you position?
- Corbett-Go back to the campaign, look for alternatives for funding projects. I started a transportation funding work group to come up and tell us what the problems were. We've had one meeting already. We want the work group to give us some solutions without a tax increase. Like Florida, a partnership with the private sector to add lanes to existing highways that could be tolled maybe just during rush hours. Waiting for group to come back with recommendations.
12:37- John Hayes, First Financial Corporation-Environmental impacts because of Marcellus Shale. We may have an impact five, 10, 20 years down the road. Is consideration being given to a severance fee or levy solely to cover the potential environmental impacts?
- We've talked about an impact fee. Can't be a tax, but could be a fee. We have to define what an impact is. If we're looking at the negative side...have you been up in the area?...I was flying over seeing from the air all the drills and pads in the area. I wish the media will go up and see what the industry is, the good and the bad. The impact can be the schools, the social service network, all good. There's a broad impact, and also one on the environment. The water...so I created the Marcellus Commission (could have been created by Rendell) in 90-120 days and come with recommendations and environmental regulations and how we pay for the impact and how to address. But I will not let the company intentionally pollute the environment. Have there been accidents? Yes, there already have been. But accidents happen, they happen in your businesses, too.
Susan Sartoretto, Abington Health Center-Passion is for health care. You've talked about looking at repealing the federal health care reform laws. Now that you are governor, do you think we should follow the Health Care Reform law, or do you think it will be repealed?
- I believe it should be repealed. I believe that the U.S. government does not have the right to tell an individual what to buy (applause). Tort reform. There's not one sentence about tort reform. To the senators in attendance, I'm waiting for the tort reform bill to get to my desk. The woman I nominated to be attorney general came out of committee 50-0. There will be an election in 2012, but at the same time if the Supreme Court says I'm wrong and the federal government is right, we are preparing to go forward. But we're creating whole layers of bureaucracy moving forward. We need to do this at the state level. Most people in the U.S. don't understand just how rural PA is. Rural health care is very different.