Corbett’s Broken Promises Cost Taxpayers
2/28/2014
It is budget season at the Capitol. On Feb. 4, 2014, the governor delivered his budget address to the Pennsylvania Legislature. Typically before the governor speaks before the joint session of the Legislature, we are given copies of his speech and budget documents.

During his presentation he stated that, “we have not raised taxes in three years.” I was shocked that Tom Corbett had the audacity to make such a blatantly false statement. I spent most of last year engaged in a legislative battle with him and his special interest allies who wanted to increase the tax we pay per every gallon of gasoline.

We were successful in stopping the gas tax in June of last year. Our efforts saved taxpayers millions of dollars in taxes at the pump throughout the second half of 2013.

During the summer, through a corrupt and purely political action of the Corbett administration, they increased weight restrictions on 1,000 bridges to put the squeeze on legislators for a gas tax increase in the fall. An excerpt from a media interview with Barry Schoch, Corbett’s Secretary of Transportation, reads, “ Schoch said restrictions are necessary because the Legislature did not approve a bill to boost transportation revenue before recessing on June 30. The bridges are not unsafe, he said.”

Not only did his new politically-driven weight restrictions drive up the cost for businesses that had to reroute their vehicles, but it also put the safety of Pennsylvanians at risk due to restrictions on certain emergency service vehicles.

New Jersey made national news with Bridge Gate regarding lane restrictions on one very busy bridge. Pennsylvania has our own bridge gate involving one thousand bridges. The Corbett administration stopped certain vehicles from crossing one thousand bridges, just to pressure legislators into passing the Corbett gas tax increase.

In November, we continued the debate and after voting the issue four different times, the Corbett gas tax passed and it was signed into law by the governor on November 25, 2013. Less than three months later, Tom Corbett claimed, “we have not raised taxes in three years.”

Also in his budget address, the governor claimed that “Education is the largest single item in my budget.” Wrong again, Tom Corbett!

In the Budget in Brief booklet that was distributed by the governor’s administration on the same day as his budget address, I confirmed that the Department of Welfare is the largest single item in this Republican governor’s budget. He is proposing to spend $11.44 billion on welfare and $11.18 billion on education.

Corbett wants to increase welfare spending this year by $428.9 million. Just his increase in welfare spending alone is greater than the entire cost of the legislative branch of our state government.

This year, the governor also proposes to increase overall spending by 3.3 percent, which is more than twice the 2013 rate of inflation!

Currently, the House Appropriations Committee is holding budget hearings. I have participated in the hearings for the state and school retirement systems, the Office of Open Records, the Department of General Services, and the Department of State. I was invited to attend those hearings as Chairman of the House State Government Committee because my committee has oversight for the law related to these entities.

Between now and June, when the budget is due, lobbyists and individuals will work the halls of the Capitol asking for their special interest budget requests. The majority will want to stick their hands deeper into the taxpayers’ pockets.

I commit to you that I will continue the fight to protect taxpayers!