WILKES-BARRE — One day after Governor Tom Corbett released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, he hit the road to promote his spending plan.
The governor stopped at the Osterhout Library in Wilkes-Barre, followed by a visit to our Wyoming Valley Newsroom, and that’s where he talked to Newswatch 16 about his spending plan and other issues facing Pennsylvania.
The governor’s budget proposal touches on three major items. First is finding more funding for road and bridge repairs, through increased taxes on gasoline wholesalers.
Reporter: “Is there any inconsistency you see in leveling this tax on gas wholesalers and no tax on the natural gas industry?” Governor Corbett: “Not at all. The natural gas industry has been paying an impact fee, and it’s totally false when you say no tax on the natural gas industry.”
Corbett pointed out, since 2007, the natural gas industry has paid more than $1 billion in taxes, over and above the impact fee.
He also believes that a tax on gas wholesalers won’t have a significant impact on prices for consumers at the pump.
Secondly, the governor is counting on the sale of the state’s liquor system to help provide more money for education. Privatization is something other republican governors have tried before.
Corbett believes 2013 will be different.
“The people want choice, the people want convenience. People in Pennsylvania want it, 70% want it. Its time has come really,” said Governor Corbett.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, the governor believes reforming Pennsylvania’s pension system is critical, and if the legislature fails to act, lawmakers will have some major budgetary problems on their hands.
“If they do not choose to do anything with pensions, then the legislature is going to have to find a way to make up that money, either by cutting programs, or adding revenue, and I’m not going with a tax increase, so I don’t know where they’re going to add revenue,” said Governor Corbett.
The governor notes that Pennsylvania has more people receiving municipal pensions than the rest of the country combined, at a yearly price tag that will reach $4.3 billion by 2017 if nothing is done.
One thing the governor did not have much to say about, the special deputy attorney general who’s been appointed to look into his handling of the Jerry Sandusky investigation when Corbett was attorney general.
The governor promises, that if the new investigator wants to talk to him, and his motive is not political, Corbett will be happy to cooperate.