Pennsylvania's Corbett Expands Conservative War on the Middle Class
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Swinging a sledge hammer, Pennsylvania’s first-term Republican Governor Tom Corbett, smashed into educational spending and state worker jobs during his first-ever budget address, following in the footsteps of his conservative cost-cutting confederates across the nation.
While Corbett proposes slashing over a billion dollars in fundis for pre-K through college, he spares the Keystone State’s burgeoning billion-dollar Marcellus Shale natural gas industry from his call for ‘shared sacrifice’ to close a $4-billion gap in the state’s budget.
Corbett refuses to do what over a dozen other oil and gas-producing states do and impose an extraction tax on the natural gas industry--the same industry that low and behold last year lavished him with hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to his gubernatorial campaign.
Such a tax could immediately provide Pennsylvania with $200-million annually, enough to cover the $48.3-million in budget cuts Corbett proposes for two state environmental protection agencies charged with overseeing the expanding Marcellus Shale industry, which is already under scrutiny for polluting drinking water wells and waterways.
Corbett’s slashing of over a billion dollars in funding education to close the state’s budget gap continues an onslaught on the middle-class consistent in line with Corbett’s GOP gubernatorial colleagues in the adjacent states of Ohio and New Jersey and further west in Wisconsin.
Pennsylvania’s Corbett, like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, raised the salaries of his top staff members just weeks before announcing his proposals calling for eliminating 1,550 state worker jobs and declaring no pay increases for ordinary state workers.
Corbett, like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, pushes cuts in basic education funding plus reductions in public school teacher salaries while raising Pennsylvania’s nearly two-billion-dollar prison system budget by 11 percent--this despite consistent studies showing correlations between lack of education and criminal conduct.
Corbett, like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, backs tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals – revenue that could mitigate the need to balance budgets solely on the backs of public sector workers and the poor.
Corporations in Pennsylvania provide roughly ten percent of the state government revenue stream, which is much lower than the 38.7 percent derived from personal income taxes and 31 percent derived from sales and use taxes.
While Corbett skips in lockstep with other conservative governors, there is a difference between Pennsylvania and the naked ‘Banana Republic’ antics being employed in Ohio and Wisconsin against public sector workers...
For the rest of this article by LINN WASHINGTON, JR. in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent online alternative newspaper, please go to: ThisCantBeHappening!