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AdWatch: Corbett takes on jobs, taxes in radio ad

February 15, 2014
Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — TITLE: "Difference."

LENGTH: 60 seconds.

AIRING: Radio stations in Pennsylvania.

TRANSCRIPT: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett: "When I ran for governor, I promised you I was going to change Harrisburg, and boy, have we. Harrisburg's job-crushing $4.2 billion deficit is now gone. The ridiculous number of state cars dramatically reduced. That alone saved taxpayers $43 million. And I've kept my promise not to raise your income taxes even 1 cent and to cut taxes on small businesses. That's resulted in Pennsylvania today having 140,000 more private sector jobs than the day I took office. Best of all, by getting Harrisburg's financial house in order, we're now able to invest more on basic education than any other time in Pennsylvania's history. And we've dramatically increased spending on early childhood development programs and another $40 million to help our special-needs families. All these changes haven't necessarily made me popular in Harrisburg. But you didn't send me there to make friends. You sent me there to make a difference."

ANALYSIS: Corbett's first radio commercial of the year ahead of his campaign for another term as Pennsylvania governor is an effort to shore up his credibility. Democrats accuse him of balancing budgets on the backs of schools, universities, the poor, vulnerable and disabled. Conservatives say he violated his no-new-taxes pledge by signing a $2.3 billion transportation funding bill that increases fuel taxes and motorist fees and fines. The ad began airing statewide Tuesday, Corbett's campaign said.

The governor isn't anticipating a stiff primary challenge, but he's battling lackluster polling numbers.

Corbett's claims in the ad are complicated.

On jobs, his campaign offers no proof that his tax policies led to growth in private sector jobs. It cites a drop in the unemployment rate from 8 percent in January 2011, when he took office, to 6.9 percent in December 2013. But economists say that the drop in Pennsylvania's unemployment more or less reflects national economic trends and that governors tend to have little or no effect on short-term employment trends. In any case, every state saw unemployment decline over that period, regardless of tax policy.

On education, Corbett is quibbling whether to count temporary federal recession aid to states as part of Pennsylvania's support for public schools before he became governor. Counting $1 billion in federal recession aid for education, state support for public schools remains lower than it was three years ago; it is higher if the federal dollars aren't counted. Corbett did not replace the disappearing federal money for schools in his first budget, which is estimated to have directed more than $1 billion into business tax cuts and reserves that year. The disappearing federal money was counted as part of the $4.2 billion deficit Corbett identified in the budget he inherited.

On taxes, Corbett's statement that he didn't raise the income tax is true, but it omits the important fact that he touted a broad no-new-taxes-or-fees pledge as a candidate in 2010. In a TV ad released in August 2010, he said, "When I announced my pledge that, as governor, I will oppose all new tax increases, the response from the politicians was quite predictable." During a debate later in the campaign, he expanded his pledge to include fees. He signed legislation in November to increase state fuel taxes and motorist fees.

 
 

 

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