Many of the problems Pennsylvania faces going into 2013 haven't changed much since Tom Corbett became governor in 2011.
Corbett dealt with some of them the best he could within the confines of fiscal conservativism and the basic philosophy that no matter what the problem, private enterprise can fix it better than government.
For some things that may be true, but the first couple years of the Corbett administration seemed driven by the postulate that for any question there are two viable answers: 1. Privatize it. 2. Harrisburg knows better than local governments.
The idea behind the first is that especially difficult problems like education are a monkey on the back of government, and let's just give someone else the money and let them handle it. The idea behind the second is that local governments should not get in the way of state agendas.
The jury is still out on how much havoc the governor's cuts to public education have caused in a mere 18 months. Suffice it to say that school boards have had to reduce staffing, curriculum and student services across the board while turning to the local property tax (limited though it may be by statute) to take up some of the slack.
Nevertheless, school districts, with the exception of one or two, have survived the challenge.
However, the exercise has taken its toll on the governor's political clout, as evidenced by the election of a Democratic slate for U.S. Senate, auditor general and attorney general. Some of the Republican margin in the state Senate was shaved as well.
We aren't pointing out these things to chastise Corbett, merely to say that between now and his re-election campaign he will be required to reach across the aisle more than in the past. And, that means compromise will be more important if he is to achieve many of his goals, some of which we believe have real merit. First among those is reform of the state pension system, which portends to do as much or more damage to the state's fiscal health as anything else on Corbett's plate.