Harrisburg – February 20, 2014 – Senate and House Democrats said today that Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget speech and follow up opinion pieces and interviews have painted a picture of Pennsylvania that is blurry, inaccurate and badly in need of correction.
Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia) Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and House Democratic Policy Chair Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) were joined by other Senate and House Democrats to raise questions about assertions made by the governor and to unveil a new fact-check website.
“The governor’s claim that ‘Pennsylvania has turned a corner’ and is ‘now ready to hit full economic stride’ is a distortion that is in need of correction,” Costa said. “Under this governor, Pennsylvania has not turned the corner on job creation, education, health care or budget management. We just keep going down a one-way street the wrong way.
“I am concerned about the view from the governor’s office because it is not the same as what most Pennsylvania families are seeing.”
Given the governor’s slanted view of the problems that face Pennsylvania, Democrats said that it was important that citizens can access objective information. That’s why they have produced a new website where the governor’s claims can be reviewed. The website can be found at www.checkthefactsgovcorbett.com.
“The governor has made job, deficit, health-care and education claims that are distorted,” Hughes said. “The citizens of Pennsylvania need an honest appraisal of the problems that we face and a roadmap that takes us in a new direction.”[hdvideo id=142 ]
“In his employment claims, Governor Corbett fails to mention the 20,000 education jobs lost, the health care jobs that would be created under Medicaid expansion, and that our college grads are fleeing PA for jobs created in our neighboring states all while our unemployment rate is consistently above the national rate.” Sturla said. “He continues to throw money at defending the Tea Party backed policies he’s championed.”
Specifically the Democrats questioned the governor’s assertion that 150,000 private-sector jobs were created. They said that he fails to acknowledge that Pennsylvania has a 180,000 jobs deficit relative to federal economic growth and we’ve moved from seventh to 48th in job creation since Corbett took office.
The Senate Democrats also disputed the governor’s claim that he has invested in education.
“Since the governor took office, he cut $1 billion from education, failed to increase the basic subsidy, treated less affluent districts poorly and ended a long-term funding equity plan that would have rectified funding disparities,” Costa said. “The governor’s new-found election year desire to invest in education cannot overcome the massive problems he caused for schools and taxpayers.”
Hughes said that Corbett has also failed to fully explain his unconscionable decision to by-pass Medicaid expansion and instead is rely on a problematic private insurance-based health care proposal.
The West Philadelphia lawmaker said that the governor’s failure to expand Medicaid “costs $400 million, prevents 500,000 Pennsylvanians from accessing health care and keeps 35,000 from job opportunities.”
Hughes also questioned the governor’s budget balancing saying that “the governor used one-time gimmicks, an inflated growth rate and policy tricks that add billions to the unfunded pension liability to make the $1.2 billion deficit disappear.”
Costa said that many states are examining ways of investing or returning budget surpluses this year and are still not dealing with fiscal despair.
“For the fourth year in a row, under this governor, we’ve had to struggle with revenues because we have not created an environment that is conducive to economic development and job creation,” Costa said. “Many of our surrounding states have invested wisely, grown their economies and regained their fiscal health, while we have been stuck in reverse and going the wrong direction.”
The Democrats said that the narrative that the governor has been pitching across the state since his budget address is an election-year ploy to cover a four-year record of failed economic, job, health and budget initiatives.