GOP Applauds Corbett, Endorses Court Candidates
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Gov. Tom Corbett warned Republican activists Saturday that keeping his promise to balance Pennsylvania’s deficit- threatened state budget without a tax increase will require “drastic’’ measures and cautioned that breaking the vow would likely erase the party’s impressive gains in last year’s election.
Addressing the Republican State Committee for the first time since his Jan. 18 inauguration, Corbett thanked members for their work on campaigns that gave the state GOP its biggest electoral victory since 1994 – reclaiming the governorship and control of both houses in the Legislature, winning a hotly contested U.S. Senate race and picking up five congressional seats.
“It was a very good year to be a Republican running for office,’’ Corbett told the gathering at a downtown hotel.
But, he added, “We can’ lose focus on what brought us here. If we do, rest assured, we’ll be right back where we were two years ago.’’
Corbett, who pledged in his campaign not to raise taxes or fees in spite of a deficit projected at $4 billion or more for the year that starts July 1, did not reveal any details about the plan he is scheduled to present to lawmakers on March 8. But he said substantial spending cuts will be necessary to rein in state spending and debt, calling it essential for future generations of Pennsylvanians.
“We have to make those tremendous changes, drastic changes, in the way we have been doing business,’’ he said. “We can’t continue to spend their future. We can’t continue to use their credit card so we can balance our budget today.’’
After the speech, Corbett told reporters he and his top advisers have been going through budget issues, “line by line by line,’’ and have compiled a first draft, but that many decisions have yet to be made.
“Nothing is in final form,’’ he said. “We’re not close to final form.’’
Corbett said he remains committed to the idea of privatizing Pennsylvania’s state-controlled liquor and wine trade, but that he wants more up-to-date information about the benefits and costs.
He said savings from privatizing some state services could help provide revenue for a transportation trust fund that he has proposed to salt away money for repairs to state highways and bridges. He did not identify any other services that he feels belong in that category, but said he would oppose the privatization of state prisons.
“I would never privatize the custody of people in prisons,’’ he said.
In other activity Saturday, the committee endorsed Victor Stabile, a Harrisburg lawyer and former Cumberland County GOP chairman, for a seat on the Superior Court. He outpolled two Philadelphia judges competing for the endorsement – Paul Panepinto and Paula Patrick.
Anne Covey, a labor lawyer from New Hope, was endorsed for an opening on the Commonwealth Court after a potential challenge from incumbent Judge Johnny Butler failed to materialize.
Party members will nominate candidates for the two openings in the May 17 primary.