Governor Tom Corbett and Senate Pro Temp Joe Scarnati are on the same Republican team. But they're not on the same page. That became clear after a Tuesday morning Scarnati press conference where the Senate leader threw cold water on many Corbett proposals or expected proposals.
Corbett will unveil his plan to privatize liquor stores on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Scarnati, once again, said that's not a priority for him, and he's not sure it's a good idea. Scarnati would rather modernize the current state store system than privatize it.
"In my rural area, I continue to say, 'Who wants to come and have a license in Brockway, Pa. or Reynoldsville, at a store that loses money? Who's gonna buy that license?'"
Less than a week before Corbett's February 5 budget address, Scarnati also signaled that his caucus had enough of cuts to schools and social services.
"We initially cut into the fat, then cut through the muscle, and we are in bone. For a lot of these programs, any further cuts will have significant impacts to real people."
Scarnati also questions letting Camelot manage the Pennsylvania Lottery, which would expand gaming to the internet and keno games in bars and restaurants. He says lawmakers and casinos have legitimate gripes with how the deal's going down.
"We think we have some legislative authority here," Scarnati said. "And we have a commitment to the gaming industry that's invested millions of dollars here."
It's rumored that Corbett wants to link transportation funding to liquor store privatization. Scarnati hates that idea and says it will only slow down much-needed and much delayed fixes to roads and bridges.
"I think that is showing bad faith. Quite frankly, I think people are sick of Washington style politics, and I'm not gonna play the game. I want transportation done. It should rise and fall on its own merits."
Scarnati also doubts whether the governor, as expected, can reduce future pension benefits for current state workers and public school teachers. He says that will merely end in lawsuits that will cost the state dearly.
In concluding, Scarnati blasted the Corbett administration for failing to communicate its priorities with lawmakers and for keeping the legislature out of the loop.
"Any of us legislators that pick up one of your articles and read something that's news, that's a little disturbing to me. We really don't need to have personalities or communications people causing problems. We need to have good, solid working together."