Campaign ads contradictory on Corbett's education record - abc27 WHTM

Campaign ads contradictory on Corbett's education record

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The four Democrats running for governor are distinctly different people: two men, two women with diverse backgrounds and biographies all promising to beat Tom Corbett if given the opportunity.

But all four have a common theme to their campaigns. They think Pennsylvania spends too little on public education and taxes Marcellus Shale drillers too little.

They've taken the message to the airwaves. Katie McGinty boldly proclaims in her television commercial: "I'll impose a tax on those companies and use every penny to restore the Corbett education cuts."

From Rob McCord's spot: "We need to reverse Corbett's education cuts and fully fund our schools."

Tom Wolf and Allyson Schwartz have levied the same criticism at the incumbent.

So what's up with the latest ad from the Republican governor?

It's narrated by his wife, Susan, and praises her husband's education record.

"Tom and I were both teachers, so education is really important. We know that's the key to success," Susan Corbett says in the ad. "He's increased spending in the Education Department $1.5 billion over what it was. Pennsylvania is at the highest it's ever been for spending in education."

If you're paying attention, you're probably confused. His critics have repeatedly slammed him for slashing funding to schools. He's now touting all the money he's putting into education.


"That's exactly what they'd like everybody to be, is confused," Corbett said Friday in a visit to abc27's Harrisburg studio.

The governor stands by his assertion that more state money than ever before is spent on K-12 education. He says the final year of Governor Ed Rendell saw a billion dollars in federal stimulus money plowed into education that then dried up.

"Everybody knew it was going away," Corbett said.

"We spend over $10 billion from the state to the local school districts, so we have a significant amount of money there."

But Corbett's critics accuse the governor of fuzzy math. They say he includes pension payments in his overall education total even though it doesn't go to classrooms.

The governor doesn't deny it.

"The teachers are going to the classrooms," Corbett said. "And it's going to the teachers' pensions."

Corbett's opponents point out that school districts across the state have raised taxes, cut programs and laid off teachers, or all three in recent years. Why would that be happening, they wonder, if more money was going to the districts? 

Democratic frontrunner Tom Wolf says giving schools the same amount of money as last year is a cut because of inflation.

"You can't take money away from it (schools) indefinitely. We have to recognize if we're going to have a good education system and deliver on the promise of a good education it is going to cost us something," Wolf said.

All four Democrats would find money for schools under the Marcellus couch cushion.

McCord boasts that he'd tax the industry at 10 percent and in his TV ad asks, "Are we going to get our fair share from the fracking industry or are we gonna keep giving away the store?"

The governor bristles at that suggestion and calls the argument disingenuous.

"The ads make it sound like we don't tax this industry," Corbett said. "We tax this industry like we tax every other business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Corbett says gas drillers have paid billions in taxes the past few years and $636 million more in impact fees to local communities. Drilling, he said, has brought tens of thousands of jobs to Pennsylvania.

"This is politics," Corbett said. "They're saying, 'they're (gas drillers) making money, we ought to tax them.' I didn't think that's the way this country worked."

Wolf and his fellow Democratic candidates say that the gas coming out of Pennsylvania belongs to all Pennsylvanians and the entire state should benefit more from its extraction.

Wolf calls it a moral issue.

"I share 20-30 percent of my net profits with my employees because it makes good sense," Wolf said. "Wouldn't it make good sense for the oil or gas companies to share a small bit with the people of Pennsylvania so we can all be partners in this industry?


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