Gubernatorial candidate Wolf visits business incubator in East Liberty
As Gov. Tom Corbett continued to withhold his signature from a $29.1 billion state budget delivered to his desk without his top policy priorities, his Democratic gubernatorial opponent chatted with young business owners while touring a spacious start-up incubator in East Liberty on Monday.
York County businessman Tom Wolf visited 3D-printing company PieceMaker Technologies and other businesses at AlphaLab Gear, a warehouse-sized workspace for hardware and robotics start-ups.
After discussing the potential of Pennsylvania's innovation economy, Wolf wouldn't say whether he would veto the spending plan if he was in Corbett's place.
Wolf said he didn't want to “insert himself into the process,” but chalked up the situation to a leadership problem.
“If I exercised the leadership I think the governor is supposed to exercise right from the start, I would not be in a position of having to accept or reject, to do either one, with this kind of a budget,” Wolf said.
Corbett withheld his signature from a state budget passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly on June 30. Lawmakers did not pass a pension reform plan championed by Corbett, which would have adjusted retirement benefits for future state employees.
Pension costs, the Corbett administration says, crowd out other spending on state programs, costing as much as 60 cents of every new dollar of general fund revenues.
Wolf criticized the spending plan as one with “smoke and mirrors” and “one-time fixes.” Lawmakers closed a budget gap of more than $1 billion in part by transferring money. The budget does not raise taxes. Wolf has called for a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling.
Chris Pack, communications director for Corbett's campaign, credited Pennsylvania's 5.6 percent unemployment rate, the lowest since September 2008, to Corbett's leadership. And he said Republicans in the statehouse have differing priorities, in part based on geographic differences.
“I think a lean budget is something Tom Wolf has no familiarity with,” Pack said. “Wolf's solution to the budget shortfall is to hike taxes, and Tom Wolf has never seen a tax increase he doesn't like.”
Corbett's options on the budget include signing the bill, allowing it to become law without his signature by Friday, vetoing certain line items, or vetoing the entire bill.
Melissa Daniels is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.