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Corbett rips Wolf tax proposals during Hempfield campaign stop

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Mona Pappafava-Ray, president and CEO of General Carbide Corporation in Hempfield Township, gives PA Gov. Tom Corbett a tour of the facility during a campaign stop on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.
Brian F. Henry | Trib Total Media
Mona Pappafava-Ray, president and CEO of General Carbide Corporation in Hempfield Township, gives PA Gov. Tom Corbett a tour of the facility during a campaign stop on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.
Governor Tom Corbett speaks to the employees of General Carbide Corporation in Hempfield Township during a campaign stop on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.
Brian F. Henry | Trib Total Media
Governor Tom Corbett speaks to the employees of General Carbide Corporation in Hempfield Township during a campaign stop on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.
Governor Tom Corbett shakes hands with Ryan Catone of Greensburg, a sales rep for General Carbide Corporation in Hempfield Township, during a campaign stop on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.
Brian F. Henry | Trib Total Media
Governor Tom Corbett shakes hands with Ryan Catone of Greensburg, a sales rep for General Carbide Corporation in Hempfield Township, during a campaign stop on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.

Gov. Tom Corbett Wednesday hammered Democrat Tom Wolf over his proposal to raise the state income tax during a campaign stop in Westmoreland County, claiming it would put an undue burden on taxpayers and stifle the growth of job-producing companies like General Carbide Corp., the Hempfield manufacturing plant he toured.

“This race has boiled down to taxes. His (Wolf's) plan would up personal income taxes by 188 percent. The increase is going to be huge,” Corbett told about 40 workers at General Carbide, which manufactures tungsten carbide tooling for industrial wear and metal forming applications.

Corbett, a Republican from Shaler, told the workers to be wary of supporting Wolf or any candidate who says he can lower taxes for some people and raise it for others without offering specifics.

“Mr. Wolf wants you to elect him before you find out what he wants to do,” Corbett said. “We need an opponent to say what he stands for.”

The governor said Wolf's plans to raise taxes would be terrible for the state's business climate because it would raise taxes on job creators and hurt a growing economy that has 250,000 job openings across the state.

“He's at your door and he wants your pocketbook,” Corbett said.

Mona Pappafava-Ray, chief executive of General Carbide, agreed that raising taxes on businesses will hurt the economy.

“It doesn't just stifle growth. It reduces growth,” said Pappafava-Ray, whose family-owned business has emerged stronger in the six years since the recession began.

Higher taxes, along with an expected spike in health care costs, will prevent the company from investing in machinery and growing its workforce of about 225, Pappafava-Ray said.

“Whatever money we can save, we put the money back into the business and it grows,” she said.

Corbett's message Wednesday warning about tax hikes mirrors his campaign ad blitz.

Recent polls show Corbett has closed the gap in his battle with Wolf, putting the governor between seven and 17 points behind the York Democrat with less than three weeks remaining before the Nov. 4 election. In early summer, Wolf led the governor by more than 20 points in polls.

Corbett said he has been down in the polls in his previous races. In the last few weeks of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Corbett's lead over Democrat Dan Onorato of Pittsburgh ranged from five to 15 points, and he beat Onorato by nine points. Westmoreland County contributed to that victory, giving the attorney general 68 percent of the vote.

Corbett said he isn't worried about the poll deficit, showing a photo on his cellphone of a 1978 newspaper headline heralding Republican Dick Thornburgh's defeat of Democrat Pete Flaherty after Thornburgh was down 17 points.

Corbett said he's confident he can beat Wolf, even though the Democrat's home base is part of the famed Pennsylvania “T” that Republican candidates often rely on for a victory after holding down Democratic vote totals in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas.

He said Democrats are so worried about voter turnout that they have brought in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to stump for Wolf, and President Obama will campaign for Wolf next week.

Democrats were able to get out only 18 percent of the vote in the May primary, despite having a crowded field of candidates.

The Wolf campaign responded to Corbett's attacks Wednesday by saying that “independent fact checkers have called Gov. Corbett's attacks desperate and deceitful.” Wolf's campaign said Corbett raised taxes on the middle class by increasing the gas tax and made $1 billion in cuts to education, which forced school districts to raise real estate taxes.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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