TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Corbett sends a signal

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, July 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

HARRISBURG

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett touched off an internal party war by vetoing one-fifth of the state Legislature's operating funds because the House and Senate hadn't approved pension reform.

The veto won't bring the Legislature to its knees. It still will live fat off its $153 million surplus. Still, his action was perceived by leaders as a slap in the face as he signed the rest of a no-tax-hike budget.

So why would Corbett anger fellow Republicans? A complex series of events over the past three and half years explains it — the Legislature has always been wary of Corbett, the former top state prosecutor who put many of their colleagues and former staffers in prison and campaigned against it in 2010. Corbett, who has acted like an attorney general while governor, brought much of this on himself by keeping his plans as secret as a grand jury indictment, remaining figuratively cloistered in the governor's office, failing to grab the reins of power. Perhaps because of its history, he was too willing to defer to the Legislature to come up with a plan rather than lead.

From the standpoint of Corbett supporters, the GOP-run Legislature has done very little for him and he owes them nothing. The Senate essentially ignored liquor store divestiture and the House couldn't round up the votes on school choice in 2012.

A key factor no one talks openly about is that Corbett doesn't have WAMs, “walking-around money.” They are discretionary grants governors and leaders use to “lubricate” the system and get votes. Corbett said he would get rid of WAMs. For the most part, he did. A mutant form of WAM-like grants — some called them earmarks — showed up in the fiscal code approved by both chambers. Corbett vetoed that designated spending as well as 20 percent of the Legislature's operating money.

The way GOP leaders reacted to his veto was a clear indication that top Republicans view Corbett as a goner in his November contest with Democrat challenger Tom Wolf.

Corbett clearly brought this specific budget predicament on himself when he said he wouldn't sign a state budget without pension and liquor reform. He got neither. If he signed the budget he'd look weak and if he vetoed it he'd have a mess on his hands. Signing it, but also going after the Legislature, was his best option.

It was a campaign statement. He's using pension reform to try to bring back his Republican base, said G. Terry Madonna, a longtime political analyst.

Corbett should have made a bolder statement and vetoed 90 percent of all legislative expenses. The backstory is the Legislature wouldn't give up any of its surplus in earlier budget talks. It's outrageous that it is sitting on a $153 million reserve, which has been used as a slush fund. Corbett's veto could potentially make it use almost half.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter (717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com).

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Rossi: Nothing huge, but Huntington helped Bucs
  2. Inside The Steelers: LB Williams dominates backs-on-backers drill at Latrobe Memorial Stadium
  3. Marte’s 2 fine defensive plays rescue Pirates in victory over Reds
  4. Steelers OLB coach Porter teaches as passionately as he played
  5. 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
  6. Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
  7. College Board alternative pushed
  8. Suspects in SWAT incident in Pittsburgh identified
  9. Deadly snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.
  10. Reporter seeks male students headed to Chatham
  11. 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh