Dec 16, 2010

Five Questions I'd Ask Pa. Gov.-Elect Tom Corbett

Guest Column By Jason Gallagher

Tom Corbett was recently elected the new governor of Pennsylvania. Along with the victory comes a slew of problems and challenging issues that are bound to creep up on any public official, but as a Pennsylvania resident, there are a few specific questions I would love to ask Corbett.

What is your plan to help combat unemployment and get people back to work?

While the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is lingering around 8.8 percent, a little below the national average of 9.6 percent, Pennsylvania is keeping jobs a little better than other parts of the country. However, with Unemployment Benefits due to expire, Pennsylvania will take a substantial blow to the economy. Supposedly, Tom Corbett has a specific plan for getting people back to work, but what is it exactly and how does he feel it will be a sustainable long-term solution to keeping income flowing into Pennsylvanian's pockets? Here in Western Pennsylvania, the collapse of the steel industry left many scrambling for jobs, this has to stop being a one or two industry region. Without jobs potential workers will only leave the state, and we need to keep great people here in Pennsylvania.

How do you plan to erase a $4 billion dollar shortfall in the Pennsylvania budget?

Gov. Elect Corbett faces a state budget that is nearly $4 billion dollars out of budget. I would like to know how he plans to generate an additional $4 billion or cut the same amount from the state budget without passing the spending on to Pennsylvania tax payers who have been hammered by the recession. Relying on short-term fixes to get through a rough patch is one thing, but it is vital to Pennsylvania that we come up with a budget that is achievable through realistic spending practices. It is important to this tax payer that my money is part of a large plan of effectiveness, not just being tossed into a growing hole of debt and unrealistic budget cuts.

Why is Pennsylvania not taxing gas drilling from the Marcellus Shale Region?

The Marcellus Shale Drilling Project may be the greatest industrial windfall Pennsylvania has seen in some time. We obviously need the financial benefits that a fee on the removal of natural gas would produce. This money could help offset losses in other areas, plus be put toward research and monitoring of the fracking process to ensure all Pennsylvania residents keep safe and clean water. Pennsylvania needs to stand up and take advantage of our natural resources, and that likely means taxing these companies removing those resources from the ground. This is important to the future of Pennsylvania not just the present, and it needs to be addressed.

How do you plan to attract more businesses to Pennsylvania?

Business is the spinning hub that keeps money flowing. Businesses employ people, businesses purchase supplies, and businesses pay taxes. CNBC ranked Pennsylvania 20th in a list of "Best States to Do Business", and in that same study the state ranks 42nd in the important cost of business category. Making some changes for businesses to operate in a more friendly environment could propel the state to top ten status. Making small businesses and large corporations comfortable would have an overwhelmingly positive effect, not only on the economy but also on the population. The tax money these businesses generate could help pay for education, prisons, healthcare, and so much more. It is vital that Pennsylvania take business creation seriously.

Will Pennsylvania feature more incentives to purchase energy efficient appliances and vehicles?

As a long standing advocate of responsible energy use, the short lived programs that inspired thousands of households to purchase Energy Star appliances and hybrid or electric vehicles was a step in the right direction. Now is the time build upon the success of that program and offer further incentives to consumers around the state to shop responsibly and make an impression. Not only will these devices lower utility costs, but the incentives can help offset their sometimes much higher purchase prices. These are programs that need to come back.

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