Friday, April 29, 2011

Gov. Corbett's greatest hits: a retrospective of the guv's first 100 days

Looking back it is hard to believe that Gov. Corbett has been in office a scant hundred days, when those hundred days have been so memorable.

On this occasion here's a review of some of the governor's most infamous acts.

After his swearing in on Jan. 18 and his campaign promise to introduce his reform package on Day 1, many expected it on -- Jan. 19. However Gov. Corbett introduced his first major initiative a week late and in the least transparent way possible: via press release and pre-recorded video.

His staff brushed off criticism claiming people misunderstood his campaign promise -- after all "Day 1" is confusing. His staff also said "He's [the guv] going to make announcements when he thinks something is important..." clearly reform didn't rank high on his agenda. A 2nd indicator of the importance of reform: appointing his campaign manager's dad to a $196K per/year job.

After Corbett's decision to introduce his 1st major initiative via video, it wasn't a surprise when a month or so later he started barring the public, Capitol staff and lobbyists from his press conferences.

In February the administration's priorities were made even clearer. First with the elimination of the affordable health insurance program, adultBasic, for nearly 42,000 working adults; and then the corporate giveaway, bonus depreciation, to the tune of $200 million for big corporations (see The governor can’t find money for adultBasic, but he found over $200 million for big business).

Finally March rolled around -- time for the big "No tax" budget address.

In his roughly 8 page speech, Corbett managed to propose cutting basic education by $1 billion (see All education cuts are not created equal ), reducing the state's appropriation to state colleges by 50% (see Corbett should treat higher education the same way he treats other industries), and named his devoted campaign contributor-turned-DCED secretary C. Alan Walker as the final voice in all permitting issues affecting potential job growth (see Corbett appoints a Supreme Decider). Notably absent in those 8 pages...transportation. PA's nearly 6000 structurally deficient bridges weren't on Corbett's budgetary radar screen.

Four months of planning for this?

In the weeks following the infamous budget address, which was generally ill-received, the governor made a few missteps, or actually miss-statements. He's continuously shown admiration for the Lone Star State, but has failed to familiarize himself with its basic policies -- like its severance tax, combined reporting and property tax (see If you wannabe like Texas, you gotta (en)act like Taxes and Oops he did it again... )

Despite his staunch opposition to a severance tax (he doesn't care what 70% of Pennsylvanians think, he made a No Tax pledge), the governor did promise a group of municipal officials that he'd keep our water clean. The same day as his promise, his DEP chief said the natural gas industry could continue to send their polluted wastewater for an additional 30 days to our state's treatment facilities, although they're not equipped to treat the water, which eventually flows to our streams and rivers.

Oh, and then Chesapeake Energy's well exploded in Bradford County, releasing tens of thousands of gallons of polluted water across the landscape (see Heckuva a week for Marcellus Shale reporters). But Gov. Corbett did create the Marcellus Shale Commission to explore the industry in PA... but stacked with it industry execs, who accumulated over 500 violations last year.

Now the governor waits. His commissions meet, his GOP brethren debate legislation, and the governor crosses his fingers that his budget will get enacted in his next 100 days.