Friday, May 6, 2011

Chef Corbett's chopping block -- targeting programs that brew billions of bucks

Tom Corbett's record-setting and reckless cuts to education have received national attention since they were introduced in March. Programs like pre-k and full day kindergarten and staff like librarians are being scrapped across the state as districts struggle to reduce costs.

Beyond education however there are dozens of other proven, revenue-generating programs where funding is being cut or eliminated -- programs where underfunding could have a negative impact on the economic recovery of our Commonwealth.

Is Corbett's half-baked plan to underfund tourism a recipe to spoil a leading PA industry?

It is no surprise that tourism is Pennsylvania's second largest industry: from our celebrated historical heritage to our treasured tradition of hunting; from our spirited urban centers to our restful rural farmsteads.

In fact Pennsylvania welcomes 175 million visitors every year, generating $3.4 billion in travel and tourism-related state and local taxes alone. The industry employees more than 400,000 residents and yields a total economic impact $33 billion.

The question is if the tourism industry can produce these economic benefits after suffering a 70% cut. While Corbett goes out of his way to cook up a gourmet business climate for the out- of-state natural gas drillers, who by the way contributed a paltry $218 million last year according to the governor's own specially commissioned Dept of Revenue study, he leaves the homegrown Pennsylvania tourism industry with table scraps.

Poorly-funded tourism leaves Pennsylvania less competitive with other states like Virginia and Michigan which are boosting their investment to spur more visitors. It seems the governor is only interested in attracting transients from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas to exploit our natural gas, pay taxes elsewhere and depart when their job is done.

Here is the first in a series of posts exposing the pennywise pound foolish cuts being embraced by PA's GOP leaders.