Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Return to Texas

One silver lining to the GOP presidential debates inundating the airwaves is that we get to hear politicians and pundits distinguish fact from fiction in regards to the business friendly, economic boomtown and supposed utopia Gov. Corbett refers to as Texas.

Gov. Corbett has modeled many of his overdue and inadequate policies on the Lone Star state and gushs over it as a policy paradise. But as is often the case, the claims coming from the Corbett (and Perry) camp need some fact checking.

Marcellus matters

The Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission chief, Lt.  Gov.  Jim Cawley made it clear from day one that the extraction tax that 70% of Pennsylvanians support and that every other state has was “off the table.” After the group issued its report, Cawley explained that the Commonwealth’s business climate simply is not as “friendly as Texas,” therefore we can’t implement a tax on natural gas drilling similar to theirs.

What Cawley didn’t consider is that Texas, unlike Pennsylvania has closed the Delaware Loophole. PA’s failure to do so allows 70% of C corporations to operate here tax free. It further demonstrates the Administration’s focus on corporate rather than Commonwealth interests.  In Pennsylvania, a family earning $33,000 a year pays more income tax than 85% of all registered C-Corporations, many of which are multi-state and multi-national corporations that pay taxes everywhere else.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs?

The Corbett Administration and PA GOP leaders have sought to emulate Texas by repeating their mantra: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.  And while it is true, Gov. Perry’s Texas did grow jobs in Texas, nearly a quarter of those are public sector jobs like those that the GOP is seeking to slash through Leader Turzai’s liquor privatization plan and Corbett’s historic cuts to public education, which resulted in over 14,000 jobs lost.  In addition to job creation, Texas also is tied for #1 the country in the number of low wage workers.

Healthy Texans

And despite all those jobs, only 48% of Texans have private health insurance, and more than a quarter have no insurance at all. Texas’ GOP leaders have been slashing the eligibility for government-sponsored insurance like CHIP over the past decade leading to nearly 6.5 million people without health care, a majority of which are employed fulltime. Now it’s easy to see why Gov. Corbett decided to eliminate adultBasic for 41,000 working Pennsylvanians last spring.

Women’s Health

Pennsylvania’s conservatives have also set their sights on making PA hostile to women’s health like Texas, where the 71 family planning clinics receiving government funding are often referred to as abortion clinics even though NONE of them actually perform abortions. The result of failing to fund prevention methods, like basic contraceptives, means Texas spends more than any other state on teen pregnancies. So while the legislature debates the regulating of women’s health clinics right out-of-business, less of Pennsylvania’s women will have access to mammograms, cervical cancer and blood pressure screenings, and HIV testing.

Maybe the American public will get the opportunity to judge the Texas miracle for themselves, maybe not. I’m confident Texas’s formula is not as good for Pennsylvania’s communities as it is for the multi-state corporations working here. One thing is certain for the Corbett and his GOP partners, as the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” In this case, the facts just don’t support the misguided opnion.