Gov. Corbett: Maryland Residents Moving To Pa. Is A Good Sign

York Daily Record

Gov. Tom Corbett said he sees Maryland license plates in southern York County as a sign of the success he’s had in controlling government costs and making Pennsylvania more affordable to live in.

“All I have to do … is watch the cars moving in,” Corbett said during a meeting with Digital First Media editors and reporters including the York Daily Record/Sunday News Thursday. “…You see all the Maryland plates down there? …They’re moving up here. Why? …Gov. (Martin) O’Malley’s done a fair amount of raising taxes, as far as I understand.”

During the nearly hour-long meeting at the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg, Corbett talked about plans to introduce a specific pension reform proposal in the coming weeks, defended his lawsuit against the NCAA and said that school property tax reform isn’t a priority this year.

Here are some highlights:

On the need for pension reform:

He called pensions “the tapeworm of the budget,” saying the cost for them has been increasing at an unsustainable rate.

“It’s going to continue to eat in to all of the other programs that we’re trying to do,” Corbett said.

On planning a reform proposal:

“You’re going to see us make a proposal. And it’s not going to be an easy one,” Corbett said, adding that he couldn’t provide the details yet “because we haven’t made up our minds yet, as to which way to go about it.”

Corbett joked that he has two weeks to make up his mind.

During an earlier meeting Thursday, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said the Corbett administration will propose pension reforms as part of the governor’s budget proposal in early February.

Zogby said they’re considering taking overtime out of earnings that count for pensions. And he said that while they’re not considering taking away anything from active employees, in terms of what they’ve already earned, they may propose changing the benefits they earn in the future.

On taxes:

When asked how much more difficult the pension problem is to deal with given his desire to not raise taxes, Corbett replied: “I don’t look it at it from that perspective. …I don’t think we can raise taxes enough to fix this … enough that would ever reasonably get passed.”

Corbett said holding the line on taxes has lead to an improving state economy.

“We’ve had 108,000 new private sector jobs created in the last two years,” Corbett said. “We have unemployment starting to tick down.”

On trying to move away from property taxes to fund education:

“Not this year,” Corbett said. “Not this year.”

Corbett said they have to deal with the pension issue first.

Cuts to counties:

In December, York County commissioners approved an 8.9 percent increase for county real estate taxes – a decision that county officials said was driven by $7.2 million in state and federal cuts for core county services.

“We have to live within our budgets,” Corbett said. “…The same thing happens from the federal government to us.”

Corbett suggested that York County would have been helped by signing up for a pilot program that would have given officials here more discretion in how they spend certain money for human service programs.

York County spokesman Carl Lindquist previously said that the concept of the human services block grant had merit, but there were too many unanswered questions and “the state’s poorly planned roll-out …. left us with little choice but to opt out.”

On his NCAA lawsuit over the Penn State sanctions:

When asked if he was surprised about the level of backlash over the lawsuit, Corbett said he wasn’t.

“This is an emotional issue,” Corbett said. “…I have to take emotion out of it. We as lawyers do that all the time. What are the facts?”

Read more: