Governor Pitches Legislative Priorities In Plains

Scranton Times Tribune

With less than a month until the state budget’s deadline, Gov. Tom Corbett pitched his legislative priorities to about 200 regional business leaders, including his plan to inject $1.8 billion over five years into Pennsylvania’s infrastructure.

The government needs to foster an environment for business to create jobs, Mr. Corbett told members of area chambers of commerce. And Mr. Corbett called fixing the state’s 4,000 structurally deficient bridges and 10,000 miles of roads in need of repair a selling point in locating businesses to the area.

Back in Harrisburg, the state Senate approved a bipartisan transportation bill similar to Mr. Corbett’s that would raise $2.5 billion over five years.

At the Woodlands Inn and Resort, the governor also pushed for his plan to privatize the state’s liquor system, pointing out Pennsylvania is one of only two states that prevents people from having “choice and convenience” and the ability to buy beer, wine and liquor where they want. The other state is Utah.

He said many young mothers told him they don’t want to take their children into state liquor stores, but would rather pick up alcohol at a grocery store. His plan to privatize state liquor stores would raise $1 billion for public schools.

Answering a question about the Marcellus Shale industry, Corbett defended natural gas drilling companies, saying the companies pay taxes, provide well-paying jobs and make infrastructure improvements.

Meanwhile, the governor criticized the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid rolls to include hundreds of thousands of additional low-income Pennsylvanians. He said covering the uninsured will be costly to others.

“Whose money are we talking about? Taxpayers’ money,” he said. “Every day, we are learning something new about (Affordable Care Act). One of the things we found out is we’re going to have to take all children that are on CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and move them over to the Affordable Care Act, which isn’t as good as the CHIP program in Pennsylvania.”

Mr. Corbett called CHIP a “model in the country.”

“Now they want to chuck it in order to get into their system,” he said. “I have a problem with that.”

Representatives from the several area chambers of commerce attended the event called “A Conversation with Gov. Tom Corbett.” Participating chamber members came from Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, the Back Mountain, Hazleton, Pittston and the Poconos as well as Columbia, Montour and Wayne counties.