Governor, Pennsylvania

Compare the positions of incumbent Tom Corbett (R) and challenger Tom Wolf (D) as they compete for the governor’s seat in Pennsylvania.

corbett160Tom Corbett (R)IncumbentCorbett, 65, grew up in Western Pennsylvania, became a county prosecutor, federal prosecutor, then U.S. Attorney. Served as appointed state attorney general 1995-97, then won election to the office in 2004 and 2008. Beat Democrat Dan Onorato in 2010 governor’s race.

Key Backers

Republican Governors Association
John Templeton, president of Templeton Foundation
Phillies co-owner John S. Middleton
Montgomery County Republican Bob Asher

Education

Facing early fiscal challenge, chose not to replace disappearing stimulus funds to maintain education funding. Classroom spending has declined, especially in charter-rich districts, while more went for teacher pension costs. Wants to tie more state aid to accountability and performance. Favors vouchers and charters. (Listen: 7 minutes with Corbett on education)

Taxes / Fiscal Policy

Supports moving new state workers into hybrid retirement plans, which combine traditional pensions with 401(k)-like plans. Agreed to a no-tax pledge during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, but has not renewed it again this year. Has opposed a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling. Signed legislation that increased several fees and a gas tax, though he argues that the latter is not a tax hike and that instead he lifted an “artificial” cap on the tax.

Jobs / Economy

Believes that spending restraint, resisting tax hikes, and lowering business taxes have spurred revival in state economy. Pa. unemployment is down from 8.1 percent to 5.8 percent since he took office, roughly tracking the national economy. Favors targeted subsidies to job-creating projects.

Energy / Environment

Resisted calls for gas extraction tax, saying it would harm industry; agreed to a local impact fee. Favors new leases in state forests. Wants to lift drilling moratorium in Delaware River basin. Was criticized for ordering state parks and conservation agency to delete references to climate change from website.

Ad Watch

Factcheck.org rebuts Corbett ads targeting Wolf (Oct. 17, 2014)
Corbett attack ad skews story of Wolf’s business (Oct. 7, 2014)
What a week: Porno emails and strange ads in the Keystone State (Oct. 2, 2014)
New Pa. GOP flier associates Tom Wolf with Gosnell (Sept. 24, 2014)
Corbett ad says Pa. media agree with him (Sept. 18, 2014)
Guv’s race: Fighting like Tom cats over school funding (Sept. 10, 2014)
Corbett attack ad features Wolf look-a-like (Aug. 1, 2014)
Corbett, Wolf campaigns spar on taxes (July 25, 2014)
Corbett hits July airwaves with jobs ad (July 8, 2014)

 

wolf160Tom Wolf (D)ChallengerWolf, 65, grew up in York County, served in the Peace Corps, and got a Ph.D. in political science from MIT. Ran his family’s business, sold it, came back and ran it again. Has never held elective office, but was Pa. Revenue Secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell. Put $10 million into his campaign; won a five-way primary in May.

Key Backers

Himself and family members (gave over $10 million)
Public employee unions
Thomas Grumbacher, chairman of The Bon-Ton Stores

Education

Wants to increase state share of education funding and provide universal pre-K. Costs are unclear, but favors a gas extraction tax for funding. Favors new charter regulations, and restoring state charter reimbursement program for school districts. Proposed replacing Philly’s School Reform Commission with a locally elected school board.

Taxes / Fiscal Policy

Favors changing state income tax to give middle-class and poor families a lower rate than wealthier taxpayers, a move likely to face a court challenge. Supports traditional pensions for state workers. Would close “Delaware loophole” in corporate income tax and impose 5 percent extraction tax on gas drilling.

Jobs / Economy

Favors state payments to Pa. manufacturers who create good-paying jobs, “innovation grants” to support collaboration between colleges and emerging businesses, and improving vocational programs in high schools. Wants to lower corporate tax rates and eliminate loopholes.

Energy / Environment

Favors 5 percent gas extraction tax, opposes new drilling in state forests and lifting moratorium in Delaware River basin. Has plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change.

Ad Watch

Wolf has new ad, Corbett gets friendly poll numbers (Aug. 7, 2014)
Campaign ad returns Pa. focus to education spending (July 29, 2014)
Wolf doesn’t intend to go negative with campaign ads (May 13, 2014)

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