Listen: 7 minutes with Gov. Corbett on education spending and competing priorities

Governor Tom Corbett during an interview at the WHYY studio (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Governor Tom Corbett during an interview at the WHYY studio (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett came to WHYY studios Friday to answer a wide array of questions from various reporters during an hourlong visit.

Aside from NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller’s interview, the conversations weren’t intended to be broadcast in their entirety.

But upon reviewing the tape – considering the importance of education as an issue in this election – I decided to post my full, unedited seven-minute conversation with Corbett, who is seeking re-election to a second term.

Some of what the Republican incumbent says will become content for analysis pieces in the coming weeks, as well as for our hourlong election special hosted by senior reporter Dave Davies. That’s slated to air at the end of the month.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Democratic challenger Tom Wolf will be here this Friday morning to face a similar array of questions. I plan to post my unedited interview with him next week.

In addition to education, the candidates’ positions on issues including taxes, fiscal policy, economic development and energy will be compared and contrasted.

Here’s a sample of Corbett’s responses to my education questions.

On priority decisions following disappearance of stimulus funding:

“I had a choice of going back and taking money out of the [other] areas that state money was moved to from the budget and putting it back in [the education budget], and chose not to. So yes, that was a choice.”

On former Gov. Ed Rendell’s handling of teacher pension payments:

“My predecessor reduced the payments to pensions. He took state money out, replaced it with federal money. You knew that was going to come up short. And he walked away from it.”

Was it a bad decision to cut the charter reimbursement line-item?

“Hindsight being 20/20, maybe. Maybe, but we did not have the money at that time.”

McCorry: You could have gotten it from somewhere else. That was a priority decision.

Corbett:  “If we would have increased taxes on people. We could have also gotten it in the school districts if they keep their spending under control, or if they collect their taxes here in the School District of Philadelphia. … We look to the school districts to control their spending. Cause it’s there. They’re the ones that make the decision how much they’re going to spend.”

Listen to the full interview by clicking the “play” button above.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal