Pa. panel to explore privatization of state assets

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s office is mum on the details of a commission that will serve as the first step in a process to privatize Pennsylvania’s assets.

    Kevin Harley, Corbett’s spokesman, provided only a broad sketch of what question the commission would be trying to answer in its final report to the governor.

    “Basically, what are the core functions of state government, and if we’re not involved in the core functions, should the state government even be doing those?” he said.

    The sell-off of the state’s liquor stores won’t be on the commission’s agenda. And another commission has already suggested how the private sector should participate in transportation infrastructure projects.

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    So what assets will this commission be looking to sell?

    Political scientist Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College says Corbett’s announcement about the scope and its make up will hint at the answers. But even then, Madonna says, legislative action probably won’t come quickly.

    “I think we’re probably a long way off, probably longer than we would be with the Marcellus Shale commission,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, chairman of the State Government Committee, says the Departments of Public Welfare and Education are two agencies ripe for privatization efforts.

    Corbett’s spokesman says a more detailed panel announcement is coming in the next two weeks.

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