Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Corbett hits the road to sell budget
BY MARC LEVY, Associated Press
HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett has hit the road to sell an ambitious spring agenda, toting a message honed to win over popular opinion.
Audiences on Wednesday began hearing the sales pitch, a day after the Republican governor revealed the full scope of his plans to increase transportation funding, rein in pension costs and boost spending next year. Those blueprints are accompanied by his recently announced strategy to liberalize sales of beer, wine and liquor in Pennsylvania.
It helps that, for the first time in his three years of presenting budget plans, Corbett has floated one that does not advance stiff cuts to at least some area of state government aid. That allows him to play up his proposed new spending on public schools and social services, not to mention his third year of seeking business tax cuts.
"A lot of people talk to me about my political future," Corbett told a Wednesday breakfast meeting of the Associated Builders and Contractors, a trade group of non-union construction business owners that endorsed Corbett in his 2010 campaign.
"You're taking on pensions. You're taking on transportation. You're taking on the sale of the (Liquor Control Board). By the way, how many of you would like to be able to buy your beer and wine in a grocery store?"
That last line brought applause in the Harrisburg hotel ballroom before Corbett finished it.
His pitch was more or less this: An increase in wholesale fuel taxes is necessary to protect motorists on Pennsylvania's bridges and highways from catastrophe. Lawmakers must adopt his plan to counter rising pension costs or face tax increases. And does anyone like the Prohibition-era rules that limit where Pennsylvanians can buy beer, wine and liquor?