Corbett puts out reform package — other gov candidates to appear at afternoon forum

Attorney General Tom Corbett’s campaign has unveiled its reform package. The press release is below.

Nothing too new here — Corbett says he’ll eliminate WAMs and per diems, reduce the state’s vehicle fleet and move toward a tw0-year budget process, among other measures. These policies have been part of the GOP front-runner’s stump speech for awhile now. He’s promised to introduce legislation carrying out the measures during his first week on the job.

In other gubernatorial news, the United Way is hosting a candidates forum this afternoon at the Harrisburg Hilton. The focus will be on the non-profit agencies who were hurt by last year’s 101-day budget impasse. (Here’s a story I did for NPR on that issue last summer.) Every candidate but Corbett is expected to attend. The forum starts at 1:30.

Pittsburgh – Speaking before a crowd of Pittsburgh-area business leaders, Attorney General Tom Corbett today unveiled the first of his plans to turn back on the power of Pennsylvania’s economy with the release of his government reform policy platform that focuses on changing the way things are done in Harrisburg. “To create real economic growth in Pennsylvania and put hard-working Pennsylvanians back to work, we must start from the foundation up and fix the government that guides it,” stated Tom Corbett. “I will provide an open, transparent, accountable and trustworthy government that finally puts the taxpayers of this great state first.”

Tom Corbett announced that he will spend his first week as Governor working with members of the General Assembly to introduce his plan to reform state government. “We will immediately begin the process of reforming Harrisburg and putting the people back in the people’s government,” said Corbett.

The highlights of Tom Corbett’s reform plan include:

  • 100% transparency in state government so taxpayers know how their money is spent
  • Reducing the size and cost of state government with a 10% reduction in administrative operations
  • Eliminating WAMS and discretionary funds
  • Eliminating state government paid per diems
  • Reducing the state automotive fleet to help save taxpayers $72 million per year
  • Moving to a biennial budget
  • Zero based/performance-based budgeting to make sure state agencies meet their performance goals to determine their funding
  • Capping the General Assembly “Leadership Funds”
  • Sunset and audit of state boards and commissions
  • Consolidating state services to make state government more efficient
  • Ensuring that state legislators help pay for their own healthcare plans
  • Banning political contributions and gifts during the procurement process

Tom Corbett emphasized that as we work to build trust and accountability in state government, Pennsylvania will be better positioned to grow good, family-sustaining jobs and reduce the tax burden on Pennsylvanians. With Pennsylvania facing near double-digit unemployment, Corbett says we have to work to get our business climate in order. Pennsylvania has an enormous amount of resources and Corbett says it is time we turn them into an innovative economy that makes Pennsylvania globally competitive: “As governor, I will work with you to harness our energy potential, grow jobs and economic development opportunities, build a transportation infrastructure to support our economy and better prepare our children for tomorrow’s jobs.”

“I am running for Governor because it is the time for leadership in Harrisburg, leadership that doesn’t just talk to Pennsylvanians, but listens and does the right thing,” declared Corbett. “Leadership that makes decisions in Harrisburg based on what’s in the best interest of Pennsylvanians. And that is how I plan to govern.”

To view Tom Corbett’s government reform plan in its entirety, visit www.tomcorbettforgovernor.com.

Williams enters the Democratic primary

State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams is officially running for governor. “I’m out of the closet,” he joked at the Pennsylvania Press Club today.

Williams says he’s hired three staffers, opened up a Philadelphia office, and has already raised nearly two million dollars. Referencing recent polls showing single-digit and low-teen name recognition for the other Democrats, Williams said he’s confident his campaign will make up for lost time. “72 percent of the folks in Pennsylvania don’t even know there’s a gubernatorial race. I’m very comfortable if I’m on television they’ll at least notice there’s another guy running.”

Williams remains evasive on the source of his fundraising, saying only that his donors “come from a variety of backgrounds. Who are interested in, obviously in controlling costs, controlling spending in government, educational choice, people who are concerned about unions in Pennsylvania.” He acknowledged several Republicans have contributed to his campaign.

Moderator John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News asked Williams about a range of topics during his lunchtime appearance at the Harrisburg Hilton. Williams said he’s hesitant about the impact of natural gas drilling, but wouldn’t support a moratorium on permitting or the leasing of state forest land. He’s against gay marriage, saying “a civil contract is adequate. I have no problem if somebody wants to use a religious sanctuary for a ceremony.” Williams doesn’t think lawmakers should have been allowed to recoup lost pay after last year’s 101-day budget impasse.

Williams says his strategy will be an intense focus on southeastern Pennsylvania. He pointed to the 2002 Democratic primary, where Bob Casey carried 57 counties, but lost to Ed Rendell due to strong turnout in Philadelphia and its suburbs.

The announcement brings the Democratic primary field back up to four candidates. Williams joins Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Auditor General Jack Wagner and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel in the race.

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