7 LG candidates crowd into Republican Committee forum

Most of the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor agree on the following facts:

–Taxes are too high

–Governor Rendell spends too much

–Looming pension costs are putting Pennsylvania on the brink

–Attorney General Tom Corbett will solve all these problems when he’s elected governor.

Seven L-G hopefuls crowded a platform at the Hilton for a forum on the first day of the State Republican Committee’s endorsement meeting. To a T, they all said the commonwealth is spending itself into oblivion. Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley, the favorite to win an endorsement this weekend, said, “it’s been a 40-percent spending increase over the life of [the Rendell A]dministration. Folks, that’s got to end.” He continued, “What do they do? They turn to look for more revenue sources. Let’s toll I-80. Let’s put a severance tax on Marcellus Shale. No. What we have to do is start living within our means.”

Dauphin County Commissioner Nick DiFrancesco said last year’s budget cuts didn’t go far enough, and argued he’d be willing to advocate for unpopular decisions if elected. “You know, are our state parks worthy of funding during an economic crisis where people are losing their jobs, losing their homes, and household budgets are tightening? Parks are great – but do they warrant being funded when households are struggling? We can go down the list on a lot of things.”

Most of the candidates spoke as if Corbett is running unopposed in the spring primary. Again and again, Cawley, Joe Watkins, Jean Craig Pepper, Chet Beiler and the others said they’d “help Governor Corbett,” or that “Governor Corbett will cut spending,” or lower taxes.

The quote of the afternoon went to Craige Pepper, who argued against taxing natural gas extractions from what she called the Marcellus Shelf.  “You don’t want to tax this thing. As the Beatles said, let it be. Let this wonderful asset be tapped and let it make jobs for Pennsylvania. And revenue.”

Corbett and state Representative Sam Rohrer will participate in a gubernatorial candidates forum this evening.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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