New Gov. Tom Corbett Planning to Zero in on Budget
Bumsted, Brad, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
HARRISBURG -- When Tom Corbett places his hand on a Bible at noon Jan. 18 to take the oath as Pennsylvania's 46th governor, he'll face a $4 billion deficit -- the largest revenue gap in state history -- and political experts predict that will consume most of his first year in office.
Asked what he believes will be Corbett's focus during his first 100 days, Republican consultant Charlie Gerow of Harrisburg, said: "One simple word: budget."
Corbett said the most important appointment among the 18 Cabinet choices he'll make is the budget secretary.
A Shaler Republican and the state's attorney general, Corbett defeated Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato of Brighton Heights by an 55 percent to 45 percent margin, to replace two-term Democrat Ed Rendell.
Corbett's agenda of cutting spending, lowering taxes and reforming government's functions received a major boost when voters enabled Republicans to take control of the state House and, as expected, to retain control of the Senate.
Initiatives such as selling the state liquor store system, offering school choice, cutting taxes and improving the business climate by curbing lawsuit abuse stand a better chance of approval in the Legislature, say political experts and key Corbett supporters.
But don't expect most of those issues to be resolved in 100 days - - the yardstick used to gauge an executive's performance since Congress approved most of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's agenda in 100 days.
In Pennsylvania, governors rarely accomplish much in that time span. The governor doesn't introduce his budget until his second month in office, and legislators don't resolve most complicated budget quarrels until late June or July -- even later under Rendell.
During his first week as governor, Corbett said he'll propose ending "the perks and special privileges" of legislative discretionary grants and unvouchered expense money for lawmakers, and cutting the Legislature's $200 million reserve fund.
"Day One, I'm handing Harrisburg my reform plan," Corbett said in a television ad during the campaign.
He'll move to trim what he calls a "ridiculous" number of 16,000 state vehicles, as well.
Cutting perks and excessive cars is more than symbolic for Corbett. …