PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Budget problems plague a lot of states right now and next Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett will deliver a major budget address to state legislators.
Today, one of his predecessors talked about the budget crisis Corbett is facing.
Few men know as much about state budgets as Pennsylvania’s former governor Tom Ridge.
“Pennsylvanians are ready for some candor, some honesty,” said Ridge. “They’re willing to endure a little bit of pain.”
Appearing at a taping of the Sunday Business Page, Ridge says Gov. Tom Corbett has his work cut out for him when he presents his budget next Tuesday.
“Gov. Corbett is going to have a very difficult challenge. He’s up to it; to remind Pennsylvanians that fiscal responsibility is one of his jobs,” said Ridge. “He’s going to have to make some cuts, whether across the board or very selective and surgical.”
Ridge, a Republican, hopes Corbett does not follow the example of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who precipitated demonstrations by blaming state workers for the budget problem.
Ridge says Pennsylvania public employees may need to contribute more for pensions and health benefits, but he’s quite comfortable with collective bargaining.
Now a paid advisor to the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Ridge also says Corbett shouldn’t rule out a severance or impact tax on natural gas drilling.
“There are some strong views within the legislature, which he may not share; but there’s inconvenience, there’s cost, it’s a natural resource and there ought to be some way… Some of the legislators and local government officials are going to raise, maybe not a straight severance tax, but the issue of a local impact fee; so be prepared to deal with that, Governor. That’s the only thing I’ll tell him,” he said.
Ridge hopes all these policy disputes could be handled with more civility.
“The challenge goes to the top, to the leadership of the parties at the state and national level. It’s how the national chairmen speak about each other. It’s about how the leaders in the House and Senate speak and refer to each other. It’s become far more personal, more inclined to be morally judgmental about other people’s point of view,” added Ridge. “They’ve got to tone down the rhetoric.”