PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett defended his budget in Pittsburgh Friday.
He says that for the past few years, the state has been spending more than it has taken in.
“The budget that we’re operating under right now is underwater – it seems to be an appropriate term right now here in Pittsburgh,” he said.
Corbett said school districts have to cut budgets and freeze salaries – not raise property taxes.
“The teachers, the school administrators, the school employees across Pennsylvania – it’s a tough year, take a freeze,” he said. “If they all take a freeze, that’s $400 million.”
Corbett said it was not unfair to treat Marcellus Shale corporations better by not taxing them or reducing business taxes.
It’s all about jobs, he said.
“Are you going to start a business, come to Pennsylvania when other states have a much better business tax climate to go to?” Corbett said.
The governor disputed paying his staff more than his predecessor and he wouldn’t tell the legislators to take a pay cut or pay for benefits.
“That’s their decision,” Corbett said.
KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano: “You’re leaving it up to them? You’re not going to tell them to?”
Corbett: “I can’t tell them to do it. You know that.”
Reporter: “You could put it in your budget address, no?”
Corbett: “Jon, you know I can’t tell them to do it. Put on your political hat.”
But Corbett reserved his strongest words for universities like Penn State for threatening tuition increases.
“They’ve got $3.5 billion. Why would you put it on the backs … of the students and scare the students and the parents without saying, ‘Wait a second. That means we have to cut 4 percent – not 50 percent – 4 percent of our operating budget. Let’s go see if we can do that first before we start talking about tuition increases.’”
Corbett, a member of the board of directors at Penn State, criticized the fact that the next board meeting for the university is going to be held in New York City at the Helmsley Hotel, suggesting of course, this was another way Penn State could cut dollars instead of raising tuition.