PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It was a friendly crowd for Governor Corbett.
His first debate with challenger Tom Wolf was in front of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, a group that endorsed Corbett last December.
But Wolf, a businessman, tried to make his case.
“I am an unconventional candidate. I understand that. I don’t look like candidates you’ve probably seen before,” Wolf told the audience.
The debate quickly turned to familiar issues — like education.
“The cut to education occurred in the administration before me,” said Corbett. “But Mr. Wolf’s supporters and the public sector teacher unions have spent millions of dollars putting out the lie that I cut education. I didn’t.”
But Wolf insisted that’s not the facts.
“Twenty-seven thousand educators have lost their jobs,” said Wolf. “We see class sizes that have increased. Property taxes have gone through the roof.”
But the Democrat side-stepped questions on how much money should be spent on education.
“We need to do a good job across the commonwealth to make sure that we have people with the skills that are relevant to a 21st century economy,” noted Wolf. “How much will that take? I do not know.”
On another hot issue, despite the gas tax, Corbett asserted he did not raise taxes.
“We’ve kept taxes down. We did not raise taxes,” said Corbett.
But he refused to repeat his no-tax pledge for a second term.
Moderator: “The no-tax pledge — you’ve not taken that for this four-year term — is that off the table?”
Corbett: “I think my record speaks for itself. Now we’ve had discussions. I think senator . . . “
Moderator: “Is that a yes or a no?”
Corbett: “That’s my answer.”
Wolf said the state tax system needs to be fairer — with millionaires like him taxed more — but he would not say who should pay more taxes and suggested some should pay less.
“The middle class has not had a tax break in Pennsylvania in 20 years,” noted Wolf. “Our property tax payers — businesses and families — our families are paying too much in property taxes.”
But the governor pressed Wolf for specifics.
“I think it’s time Mr. Wolf share his plans.”
No real knock-outs in this debate — although many thought the governor was more combative than Wolf.
That’s hardly a surprise, given that he’s trailing in the polls.
Wolf emphasized that the state is not in good shape and that it was time for a change — and that he, as a businessman, knew how to make things happen.
Corbett insisted that he was making a difference as governor.
The election is six weeks from today.
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