Cor­bett speaks with mem­bers of Blue Bell Ro­tary Club

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - LOCAL - By ERIC DEVLIN

WHIT­PAIN — Penn­syl­va­nia Gov. Tom Cor­bett made a stop in Blue Bell to speak with Ro­tar­i­ans about is­sues f ac­ing t he Com­mon­wealth.

The gov­er­nor at­tended the Ro­tary Lead­er­ship din­ner, at the Manor House, Prophecy Creek, 205 W. Skip­pack Pike, Jan. 29. The event was spon­sored by the Ro­tary Club of Blue Bell.

Twenty Ro­tary clubs, rep­re­sent­ing two Ro­tary dis­tricts from south­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, at­tended the din­ner, which ran from 5:30 to 9 p.m., to share their key lo­cal, re­gional, and in­ter­na­tional projects, and learn about the key is­sues that Cor­bett faces and his ef­forts to iden­tify so­lu­tions that pos­i­tively im­pact Penn­syl­va­nia com­mu­ni­ties.

“Your motto ‘ser­vice about self’ is one that many of us could use,” Cor­bett told the crowd. “It’s a di­rect motto and it’s very sim­ple. Yet when you think about it it’s very pro­found. When you con­sider the im­pact that Ro­tary has had, that each of you has had, that’s a re­sult of the ser­vice you give back to your com­mu­nity.”

He said Ro­tar­i­ans “honor the def­i­ni­tion of ser­vice” through the var­i­ous projects they un­der­take.

“You un­der­stand that pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions to the prob­lems that we face is the ul­ti­mate goal of ser­vice,” he said. “Do­ing what is best for your com­mu­ni­ties and tak­ing on the chal­lenges that we face as a state, even as hard as they are, your ideas from your mem­ber­ship in­spire peo­ple to vol­un­teer, be­come in­volved and maybe even to run for of­fice.”

Cor­bett then be­gan to ad­dress some of the cur­rent is­sues fac­ing the state, in­clud­ing the $4.2 bil­lion deficit.

“Any­body want to give me $4.2 bil­lion to fix the deficit?” he joked. “We didn’t ask you for it. I think that’s the im­por­tant thing, we did not raise taxes to make up that dif­fer­ence. We made tough de­ci­sions and we did not raise taxes — in fact, we re­duced taxes.”

Cor­bett said while there is still high un­em­ploy­ment, in the last month the coun­try’s un­em­ploy­ment rate had the big­gest drop since 1983.

“[Penn­syl­va­nia] is down to 6.9 [per­cent], a lit­tle higher than the na­tional av­er­age,” Cor­bett said. “But we’re con­tin­u­ing to grow jobs in Penn­syl­va­nia in the pri­vate sec­tor.”

He said the state has re­duced the size of state em­ploy­ees to the low­est level in 50 years while try­ing to find ways to en­cour­age the pri­vate sec­tor to grow.

To pro­mote the econ­omy, Cor­bett said the state elim­i­nated the in­her­i­tance tax for fam­ily farm­ers and small busi­nesses in or­der to pass a busi­ness to the next gen­er­a­tion.

Cor­bett then asked the crowd how many of them pay tax un­em­ploy­ment com­pen­sa­tion.

“You can all put your hands up,” he said to a laugh. “And all of you that are em­ployed ac­tu­ally pay money into un­em­ploy­ment com­pen­sa­tion… What we did though is we said, ‘we owe $4 bil­lion to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for un­em­ploy­ment com­pen­sa­tion money that was bor­rowed over the years.’ What did we do? We re­fi­nanced. We floated our bond, be­cause we were pay­ing over 4 per­cent in­ter­est. We floated our bond, we now pay 1.2 per­cent. We got the gov­ern­ment to say, ‘ here, go away.’ We saved ev­ery­one here money be­cause ev­ery year the re­duc­tion in those few taxes is $385 mil­lion to you, the tax pay­ers in Penn­syl­va­nia, ev­ery year for the next 20 years. That’s sav­ing money.”

Cor­bett said dur­ing his time in of­fice he worked to re­duce gov­ern­ment spend­ing, which he com­pared to prun­ing a rose bush for the first time in how “ugly” it looks at first. He said re­duc­ing spend­ing was nec­es­sary given the amount of rev­enue com­ing in.

“I will not spend more money than the rev­enue that comes into Penn­syl­va­nia, I will not do it,” he said. “I can tell you that didn’t make me real pop­u­lar with a lot of peo­ple. You may no­tice that. I’m not real pop­u­lar with the school union in the city of Philadel­phia, be­cause I said, ‘we don’t have that money.’ We had to cut, we had to prune. But I have to tell you, things are com­ing back bet­ter than ever. Our econ­omy is grow­ing.”

Cor­bett men­tioned drilling for nat­u­ral gas as a rev­enue source “we didn’t know we had,” that pro­vides thou­sands of jobs in the state,

Sev­eral area fire de­part­ments from Chester and Mont­gomery coun­ties are ben­e­fit­ting from more than $90,000 in state grants.

Rep . War­ren Kampf ( R— 157th D ist .) an­nounced the awards Mon­day and said he is happy to add state sup­port to th­ese lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The Friend­ship Div­ing Res­cue Unit, Phoenix Hose Hook and Lad­der Com­pany No. 1 and West End Fire Com­pany/EMS of Phoenixville were awarded more than in­clud­ing those from this area who are con­nected to those drilling projects like lawyers, insurance sales peo­ple and welders to name a few.

The big­gest prob­lem the state faces at the mo­ment is the pen­sion sys­tem, Cor­bett said.

“Any­body got an ex­tra $610 mil­lion they want to give us?” he joked again. “Be­cause that’s what we have to add to the bud­get this year just for the pen­sions. And $610 mil­lion next year, and next year and the next year. By 2017-18 $3.8 bil­lion is go­ing to be go­ing to the pen­sion sys­tem in Penn­syl­va­nia.”

Cor­bett said 62 cents of ev­ery new dol­lar goes to­wards pen­sions, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to pay for things like ed­u­ca­tion and other in­vest­ments.

“If you think we don’t want to in­vest in that, we do” he said. “But you heard that word in­vest­ment. We want to see a re­turn on that in­vest­ment. K through 12, higher ed. and more than higher ed., post sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion… but we can’t do that un­til we get the pen­sion sys­tem solved.”

Cor­bett also said he’d also like to in­vest $22.4 mil­lion for peo­ple with men­tal and phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity, who are cur­rently on a wait­ing list of 15,000 to re­ceive ser­vices from the state.

“If the pen­sion sys­tem is fixed,” he said. “I’d like to elim­i­nate that wait­ing list.”

Cor­bett said he thinks the state can tackle the pen­sion sys­tem this year, and hopes to see busi­nesses grow, in or­der for taxes to de­crease.

“I look for­ward to come back in my sec­ond term,” he ended by say­ing.

Also in at­ten­dance for the event was state Rep. Kate Harper, R-61, who said Ro­tary is an or­ga­ni­za­tion that has helped move the state for­ward.

“[It’s] great to be in a room full of peo­ple who value ser­vice above self,” she said. “Ro­tary clubs are im­por­tant be­cause they build com­mu­ni­ties and sus­tain com­mu­ni­ties.”

Harper said the com­mu­nity needed Ro­tar­i­ans more than ever be­cause “they help keep com­mu­ni­ties strong, and that keeps our com­mon­wealth strong and that keeps Amer­ica strong.”

Fol­low Eric Devlin on Twit­ter @Eric_Devlin.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.