Conversation with Corbett
On Point with Chris Papst
If I could change one thing about my job, it would be how much time I get per story. A television news broadcast, minus commercials, is about 22 minutes. As a reporter, I get roughly two of those minutes. There is an old saying in this business: It's not what you include in your story, it's what you leave out. And since I only have 120 seconds, I have to leave out a lot – some of it important.
I believe this becomes most problematic when media covers politics. Reporters have to find a way to get the candidate's message across quickly and clearly. But in doing so, much is omitted. And when the topic is as complex as many political issues are, the viewer is often left with an incomplete narrative.
With that in mind, I recently got the chance to meet and interview Governor Tom Corbett. Pennsylvania's 46th Governor has only been in office for a few months. But in that time, he has proposed some drastic budgetary cuts which have garnered plenty of media attention. In meeting him, my goal was to clearly define his stance on two main issues: Education and Marcellus Shale. These topics seem to create the most conversations, and I wanted him to justify his policies so I could relay them to you.
As far as education is concerned, the governor feels our current system is not working, and he wants to try something different. His argument is - we are failing too many students and we have to give them and their districts more options. That is why he favors a voucher system and limiting teacher tenure to emphasize merit. He also wants to cut Harrisburg's influence on schools, allowing them to tailor an approach that best fits their students.
The governor also tried to correct what he called a misconception concerning his budget and education. He says a large chunk of his education cuts are more the result of decreases in federal funding than cuts in state funding. But overall, he said we can't keep throwing money at the problem and expect it to get better. We have to be accountable and find a better way.
The other main issue concerns the natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale. Some people want Corbett to place a tax on the drilling companies, which he is against. In full disclosure, he did admit to receiving a lot of campaign money from the shale companies. But he said his objection to the tax is based on principles. The governor doesn't believe in levying special taxes on specific companies. He equated it to placing a tax on chocolate because Hershey's makes too much money.
Speaking of tax revenue, he pointed to the taxes the state is already collecting from shale. Not only are the companies paying existing taxes (sales and corporate), but they are creating thousands of jobs in PA which adds to the treasury. He also pointed to statistics that show in the first four months of 2011, the state generated $199 million in corporate income tax from the shale companies. In all of last year, he said the state took in $98 million.
“The reason everybody is driving for a tax right now is because [we are] $4.2 billion in the hole. We need to find money. We need to find jobs for Pennsylvanians in an industry that will spread across Pennsylvania,” said the Governor.
Corbett said he is not the type of person to kick the can down the road. And he won't. He will make tough decisions. So, get ready.
Of course, there are other sides to these issues, but this is where the governor stands. You can agree with him. You can disagree with him. And this time, I did my best not to leave out anything important.
Chris Papst is a two-time Emmy Award winning reporter for CBS-21 news. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @chrispapst.