Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania Governor, Sinks To 36 Percent Approval Amid Austerity Measures

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's cuts to education funding and proposed credits for chemical refiners has sent his approval rating into a swoon. Just 36 percent of Pennsylvanians approved of the Republican governor's job performance this month, down from his all-time high of 50 percent in September, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

Corbett supports a tax credit for chemical refiners that would cost his state more than $1.7 billion over 25 years starting in 2017. At the same time, he has cut $1 billion in funding to public schools and universities.

Democrats are capitalizing on growing discontent. “We’ve already given away the store to the Marcellus Shale industry," state Rep. Phyllis Mundy (D-Luzerne County) told the Herald-Mail. "Now we’re proposing to give away billions of tax dollars?”

Although the tax credits are projected to bring jobs to Pennsylvania, Corbett's deep cuts in social spending have left him politically vulnerable. Tribe Live News reported that an ad from the American for Working Families political action committee accused Corbett of "Making it harder for our middle class."

Shell has the most to gain from $1.7 billion dollar tax credit proposal, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. "Because Shell likely would have no state tax liability, it could sell up to $66 million in tax credits a year to companies that use its byproducts as a way to encourage a local chemical manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania," the magazine reported, citing lawmakers briefed on the plan. The credit would lead to an estimated 12,400 manufacturing and construction jobs, the magazine said.

Corbett said the tax credit is part of the "re-industrialization of the state," according to the the Intelligencer. He also warned that Ohio and West Virginia are trying to lure Shell away from Pennsylvania.

According to the Herald-Mail, "Lawmakers roundly point to what they view as Corbett’s mystifying detachment: They expect him, as they have with previous governors, to mount a town-to-town and, in the statehouse, office-to-office campaign to drum up support for his agenda." This has yet to occur.

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