A look at the health and wealth of Pennsylvania's budget

Billionaire Terry Pegula, a big Corbett contributor.
Billionaire Terry Pegula, a big Corbett contributor.
Posted: March 09, 2011

Lorrie Levitsky was a loser in Pennsylvania's budget wars even before Gov. Corbett officially released his draconian spending plan yesterday.

For close to a decade, the 56-year-old Levitsky - a restaurant worker in the VIP Diamond Club at Citizens Bank Park when it's baseball season, but unemployed when it's not - was one of 40,000 low-income Pennsylvanians receiving health insurance through adultBasic.

Last week, state officials let the program - in which a single woman like Levitsky could buy coverage for $36 a month - die, saying there was no money to continue it even as another 500,000 were on a waiting list to join.

Levitsky, who lives in the Art Museum area and once worked as a City Council aide, didn't want to discuss her health in detail but said adultBasic had paid for several procedures over the years. She said she has no coverage for now and isn't sure what she'll do between now and 2014, when federal health care is slated to expand. She's received insurance-price quotes between $200 and $500 a month.

"I think the money should be appropriately funded toward that need - toward the basics in life," she said. "The politicians, they don't care. They're all set in life. They don't care about the little people. That's the bottom line."

No one gave more to Corbett for his 2010 campaign than natural-gas drilling billionaire Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim, who took out their checkbooks several times to give the GOP candidate $305,000.

And arguably no one was a bigger winner yesterday in Corbett's spending plan than Pegula - who reportedly made $3 billion last year when he sold his Pennsylvania-based East Resources to Royal Dutch Shell - and his friends in the business of drilling deep under the Marcellus Shale.

Not only did Corbett passionately defend his decision not to tax gas drilling - even though that's done in all other 14 of the top 15 gas-producing states - but he pledged to make Pennsylvania "the Texas of the natural-gas boom."

Pegula didn't return a phone call Monday to his office near Boca Raton, Fla.

So it wasn't clear if he was down in Boca at his $4.75 million golf-club home yesterday - or perhaps in upstate New York, where he spent $175 million just last month to buy the Buffalo Sabres hockey team.

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