Corbett wins...the enmity of the General Assembly

BRADLEY C. BOWER / ASSOCIATED PRESS Gov. Corbett gave his John Hancock to the state budget yesterday. He's using millions to work on pension reform, an issue state voters say isn't a crisis, poll shows.
BRADLEY C. BOWER / ASSOCIATED PRESS Gov. Corbett gave his John Hancock to the state budget yesterday. He's using millions to work on pension reform, an issue state voters say isn't a crisis, poll shows.
Posted: July 11, 2014

G OV. CORBETT has discovered the one thing Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature can agree on:

Their mutual dislike for him.

Corbett yesterday signed into law the $29.1 billion 2014-15 state budget approved by legislators 10 days ago, but used his line-item veto power to carve out $65 million - 19.7 percent - from the Legislature's $330 million budget and another $7.2 million in other legislative spending.

Corbett is using that combined $72.2 million cut as leverage to force the state House and Senate to return from summer break to work on pension reform.

Five times in a news conference yesterday Corbett complained about lobbying by public-sector unions that oppose his pension plans. At no point did Corbett note that the Republicans, his own political party, control both legislative chambers and have not rallied to his side on the issue.

The Legislature now has three options: override Corbett's line-item veto with a two-thirds vote in each chamber, live with his cuts to their spending or fall in line with him on pension reform.

Judging from the legislative response, Corbett's summer just went from bad to worse.

Consider what they said:

* Senate Republicans: " We are disappointed that the governor has not, to date, been able to work effectively with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate to address important issues impacting our state."

* House Republicans: " The governor's actions today seem to us to be about politics and not the hard work of governing."

* Senate Democrats: " The budget, and his actions, are politically driven and do not solve problems."

* House Democrats: " The governor is simply unwilling to face the reality that his policies have not worked and his time is up."

Corbett trails Tom Wolf, the Democratic nominee for governor, by 20 points or more in recent polling. He desperately needs a political win before the Nov. 4 general election.

Consider the video Corbett's campaign posted online soon after yesterday's news conference.

That video slams Wolf for saying the pension issue is not a crisis for the state budget.

Here's Corbett's problem: The state's voters also don't see the pension issue as a crisis, at least compared with other issues.

A Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll last week showed voters ranked education, the economy, the state's job market and taxes as more important to them when selecting a governor than the budget or pensions.

That poll showed Wolf leading Corbett 47 to 25 percent with 27 percent of voters undecided. Just one in four voters in the poll said Corbett deserves re-election.

"This really is his last stand," Franklin & Marshall pollster G. Terry Madonna said of Corbett's pension-reform gambit. "What else does he have to fight with?"

The General Assembly has $150 million in budget reserves.

Corbett yesterday said they refused to dip into that to help close the state's $1.5 billion deficit.

Madonna said Corbett's move doesn't give him the leverage he needs with legislators.

"They could override that veto pretty easily," he said. "Or they could just leave it alone."

Ken Trujillo staffs up

Ken Trujillo is staffing up for a likely run for mayor next year.

Trujillo, who we hear will announce his plans before Labor Day, issued a statement yesterday saying he "assembled a top-flight team of campaign professionals to help me lead a serious conversation with the people of Philadelphia about our future."

Trujillo, a Democrat and former city solicitor under Mayor John Street, last year set up a political-action committee and hired political consultant Ken Snyder, who worked for former Gov. Ed Rendell and former state Sen. Vince Fumo.

Trujillo has now added Hilltop Public Solutions and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for campaign consulting and polling.

Those firms worked last year on Bill de Blasio's successful run for mayor of New York City.

Bill Hyers of Hilltop managed Mayor Nutter's first campaign for mayor in 2007.

Trujillo has also hired as political director Jane Slusser, a veteran of President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns in Pennsylvania, and as finance director Vaughn Ross, who worked on the 2012 reelection campaign of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

Speaking of 2015 . . .

Doug Oliver, Nutter's press secretary from January 2008 to September 2010, is mulling a run for mayor as a Republican.

Oliver, who switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 2012, told us he has met with state Rep. John Taylor, the Republican City Committee's chairman, and Joe DeFelice, the party's executive director.

"Right now, I work for a quasi-public entity and as such I'm focused on doing everything I can here," said Oliver, senior vice president for marketing and corporate communications at PGW.

Nutter has been stymied by City Council in his bid to sell the utility for $1.86 billion to UIL Holdings Corp. in Connecticut.


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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