Cuts to education were the focal point when Round Two commenced in the series of debates between embattled Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett and his Democratic challenger, businessman and political neophyte Tom Wolf.
Corbett defended himself from accusations by his opponent that he cut a billion dollars from education, blaming such cuts on the Rendell administration and what he called a “pension crisis,” calling Wolf’s charges a “lie.”
“You’re trying to convince the people of Pennsylvania that I cut education,” Corbett scolded Wolf before Wolf cut him off.
“You did,” Wolf said. “No I didn’t,” Corbett sniped.
“I’ve been in schools in Philadelphia where they can’t even afford toilet paper,” Wolf told Corbett. “You have not been a friend to education… Every administration faces problems. If education was a priority you’d work through those challenges.”
Wolf, who resisted Corbett’s attempts to draw him into heated exchanges during last week’s debate, was much more confrontational this time around.
When he accused Corbett of “cooking the books,” on budget numbers, Corbett asked Wolf if he was being accused of a criminal act.
“I’m accusing you of over estimating what the budget was going to be,” Wolf responded.
“Did you ever complain to Mr. Rendell when he did the same thing?” Corbett asked.
“I’m not sure he did the same thing,” said Wolf.
When Corbett said that 50% of businesses in Pennsylvania had a positive outlook, Wolf said he wasn’t sure what world Corbett was living in.
“We’ve been downgraded by three bond ratings companies,” Wolf claimed.
The Democrat also said he is better prepared to handle a divided statehouse and partisan gridlock in Harrisburg citing his insights and skills from business.
“I’ve never done anything to keep a seat warm,” he said. “You weren’t able to work with your own party members,” he told Corbett. “Surely, I can do better than that.”
Corbett struck a conciliatory tone by acknowledging that he was presented with a great number of difficulties that he didn’t expect.
“I understand it better now,” Corbett said. “I understand the challenges.”