Tom Corbett – A Retrospective

Posted by By at 19 September, at 12 : 35 PM Print

December 1, 2018

In 2010, the voters of Pennsylvania loudly voiced their support for the cause of reform by electing Tom Corbett to as their Governor.  As we approach the final days of the Corbett Administration, let’s take a look at the impressive accomplishments of the last eight years which have transformed Pennsylvania from a nationwide laughing stock into a veritable role model for the national reform movement.

While we heard whispers of what was to come during his first term, it was only after his re-election over some guy in jail, in which the voters sounded a ringing endorsement of his policies by a margin of 51% – 49%, that the hero of “Bonusgate” began the process of putting the Commonwealth’s government where it belonged – back in the hands of the people…who could afford it.  (CEO’s are people, too, you know?)  So let’s take a look at that second term – perhaps the most prosperous four years in Pennsylvania’s history.

January, 2015:  At his second inauguration, Corbett reportedly vows to “rein in our bloated government”.  We have no official record of the remarks since the event was held at charter school magnate Vahan Gureghian’s mansion, rather than the Capitol, and the media was not notified of the date until after the ball.  But that’s what Kevin Harley said he said, so it must be true.  This is the last time Corbett is seen in public.

March, 2015: In the first budget of his second term, Corbett proposes a consolidation of the PA Court System with the prison system, claiming the cost savings would be substantial.  When questioned about issues related to separation of powers, a Corbett spokesman responds, “Where do you think we are? Washington?”  The Governor is unavailable for comment.

November, 2015: Its budget engorged by the merger with the courts, the Department of Corrections begins acquiring land for new facilities at discount rates by purchasing the property of farmers already leasing to gas drillers.  Construction immediately begins on state-of-the-art prison facilities, creating a flood of new construction jobs.

March, 2016: Fresh off his financial successes of the prior year, Corbett proposes a budget in which the prison system would be merged with the Department of Agriculture, reasoning that it is justified because all the new prisons are on old farms.

April, 2016: Responding to questions related to the alleged beating death of an elderly, disabled man by two of his cabinet members after a bad shoe-shine, a Corbett spokesman says the investigation is “ongoing”.

September, 2016: Corbett signs a bill which would permit drillers to drill without purchasing leases on state-owned former farms – as long as they agree to also place a prison on the property.  The legislation makes up for the lost revenue by eliminating the Department of Probation and Parole.  “The Governor has always believed that stuff is overrated, anyway,” a spokesman explains at a Gubernatorial press conference.  The Governor is unavailable for comment.

December, 2016: Corbett signs a multi-billion dollar contract with Gureghian’s Charter School Management to provide educational services for the state’s already-enormous-and-rapidly-growing inmate population.  The contract is paid for through the elimination of the Department of Education.

March, 2017: Its funding already reduced to the level where it can offer no services except providing food stamps for hospice patients, the Department of Public Welfare is unceremoniously merged with the Department of Corrections.

October, 2017: Recognizing Pennsylvania has developed the largest and best educated prisoner population in the nation, Corbett signs into law legislation permitting the drillers to reduce costs by utilizing the prisoners on state-owned prison/farms as free labor.  The revenue lost to the state by the significant reduction in taxpayers the legislation creates is made up for by the sale of the Department of Transportation to a private company.  “Wait until they see what the gas trucks have done to their roads,” Corbett is reported to have giggled to a colleague during the private signing ceremony which is held in Vahan Gureghian’s luxurious powder room.

March, 2018: In his final budget, Corbett satisfies all outstanding debt owed by the Commonwealth by selling the Department of Corrections to gas drillers.  The drillers are attracted by the prospect of a permanent free labor force and happily pay the Commonwealth several billion dollars to close the deal, fearing other politicians they haven’t paid off will take over and the prisoners will all end up working in casinos.

October, 2018: In the administration’s final Gubernatorial address to the people of Pennsylvania – presented before the Legislature by Tom Ridge – Corbett’s record of accomplishment is reviewed and quantified.  In only eight short years, he has all-but eliminated poverty, provided educational opportunities never previously available to many of our poorest citizens, eliminated all debt and reduced the bloated government to a size that can fairly serve the people he believes it is meant to serve.  “It has been Governor Corbett’s pleasure,” Ridge says, “to help make Pennsylvania into a state where the prosperous can prosper and not have to deal with all those other people.”

In an unrelated announcement, Attorney General Linda Kelly says the Bonusgate investigation is “ongoing”.

Photo by Adam Jones


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Terry was employed for fifteen years as the District Office Manager for State Representative Frank LaGrotta. During that time, he organized and led campaigns which halted the construction of a high-voltage electric transmission line, a natural gas pipeline and a landfill. In 2007, before the term “Bonusgate” had been coined, Terry approached the Attorney General’s office with crucial information related to crimes committed within the caucus and he was the first witness to testify before the Western Pennsylvania Grand Jury. The information led to the conviction of his former employer, who received a reduced sentence for cooperating with investigators examining the activities of members of caucus leadership. For the last three years, Terry has worked in various capacities for Democracy Rising PA and presently serves as the Research Director. He is in the process of completing a novel which relates the story of his career in the corrupt world of Pennsylvania politics in a science fiction genre because, he says, if he presented it as fact, no one outside Pennsylvania would ever believe him. Interested publishers may querie. - Email Terry Shaffer

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