Wolf takes shots at Corbett over Pa. credit downgrade

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Monday’s credit downgrade from Moody’s Investors Services, a move widely seen as indicative of a sluggish economy and poor budgets, was wielded by Tom Wolf on Tuesday as vindication of his argument that Gov. Tom Corbett has hurt the state’‍s economy.

Mr. Wolf, the Democratic nominee for governor, called the downgrade a “verdict on the lack of management and leadership in Pennsylvania.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Corbett, a Republican, said the rating downgrade was the result of a pension crisis, and accused Mr. Wolf of neither taking the pension issue seriously nor having a plan to address it.

The report did mention “below average” economic growth, along with growing pension liabilities and one-time budget fixes.

“To me, Pennsylvania is the last place that should be suffering a bond downgrade. We have so many resources, there is so much capacity for so many good things,” Mr. Wolf said after a tour of TechShop on the city’s East End. “This should be a state that is humming with economic activity.”

When it came to his own budgetary plans, Mr. Wolf repeated his plan to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and impose a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas companies.

He also mentioned his intent to make Pennsylvania’s flat income tax, currently 3.07 percent, more progressive by raising the level of income that is exempted from the tax while also increasing the rate — a move he says will result in a tax cut for middle class Pennsylvanians.

“I’‍m still working out the mathematics. I don’t have access to the estimates as to what different rates would provide, given different levels of exemption,” he said.

He also declined to go into specifics about the pension issue, which has become the centerpiece of Mr. Corbett’‍s campaign in recent weeks.

Mr. Wolf said the sale of pension obligation bonds is one possibility, along with “a number of innovative ideas floating around Harrisburg.”

“I’m not going to kick the can down the road anymore. That’‍s my promise,” he said.

TechShop — the membership-based, high-tech workshop in Bakery Square — is becoming something of a must-see for politicians. President Barack Obama toured the shop, located across the street from new Google offices, in late June.

Mr. Wolf touted American manufacturing and spoke about the Wolf Organization, the family-founded kitchen cabinet company of which he was CEO, which manufactured its products in the United States.

“What I found is that we can actually make stuff and go head to head with the Chinese on pricing and quality right here in the United States,” he said.

The state Republican Party was quick to attack Mr. Wolf’s visit to TechShop, with communications director Megan Sweeney blasting him in a statement.

“Tom Wolf conveniently forgets to tell voters how he willingly shipped jobs out of Pennsylvania,” she said, referring to the fact that some of the company’‍s manufacturing takes place in Alabama, Florida, Texas and New Jersey.

The Wolf campaign confirmed that the company is “headquartered in York, Pa., and does business throughout the United States,” but does not outsource to other countries.

Matt Nussbaum, mnussbaum@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1504 or on Twitter @MatthewNussbaum. First Published July 22, 2014 12:00 AM

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