Tom Corbett isn't the flashiest or most charismatic governor in America. But I'm beginning to think he may be the dumbest:
Gov. Corbett toured a Malvern factory powered by state-of-the-art robotics Tuesday, then hit the automatic-reset button on a replay of the state university tuition wars that dominated the battle over his first budget proposal last year.
Corbett insisted to reporters during his tour of the high-tech Siemens Medical Solutions plant that his 2012-13 plan for a steep new cuts in state aid to higher education - including 30 percent less money to state-backed schools such as Pennsylvania State and Temple Universities - could be dealt with by reducing campus operating costs, not by raising tuition.
Let's think about this. Corbett is touring a manufacturing plant driven by robotics -- proof that the kind of assembly line jobs that once existed for high school grads have disappeared, and that our economy now needs college grads with math and science training to design these high-tech devices. And he chooses this as a venue to defend his jihad against public universities for the middle-class in Pennsylvania. Brilliant.
Corbett's right about one thing -- universities are bloated and inefficient, and smart cost-cutting is one part of the solution. But in the end Harrisburg needs to work with college administrators to pour any savings back into making higher education more affordable, not more expensive. If he really wanted to create jobs in the Keystone State, Corbett would push for efficiencies that would lower tuition -- not raise it -- and also bolster community colleges and vocational training. I guess Grover Norquist wouldn't sign off on that plan, unfortunately.
Corbett has more leeway in the budget than he lets on -- in some areas he's actually increasing spending. This is what's more important to the governor than sending Pennsylvania kids to college:
For instance, Corbett’s budget proposal provides $1 million in anticipation of a voter ID bill passing. This bill was introduced by state Republicans last year, but did not pass. It would have required that voters show a government-issued photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot. Critics argued that the bill would disenfranchise senior and minority voters.
Also, as we like to say here at the Daily News in front-page headlines...WTF?
Another area that gets more funding this year under Corbett's proposal is the state’s Alternatives to Abortion Services Program. The budget allocates more than $6 million to it, which is a slight boost from last year.
The relatively-unknown program, which is run by a contractor, funds counselors throughout the state who work to convince pregnant women not to have abortions. It is paid out of the Department of Public Welfare’s budget — which has otherwise seen massive cuts under the Corbett administration.
So the same conservatives who've been telling me we need less government spending and more personal freedom have no problem with spending millions in taxpayer dollars to tell women what to do about their pregnancies? That makes about as much sense as going to a company that needs smart college grads and defending your decimation of the state's universities. I guess this all makes the very existence of Tom Corbett Exhibit A for why we need to improve education in Pennsylvania. Severely.