A new Democratic political action committee is launching a 30-second TV ad attacking Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) for cuts in state education spending, taking aim at what polls show is one of the incumbent’s greatest vulnerabilities.
PA Families First is spending just under $2 million to air the ad on broadcast and cable outlets in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Johnstown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia media markets.
The independent-expenditure PAC, registered in Pennsylvania, enjoys backing from the Democratic Governors Association, AFSCME, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. It is not allowed to give money directly to a candidate or political party, and cannot coordinate expenditures with them.
In Corbett’s first budget, the state share of basic schools funding was cut about $1 billion, forcing cutbacks in local districts and property-tax increases. Corbett says that the loss of federal stimulus money, which had been used to patch together the previous budget, is to blame and notes that he has since increased state funding.
Democrats and education groups note that a large part of the increased money is for school-employee pensions rather than instructional programs, and say that Corbett should back a production tax for the booming natural-gas drilling industry in the state.
"Wolf has been bought and paid for by the public sector union bosses...to ignore the need for pension reform in Pennsylvania," said Chris Pack, communications director for Corbett's reelection campaign.
The ad features a woman who says she is “living paycheck to paycheck” and paying higher taxes while huge corporations avoid paying their fair share.
“Pennsylvania’s families cannot afford four more years of Tom Corbett,” said the PAC’s political consultant, Kevin Washo.
Democratic nominee Tom Wolf, leading by around 20 percentage points in the latest polls, has also received air cover from the NextGen PAC affiliated with billionaire hedge-fund mogul Tom Steyer. Meanwhile, Wolf’s campaign itself has yet to launch general-election campaign ads.