'Applause signs' at budget address

Gov. Corbett concludes his fourth budget address in the state Capitol, Tuesday, February 4, 2014. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )

Remember in the early days of live TV how studio audiences would be prompted to applaud by big flashing signs reading "Applaud?"

Well, it's sort of like that at political speechs such as the President's State of the Union Address or Gov. Corbett's state budget address. There are certain issues and certain lines that serve as those applause signs.

When Corbett delivered his budget speech Tuesday in the state House chamber he was interrupted by applause (mostly from Republicans) 33 times. It was a 39-minute speech.

What got the GOPers (and in some cases Democrats) going?

Well, the loudest applause came for yet another call to dump State Stores, always a crowd pleasure.

When the governor said, with apparent real interest, "We have to reform our antiquated system of state-owned liquor stores," you would have thought he just announced increases for lawmakers' per diems.

And when he added a version of an old, stale line that every advocate of ending State Stores has used over the past 40 years -- "Let's make 2014 `last call' for state-controlled liquor in Pennsylvania" -- it was as if they just heard Lindbergh landed safely in Paris.

People, as in guests Corbett introduced or the "people of Pennsylvania" he referred to more than once, got the most applause (7), with specific proposed increases for education programs coming in second (5) and the rest widely spread around.

The line most often repeated in the speech, "building a stronger Pennsylvania," drew applause the first two times he said but then, I guess, enough was enough. They sat on their hands the next three times.

Surefire applause-getters? "We have not raised taxes in three years" and "I propose an additional $1 million to honor our ever-expanding veteran's population" and "Our children come first."

So, note to future speechwriters: come up with a program and some language focused on the children of veterans not paying taxes. The crowd'll go wild.