Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato today seized on controversial comments about unemployed workers made last week by Republican opponent Tom Corbett, saying they were naive and "an insult" to hardworking Pennsylvanians.
At a Capitol stump speech this morning, Onorato said he “totally disagrees” with a statement by Corbett made during a campaign stop in Elizabethtown on Friday that “if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there."
Onorato said Corbett is blaming the victims of the recession.
"The problem is not with the workers," said Onorato. "It's that the jobs are all gone.'
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said the remarks were "miscontrued" and that Corbett knows there are people who are umployed who are "diligently" trying to find jobs.
Onorato said the bigger issue currently facing the state is not the cost of unemployment compensation, but the broader problem of a poor hiring climate.
He added that the unemployment benefits program is “a safety net and it’s limited.”
Onorato, the current Allegheny County Executive, called for business tax reform and swifter permitting to allow more business sites to be “shovel ready” for companies to build in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Republican Party spokesman Michael Barley said that comments like these are part of the “Onorato two-step,” which includes calling for reform while backing the direction Gov. Ed Rendell took in the last eight years.
Signs labeling Onorato as a “tax and spend” politician and a "Rendell-repeat" were held by a group of about 20 people that Barley said was organized by the Republican party.
Although the Republican sign bearers pounced on Allegheny County issues, like a tax on alcoholic beverages supported by Onorato, Barley could not confirm that any of those in the group were from Allegheny County.
Onorato, who rallied several dozen of his own supporters at the event, said if elected he would ensure complete transparency on those who receive funding from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). The latest version of the RACP, approved with virtually no notice a little more than a week ago, allows the governor to set aside nearly $300 million to spend on projects like the proposed university-based centers named for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).
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