Rendell proudest of school investment, regrets signing pay raise

Looking back on eight years in office, Gov. Rendell today said he most proud of the major investments in education funding under his administration, but wishes he had never signed the ill-fated 2005 legislative pay raise.

Rendell, speaking 11 days before leaving office, responded to questions dating from his 2002 campaign promises to the current struggles of Tasty Baking in a broad-ranging interview with Capitol reporters here.

“We have achieved a great deal of the progressive agenda set forth in the 2002 campaign, said Rendell.

The two-term Democrat, who will be replaced by Republican Tom Corbett on Jan. 18, ticked off investments in economic development and alternative energy programs, improvements in classroom technology and test scores and the expansion of full-day kindergarten and children’s health coverage as his proudest achievements.

Rendell cited his signing of the 2005 pay raise bill as his biggest regret. The raises were approved in a middle-of-the-night vote without any public hearing or debate and the voter backlash cost dozens of lawmakers their jobs in the 2006 election. He said he bent too easily to pressures by legislators to sign the pay raise as part of a state budget deal.

Rendell said he was looking forward to finishing his memoirs, continuing his teaching at Penn and providing sports analysis on Comcast. To pay the rent, he said, he is still looking for a part-time gig as a TV news pundit and will do consulting work with several law firms.

But Rendell  has not checked out as governor yet. He said he was working to secure a state loan to help the financially embattled Tasty Baking Company “stay on its feet.”


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