With Nod to Education, Wolf Thumps Corbett in Pennsylvania

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Democrat Tom Wolf is now the governor-elect of Pennsylvania after winning a battle against Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett.

According to Dan Gleiter of PennLive, Wolf told a crowd of supporters that it was time “to re-establish education as a priority in Pennsylvania.” He also noted that boosting job creation, taking advantage of natural resources, specifically gas and coal, and creating an open and inclusive field for everyone in the business sector are all on his list of priorities.

Since the state’s chief executive position has been changed to include two terms if re-elected, a move established four decades ago, Corbett is the first governor who has been defeated in a bid for a second term. Corbett did, however, stay in office for two terms as attorney general, but his four years as governor of Pennsylvania were rocky as he struggled to maintain his position as a fiscal and social conservative.

Corbett announced that he had called Wolf to congratulate him.

“When the history books are written in 10 or 15 years, my administration will be seen as one that brought back industry and transportation infrastructure, and made the state a leader in energy production.”

The Republican governor has said that he took office to do what was right for the state, whether people liked or not.

“Well, obviously they didn’t like it,” Corbett said at a downtown Pittsburgh hotel. “I said I might be a one-term governor, and I am, but I am proud of what we did.”

When Wolf takes office in January, he will likely face a Legislature that is predominately Republican, along with a substantial budget deficit, as he attempts to keep his promise to increase the state government’s share of public school costs.

The state must come together “to fund a world-class public education system, create family-sustaining jobs … build safe communities, and keep Pennsylvania beautiful,” Wolf said in remarks posted online before taking the stage at his election night rally.

Wolf, from Mount Wolf – named after an ancestor — is about to become Pennsylvania’s 47th governor, and is the first since Richard Thornburgh in 1979 to have never held an elected office. He is a businessman and an important figure in York County’s business, civic, and philanthropic arenas. He served in India as a member of the Peace Corps, is folksy and mild-mannered, earned a PhD from MIT, worked as revenue secretary for Gov. Ed Rendell, and both donated his salary and shared profits with employees at his cabinetry and building materials distribution business.

According to the Associated Press‘ Marc Levy, Wolf has attacked cuts in education funding and has been a vocal critic of the state’s relatively slow job creation rate.  He also won votes for promising to make the state’s thriving natural gas industry pay its “fair share” of taxes. He says he will restore the $1 billion that Corbett cut from education aid and restore scaled-back pension benefits for school and state employees even though the state has a huge pension debt.

Thomas Fitzgerald, writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, reports that Wolf’s running mate was State Sen. Mike Stack of Philadelphia, who says he may keep his seat in the Senate, but would not accept two salaries. Stack said:

“We need to invest in public education, or we are doomed.”