Governor Corbett packed more than thirty people onto the Capitol Media Center’s stage this afternoon to promote his proposed $1.65 billion Shell tax break.
Most of the event’s content mirrored what we’ve been hearing from the Administration for the past two weeks. Here’s what was new:
- Corbett hinted the $2.10-per-barrel ethane tax break – which adds up to $66 million-a-year – could change. (Given legislative skepticism over the proposal, the figure is more likely to go down than up.)
- The governor says he trusts the American Chemistry Council’s claim of 17,000 new jobs is based on, but the Department of Labor and Industry is working on its own study. L&I Secretary Julia Hearthway said the state report isn’t finalized yet. “We want to make sure [the figures] are accurate,” she said. “We check and double-check and triple-check, and we’re not there yet.” She did say that preliminary results are “in line” with the ACC’s claims.
- Corbett also defended himself against criticism that a multi-billon dollar tax break for one of the largest companies in the world is a jarring contrast to the budget cuts he’s been pushing for the last two years. “I’m looking at five years from now and thereafter,” he said. “This has no effect on the budget today. And unfortunately, we’re in a very difficult budget time right now.” He pushed back against the argument the tax break is a corporate giveaway, saying, “They think we’re giving money to them. No we’re not. What we’re saying is, you build it. You provide all these jobs for all these people. And we’ll take a little less money for you, so we have more money for us.”
Here’s video of Corbett’s Q&A. (The camera angle is off-kilter for the first minute, but I fixed the shot after that.)