Gov. Corbett on Approving Arlen Specter Library Funds: ‘I Felt I Had To’
Gov. Tom Corbett is finally getting around to that campaign promise he made regarding the wasteful Arlen Specter library. Problem is, he’s on the other side of the issue now. Sorta.
“I did approve the Specter library,” he told reporters in Harrisburg this week. “I wish I didn’t have to, but I felt I had to.”
Remember the Arlen Specter library? No? Then let’s review.
It seems so far away now, but at the end of his tenure in Harrisburg, then-Gov. Ed Rendell was being a dick. His 2011 budget cost $28 billion and partially relied on funding from the U.S. Senate. In it, he proposed cutting Pennsylvania library funding by nine percent and chopping 1,001 government employees from the block. Sad, yes! But not all was lost, because Rendell somehow figured out a way to slip $20 million into that budget for two buildings that’d basically be the equivalent of your dad’s baseball card collection.
One would be dedicated to then-Senator, now-comedian Arlen Specter and would be housed at Philadelphia University on Henry Avenue; the other would be for the late Rep. John Murtha—America’s Worst Congressman—at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Both would contain “memorabilia.”
This made for some creative campaign fodder by the Tom Corbett campaign, who released an ad telling Pennsylvanians to think of that specific funding the “next time you hear we have to raise taxes because there’s nothing left to cut.”
The conservative Commonwealth Foundation piled on, too. President Matt Brouillette rhetorically asked in the Inky, “Why in the heck are we putting money into an Arlen Specter library when the man has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in his lifetime as a politician?”
Rendell defended the funds. “It’s just a good construction project. It’s necessary. Philadelphia University, I know about it. I don’t live far from the campus. They could use an expansion and the Specter library will help them do just that,” he said.
Then Tom Corbett got elected governor. A bunch of things happened (most notably: Hurricane Irene), and now, just over a year into his term, while cutting tons of state services and getting all Jigsaw Killer on women’s rights, he’s signing off on partial funding of the Specter Library, which no one will ever go to, because really, what would be the point?
“The paperwork was all legal on that,” Corbett said, defending his decision while slamming the former Governor for creating the debacle. “It was a commitment by a prior governor and from what I understand…[Philly U] had spent the money already and [were] waiting for the money to come in. The governor made that commitment to them. There was nothing illegal about it. Politically, I didn’t agree with it, but I felt I had to keep his promise. You won’t see those kinds of promises or those kinds of projects from me.”