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Ad Watch: Claims in Pennsylvania governor's race

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 31, 2014 at 11:47 am •  Published: July 31, 2014
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A look at key claims being made in TV ads that are being aired in Pennsylvania's campaign for governor ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

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THEME: PA Families First attacks Republican Gov. Tom Corbett; PA Families First is a coalition of the Democratic Governors Association and several major labor unions.

TITLE: "Paycheck."

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: TV stations in most Pennsylvania markets starting July 22.

KEY CLAIM: "Gov. Tom Corbett cut nearly a billion from education, forcing school districts to fire 20,000 teachers and staff. ... His education cuts forced local governments to raise property taxes all while he refused to make the oil and gas industry pay their fair share."

ANALYSIS: The ad goes back to Corbett's first budget in 2011 that reduced the state's overall operating budget by almost $1.2 billion. An AP analysis found that about $860 million, or more than 10 percent, was cut from operations and instruction in school districts, although the state's school employee pension payment more than doubled to $600 million.

Corbett insists he did not cut aid to schools; rather, he says, the money that schools lost resulted from the expiration of $2.6 billion in federal recession aid. Critics say Corbett did not try to raise taxes or find one-time sources of money to offset the loss in federal funding. The budget Corbett signed cut an estimated $400 million from business taxes that year and left the state with $660 million in cash on hand.

On the claim about firing teachers and staff, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 313,300 employees in local government educational services in Pennsylvania in January 2011, Corbett's first month in office. A year later there were 295,500 and the year after that, in January 2013, there were 290,300. In January 2014, it estimated there were 281,700. It is not clear if every public school job lost over that period can be traced to a drop in state aid, although the drop-off came after a long, steady increase in public school employment. The job losses might also include a shift of certain public school employees, like cafeteria workers, to private contractors, according to the statistics office.

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