To the sound of protests and drum beats that could be heard inside the Prince Music Theater, Gov. Corbett on Tuesday stuck to his message of budget austerity and no-new-taxes in a one-hour question-and-answer session hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Corbett repeated a folksy analogy to the business suit-and-tie audience, saying that state revenue amounted to an eight-inch pizza pie before the 2008 financial crisis. Now, he said, it's a six-inch pie "but with the same mouths to feed."
Higher education and public schools that receive taxpayer financing need to cut costs, Corbett told moderator Marty Moss-Coane, the host of Radio Times. "A Conversation with the Governor" will be broadcast on WHYY-FM on Thursday.
Corbett spoke easily and sounded familiar political themes as Moss-Coane asked questions on various topics. Regarding an asset test for food-stamp recipients, Corbett said he believed that those who receive the stamps should prove they are eligible for the benefit. He said he did not support gay marriage.
He did not prosecute a case of voter impersonation when he was attorney general but said he believed the new voter-ID law was common sense. The law requires voters to produce a photo identification at the polling location.
Corbett drew laughs when he referred to a comment former state House Democratic leaders Bill DeWeese made on Monday when DeWeese reported to prison for corruption. According to an Associated Press article, DeWeese said he would "make some new friends" in prison. As attorney general, Corbett indicted DeWeese and others. "He certainly will have the opportunity to meet a lot of new people there," Corbett said.
Several hundred protesters chanted and beat drums outside the afternoon event at the theater on the 1400 block of Chestnut Street. A man with a microphone called, "Gov. Corbett, you can't hide!" And the crowd responded, "We see your greedy side!"
Juanita Sanchez, director of the nonprofit Fight for Philly community organization, said, "Gov. Corbett continues to serve the interests of the one percent to the detriment of the poor and working class."
One pamphlet said that Corbett was building prisons while closing schools. Corbett said inside the theater that protesters should "get their facts straight" because he had canceled the construction of a prison in Western Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in February that the Corbett canceled a $200-million prison project in Fayette County but that other prison construction projects would proceed.