ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A trio of Pennsylvania business leaders reiterated their groups' endorsement of Tom Corbett for governor on Tuesday, saying he would eliminate the state inheritance taxes, create a pro-business climate and restrain state spending.
The candidate, beaming as the trio spoke at a business-for-Corbett rally, agreed on all points.
"You are the job creators, not government," he told several dozen people inside a local GOP headquarters at a suburban Allentown shopping strip.
Corbett has taken a pledge not to raise any state taxes or fees as governor. He said he also planned to eliminate the state's inheritance tax, which he said "is devastating to the small businesses, and to the family farms, in particular."
The tax was amended in the 1990s to exempt property transfers between spouses. The rate also was reduced. Children now pay 4.5 percent on assets inherited from a parent; siblings pay 12 percent.
Kevin Shivers, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, hailed Corbett for promising to get rid of the tax entirely, saying it still forced many businesses and farms to be sold off just so that the inheritance levy can be paid.
He told the crowd of loyal Republican activists: "Beware of any candidate who promises to be for seniors citizens but says he's not going to eliminate death taxes . . . I am not going to name any names, but his initials are Dan Onorato."
Onorato, the Democratic nominee, took a verbal beating from several of the business leaders, who said he would continue the "tax and spend" policies of outgoing governor Ed Rendell.
Pat Conway, president of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, said that Onorato's imposition of a tax on alcoholic drinks as Allegheny County executive had cost county business "tens of millions of dollars."
Corbett, he said, would "foster a positive business climate that will allow job creators to create jobs."
Gene Barr, vice president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, said: "Tom Corbett knows that government doesn't create jobs or wealth."
Earlier Tuesday, in Wilkes-Barre, Corbett pledged to end what he said was eight years of wasteful state spending by Rendell and to restore Pennsylvania as a place where young people can find jobs and remain at home rather than having to go elsewhere.
"We need to bring fiscal discipline, we need to bring limited government," and "we need the private sector to grow the jobs," he said at a campaign rally in a downtown storefront that had been leased as a Luzerne County GOP headquarters.
Noting a series of scandals that have cast Luzerne County into a negative national spotlight - including charges that two county judges took cash bribes to send local youths to a private detention facility - Corbett promised to restore integrity to government.
Speaking of the current governor, he told several dozen supporters: "We are not going to be Ed Rendell. We are going to provide leadership, because we certainly haven't had leadership in the last eight years, in my opinion."
For a candidate running ahead in the polls, awash in campaign cash and full of confidence, it was a great day to be touring across Pennsylvania. The air was warm, the leaves were ablaze, and Corbett said he could feel the enthusiasm of pro-GOP voters.
But he told the Northeastern Pennsylvania supporters that it was up to them to help offset the advantage that Democratic nominee Onorato will have in the state's largest city, Philadelphia.
However, he added: "We are going to do well in Philadelphia. We are. We're going to surprise people."
Republican governors of three other states will join Corbett at rallies in eastern Pennsylvania this week.
Bob McDonell of Virginia and Haley Barbour of Mississippi will appear with Corbett in a public rally at 4:15 p.m. Thursday at the King of Prussia Volunteer Fire Company.
Governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Christopher J. Christie of New Jersey are scheduled to join Barbour and Corbett in a rally at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Reading airport. The group will then fly to the Lancaster airport, in Lititz, for an 11 a.m. rally the same day.