For two years, Gov. Tom Corbett has been trimming Pennsylvania's deficit with tight budgets, no tax increases and a hard line on some education and human services programs.
He's been putting into place a plan to generate jobs and opportunities, particularly regarding the gas drilling industry. What does that get him?
Some early hints that Democrats buoyed by slight gains in the Senate during the recent election are going to make Corbett's life as governor more difficult in the next two years.
If Corbett hopes to get re-elected in two years, he will have to negotiate some choppy waters. The state's public pension system faces an evergrowing underfunding crisis. Most political observers think all that can be cut from the state budget has been cut. And the newly-elected Democratic attorney general and auditor general are promising hard questions regarding the Jerry Sandusky scandal that began while Corbett was attorney general and a tough audit examination of the governor's programs.
Our recommendation would be that Corbett push hard to privatize the state-controlled liquor store system and use the funding generated from sale of the licenses for public schools and the transportation system.
While a bid to privatize the system failed in the House, the general public favors the concept and Corbett taking the lead on it might produce the momentum to get it done.
The state has transportation funding needs that can't be met without a new source of revenue and taking a portion of the liquor store sales and putting them in the public school system would placate a group that believe it has been shortchanged in the first half of Corbett's term.
In a speech Monday, Corbett indicated he has plans to address the liquor store system, pensions and transportation needs.
Republican governors in Pennsylvania tend to be more fiscally responsible than their Democrat counterparts and usually take a political beating for it. In Corbett's case, nobody wants to remember his predecessor increased the state's budget spending by 36 percent over eight years, sending the state dangerously into debt.
Corbett must continue the solid budget track record he has established while making peace with those feeling left out of his priorities, all the while beginning a solution to the state's transportation and pension needs.