Corbett v. Rendell: Who is Right on PA’s Economy?

In his acceptance speech Tuesday night, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett vowed to get Pennsylvania’s economy back on track after years of stagnation and misguide policy decisions. Gov. Rendell obviously took exception to that:

“As we say in Philadelphia, [Corbett] has a lot of ”splainin’ to do’ to back up that claim,” Rendell said. “He would have to explain why The Wall Street Journal says we are one of 10 states in the country that is fiscally stable …

“He would have to explain why the Pew Center on the States said that Pennsylvania is the third-highest state in the union in the production of green energy jobs,” Rendell said.

I doubt anyone in Philadelphia would actually say that, but here’s some “splainin'”: The Wall Street Journal piece was actually a story, not their own analysis, of another Pew Study. And the measures of “fiscal stability” Pew uses tell us little about Pennsylvania’s economy – indeed Pew gives PA a strong ranking because it is easier for lawmakers to raise taxes.

Rendell misuses Pew’s green jobs study just as badly. While Pew ranks Pennsylvania third in the number of “green jobs,” it also shows PA is 3rd in clean energy jobs lost and ranks sixth in total jobs lost. This despite millions in state subsidies for green jobs and mandates for alternative energy. Indeed, as CF has argued, policies to create “green jobs” harm the overall economy.

This comes on the heels of CEO Magazine ranking Pennsylvania as the 32nd best state for business, with category rankings equally, or more discouraging. This ranking is actually higher than many other independent rankings of Pennsylvania’s economic climate, including measures of interstate migration and on the ALEC-Laffer ranking of state economic competitiveness.