Michael Reagan

Be careful, Pennsylvania people.

You can't afford to blow it this fall.

Your great state is, I'm sorry to say, already not so great when it comes to fiscal solvency.

Don't make it worse by dumping your Republican governor, Tom Corbett.

Despite the Marcellus Shale boom that's turned Pennsylvania into the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, the Keystone State's current fiscal condition is almost as dire as New Jersey's.

According to a recent Mercatus Center study of every state's ability to balance its budgets and still pay for health care and pension costs, Pennsylvania is ranked No. 42. Jersey (50), Illinois (48) and New York (45) are worse, but that's no consolation.

Pennsylvania - where I was earlier this month giving a speech to a conservative leadership conference near Harrisburg - can't afford to lose Gov. Corbett.

The unflashy, non-ideological, fiscally responsible, moderate Republican was staring at a $4.2 billion budget deficit the day he took office in 2010.

Instead of raising taxes, the usual bipartisan solution, Corbett cut waste, axed inefficient programs and got rid of the millions of dollars legislators were able to spend as they wished in their districts on their pet projects.

Corbett couldn't do the impossible -- keep his campaign promise to privatize the state's embarrassingly backward retail wine and booze monopoly.

And he hasn't turned Pennsylvania's public sector into anything as healthy as Alaska's, or even South Dakota's, the top two most fiscally sound energy-rich states.

But Gov. Corbett erased the budget deficit without raising the state income tax. And he cut government spending enough to enrage the big-spender lobby, the teachers union and, not to be redundant, the state's Democrats.

According to the national political wizards, however, Corbett is one of the most vulnerable incumbent GOP governors in the land.

It's not because Democrats in his state have gotten stronger or less stupid.

Their four gubernatorial nominees are fighting to see who can pander the most to the teachers union and slap the highest severance tax on natural gas production.

Corbett's biggest obstacle to reelection might be his fellow Republicans.

Some conservatives are complaining he hasn't done enough to diminish the entrenched power of unions, especially considering the state Senate and House are in Republican hands.

They also want Corbett to address the state's $50 billion in unfunded liability for the retirement plans of teachers and government workers.

But Pennsylvania's conservatives better wise up and appreciate what they've got.


Michael Reagan

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of Ronald Reagan, is heard daily by over 5 million listeners via his nationally syndicated talk radio program, “The Michael Reagan Show.”