It is said that the 50 states are the laboratories of democracy. In the last 4 years, Pennsylvania has been a a jobs laboratory, testing two competing and different policy prescriptions for the creation of jobs.
Governor Rendell famously made investments in education, infrastructure, health care, and clean energy top priorities. He thought bond financing produced growth, as long as the projects financed with debt were productive and interest rates were low. He even raised modestly the state's personal income tax to pay for education and other investments.
Rendell's last year was 2010, and his successor is Tom Corbett.
Governor Corbett has pursued conservative budget and economic policies. He cut the use of bond financing, signed the Grover Norquist no tax pledge, refused to expand Medicaid and accept $4 billion per year of federal funding for hospitals, neglected or attacked clean energy, and proposed big cuts to education from kindergarten to higher education. Also, he has cut taxes to favored business constituencies. Moreover, he has put all his eggs in the gas drilling basket, opposing a tax on gas drilling.
So, what are the results of the Pennsylvania jobs laboratory, where the Corbett and Rendell policy approaches have been tested?
In 2010, the last year of Governor Rendell's term, Pennsylvania created 87,000 jobs, while having an unemployment rate well below the national unemployment rate. Pennsylvania actually ranked 7th in jobs creation in 2010, according to the Jobs Growth Index run by Arizona State University.
Governor Corbett now has served for 3 years and his jobs record is the following:
2011--45,000 jobs added
2012--35,000 jobs added
2013--18,000 jobs added
Corbett's conservative policies are so toxic to jobs and growth that the Commonwealth's unemployment rate has been steadily above the national average since the summer of 2012. That's the facts!