Politics & Policy

Fact Check: Tom Corbett and the $10M Arlen Specter Library

Last week, Tom Corbett debuted his latest ad, “Library,” in which he showcased examples of the type of spending that he would eliminate as governor to close a burgeoning budget gap. One example Corbett cited was the Arlen Specter Library, a planned center at Philadelphia University.

Gov. Ed Rendell signed a budget this summer that included $10 million in bond proceeds to fund construction of the Arlen Specter Library project.

Always-testy Specter fired off a press release criticizing Tom Corbett for his pluck:

“Mr. Corbett ought to check the facts,” Specter said in a statement. “The facts are that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is putting up $1.927 million to match $2 million put up by Philadelphia University for the Senator Arlen Specter Center for Political Science and International Relations.”

“At issue is whether this is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars,” Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley told Battle ‘10. “It’s an indisputable fact that Governor Rendell signed a capital budget that included $10 million for the Specter library.”

Harley characterized the bond authorization for the Specter library — regardless of its final cost — as irresponsible spending in a troubled economy.

“We have nearly 600,000 on unemployment in Pennsylvania, nearly 9.3 percent of the state, and a multi-million-dollar budget deficit that has yet to be filled,” said Harley.

“The debt has increased some 40 percent since Rendell took office, from $22 billion to $28 billion,” he said. “Who’s going to be left holding the bag for Gov. Rendell’s political pet projects? The taxpayer.”

Sen. Specter has a point — his library will be funded with slightly less than $2 million from his constituents pockets rather than the full $10 million.

But Corbett’s point remains intact, which is that Gov. Rendell and politicians in Harrisburg have demonstrated a disregard for sane spending. After all, isn’t that the Specter library will only cost some $2 million from the taxpayers, but that the legislature and the governor were fully comfortable with taking on some $10 million in debt to finance a going-away present to a defeated career politician.


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