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By Charlie Gerow

Former President Bill Clinton's campaign team once told us, "It's the economy stupid." It was true then, it's true now and it always will be. Jobs are the lifeblood of the economy and at the top of the list of economic concerns for most voters.

Republican strategist Charlie GerowCarl Socolow

Despite the avalanche of paid attacks on Governor Corbett's record on job creation, the facts tell a very different story.g

The fact is that during the Corbett administration there were more private sector jobs filled by working Pennsylvanians than ever before. This record-high employment didn't just happen by accident.

Despite inheriting an economic mess from Ed Rendell and Tom Wolf, Gov. Tom Corbett implemented policies that promote economic growth and employment. As a result unemployment plummeted from 8.1 percent to 5.7 percent. And it's expected to dip again when the labor reports are issued next week.

The path to prosperity created by Corbett's policies has not been without some bumps and there are steps yet to be taken.

One prime concern is restoring the state's manufacturing preeminence. Corbett has clearly stated, "Manufacturing remains the critical mass around which the rest of our economy grows."

Like my fellow columnist Tony May, I am not the candidate and do not speak for the Corbett campaign.But here are several initiatives that will allow the state's economy to grow and create and sustain good-paying, long-lasting jobs.

1. Workforce Development:A highly trained workforce equipped both with the essential job skills and "soft assets" of reliability, integrity and good work habits is essential. Already a high priority of the Corbett administration, the programs in place should be streamlined and strengthened in his second term.

2. A sensible and fair tax policy: Job creators vote with their feet. They go to places where taxes are less onerous. Pennsylvania has the highest effective corporate income tax in the country. Even Tom Wolf says the corporate tax should be cut (a curious position for him--especially in light of his refusal to explain how he would make up the revenue shortfall). Adopting tax policies that are fair and stimulate growth and economic opportunity is critical to creating jobs and expanding our economy.

3. Tort reform: Frivolous and abusive lawsuits have hampered our economy and manufacturing growth in particular. Governor Corbett was successful in getting a major piece of lawsuit abuse reform, the "fair share" of joint and several liability. Additional common sense reforms like the adoption of a statute of repose in product liability cases will go a long way to restoring balance in the scales of civil justice and promoting a thriving economy and workforce. Governor Corbett will make these a priority. Tom Wolf won't.

4. A safe and reliable transportation system:Businesses know that they must get their goods and services to market safely and reliably. If they can't, they will again "vote with their feet" and go elsewhere. Governor Corbett successfully shepherded a transportation funding bill through the legislature gaining broad bi-partisan support for what became Act 89, a badly needed step toward long-term comprehensive transportation funding.

Sadly, Tom Wolf cynically attacked Governor Corbett for leading this effort.

There's more to be done during the next four years. Furthering reliable and safe highways and bridges is not only a matter of public safety, it's a matter of economic growth and jobs.

5. A dynamic energy policy:We have a goldmine under our feet. With hundreds of billions of tons of coal and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, Pennsylvania can satisfy the nation's energy needs for centuries. The economic benefits to us and the jobs that are created both directly and indirectly are staggering.

The only thing that can hold us back from the greatest boom in our economy since the Industrial Revolution is stifling public policy. Tom Wolf's quest for additional severance taxes on natural gas would decrease production in Pennsylvania, raise the price of natural gas (when the tax is passed on, as they always are, to consumers) and thwart job growth.

This increased cost of energy would hurt all consumers and hit business hard, especially manufacturing where energy is a key element. Governor Corbett's approach to the safe and responsible development of coal, natural gas and other energy is the key to a vibrant economy that creates good jobs and prosperity for all working Pennsylvanians.

My dad used to tell me, "Before you tell me what you're going to do, show me what you've done."

Corbett has turned our economy around despite being saddled with a gargantuan structural deficit he inherited from Ed Rendell and Tom Wolf.

Under his leadership unemployment plummeted and 175,000 new jobs were created. Tom Wolf likes to refer to himself as a business owner and "job creator." But the family business he inherited has seen hundreds of jobs walk out the door over the last decade, never to return.

Today a business that employed more than 600 people a decade ago has about 200 employees.

Thanks for the advice, Dad.

Charlie Gerow is the CEO of Quantum Communications, a public relations firm that does some work for the Corbett campaign and the state Republican Party. Along with "Elephants Donkeys" columnist Tony May and PennLive Opinion Editor John L. Micek, he is a panelist on "Face the State," which airs Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on CBS-21 in Harrisburg.

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