- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf appealed for voters’ support in the last debate of the gubernatorial campaign Wednesday night, with Corbett saying he deserves re-election because his work is “not finished yet” and Wolf vowing he can do the job better.

“Pennsylvania can be better,” Wolf said. “Pennsylvania should be a state with a future.”

The candidates fielded a barrage of questions from three panelists and TV viewers who submitted questions through social media websites about issues including taxes, public pension costs and education spending. But they broke no new ground in the hour-long debate at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh.

Corbett renewed his attack on unanswered questions about Wolf’s far-reaching proposal to overhaul the state income tax to shift more of the cost onto the wealthiest taxpayers, accusing him of “trying to be all things to all people.”

“Mr. Wolf wants to spend more money … the question is how much?” Corbett said. “Whose taxes are going to go up? Whose taxes are going to go down?”

Wolf, a first-time candidate who ran his family’s York-based building products company for nearly three decades, reiterated that his goal is to provide level or lower income taxes for workers who make as much as $90,000 a year and increases on those who earn more.

“If you’re in the $70,000 to $90,000 range as an individual - and you can double that if you’re married - you should not pay any more in taxes,” he said. “And people making below that would get a break.”

Wolf said his proposals may have to be tempered by financial problems that he suggested Corbett is responsible for but that have not come to light.

“I think I’ve been as specific as I possibly can be,” he said.

Both men agreed that the exchange of emails containing pornographic images and videos by former members of the attorney general’s office was unacceptable behavior for state employees.

But Wolf suggested that it was at least partially the result of an office culture for which Corbett, a former attorney general, is responsible.

“The culture does start from the top,” he said.

Two top officials in Corbett’s administration who had been among the people who exchanged the emails resigned last week amid a review by Corbett’ s office. The governor said he was disturbed by the revelations and has asked Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, to release similar emails so that the scope of the activity can be made clear.

The staffers who exchanged the emails “didn’t show it to me so they probably knew what my reaction would be,” Corbett said, “so if you’re talking about a culture from the top it didn’t come from me.”

Independent polls show Wolf leading Corbett by a wide margin, although a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday showed the margin narrowing slightly. The election is Nov. 4.

The candidates also sparred over the ill-fated Republican-penned law that required most Pennsylvania voters to show photo identification at the polls, which was struck down by the courts.

Corbett said he continues to favor such laws, if they can pass judicial muster, as insurance that “one person has one vote” and said more education is needed to combat voters’ lack of interest in elections.

Wolf called it an “anti-democratic” move by Republicans seeking to disenfranchise groups that tended to support Democratic candidates.

“We need to work on ways to make our democracy more relevant to the people,” Wolf said.

The candidates also disagreed about a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the size of the state Legislature, one of the nation’s largest.

“I don’t see how that actually improves our democracy,” Wolf said.

Corbett said he not only supports the proposal but would like to go further and replace the current “full-time” legislature with a less expensive “citizen” legislature.

“Citizenship like that should be a part-time job,” he said.

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