Corbett Likes Views of Window Company

A Caernarvon Township vinyl window manufacturer is a perfect example of a business that managed to survive the recession by living within its means, Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday after a tour of the facility.

State government must do the same, he said, standing in the middle of the Viwinco Inc. factory, where 185 people are employed in the designing and manufacturing of vinyl windows and patio doors.

Some people were laid off, but the company is hoping to be up to 200 employees within the next month, Corbett said.

That shows the economy is starting to turn around somewhat, but businesses and the state must be conservative and cautious, he said.

The governor said the state has only two options for balancing its budget: raising taxes or cutting expenses.

No one raised a hand when Corbett asked how many of the workers would have wanted to pay $920 more in state taxes last year to help eliminate the $4.2 billion deficit he inherited when he took office in January 2011.

The state needs to make up $1 billion this year, which would take about another $300 per family, Corbett said.

"That's why I'm trying to control the costs," he said. "It's not easy. I don't want to make these tough decisions, but you elected me to make tough decisions. We expect everyone to live within their means. You had to do it here."

Showing a dollar bill on a chart, Corbett explained that 40.3 cents of every dollar is spent on education, 38.9 cents is spent on welfare programs and 7.3 cents is spent on corrections, probation and parole.

"That leaves 13.4 cents for everything else," he said. "When these things continue, it makes it very, very difficult."

Problems with education funding are going to get worse because of problems in the pension funds for school employees and state workers, Corbett said.

Included in the education budget for the current fiscal year is $1.1 billion needed for the pension funds, and that number is expected to rise to nearly $4 billion by the 2015-16 fiscal year, he said.

School districts need to spend their reserves or look somewhere other than the state for money, Corbett said.

Colleges and universities that receive state funding complain about funding cuts, but the amount they receive from the state is just a small portion of their budgets, he said.

They need to find ways to save money instead of raising tuition, Corbett said.

The economy and the state budget will recover when businesses grow and more workers are hired, he said.

"You pay them wages," Corbett said. "You pay business taxes. We will see more money coming into the state budget."

Meanwhile, everyone who receives state money must learn to control costs, he said.

"I'm not going to tax you," Corbett promised. "You need that money."

Before he spoke, Corbett watched as machines cut glass. Two pieces were fit into a frame, and gas was inserted between them to provide insulation. Then vinyl was applied. Workers finished and cleaned the windows by hand.

Owner and President David J. Barnes said the business environment has been challenging, particularly with the downtown in the building trades.

"We've made great strides," he said. "We're still here."