Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Talked with the Governor of Pennsylvania!

Earlier today I got to have a good and very direct chat with Governor Corbett.

He was visiting Google Pittsburgh, there wasn't an organized "question and answer" session, but I hoped that if I positioned myself between the photo ops and the cafeteria he might just bump into me and say hello, which is precisely what happened.

We were very friendly and polite to each other, but nonetheless traded opinions on some tough issues. In particular, I wanted him to know that his statement "I don't think anyone here wants to pay any more in taxes" does not speak for me, and I know many other Googlers who it doesn't speak for. If more money in taxation is required for good schools for our children, then we'll pay it. People who work for Google are choosing between many options in many parts of the world, so if Pennsylvania is competing for tech talent (as the Governor emphasized), the state needs to be aware that we care about issues like education.

Of course, the Governor didn't say "Wow, you're right, I should change the budget proposals". But he did listen. We both agreed that Google employees are privileged and not-your-average-citizen. He did talk about longer term options for paying for schools and universities, voucher systems and choice. He recognizes that long-term, we need better education, it builds stronger communities, lower crime, more prosperous societies. And (something I haven't heard so much in the public speeches) he emphasized that the stop-gap budget he had to come out with in 6 weeks is not his long-term vision for Pennsylvania: longer term we need to have a much more strategic and visionary approach.

There is much we disagree on, and I'll still be surprised if we come to agree enough about his concrete proposals for me to vote for him next time. But we were both receptive and respectful, and I very much appreciated his taking the time to talk with me. He said "watch this space, we're not always going to be in crisis mode", and I will certainly watch it carefully, look at subsequent budget proposals, and consider his record and manifesto carefully if he stands for reelection.

I really appreciate opportunities like this. There might be a few jobs where you get to talk to your State Governor in person, but I bet I have one of the only jobs where you get to talk to your State Governor dressed in shorts and sandals and nobody thinks it's at all unusual!

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