August 21, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Raising hopes for a budget deal, Republican legislative leaders emerged from negotiations Wednesday saying they would give Gov. Wolf a portion of the money he wants for public schools as long as he accepts their plan for pension reform. Though details were scant, Republicans who control both legislative chambers said they would agree to allocate an additional $400 million for classroom spending on kindergarten through 12th grade if the governor agreed to their counterproposal for reining in the ballooning cost of public-employee pensions.
August 14, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - During an hour-long negotiating session Wednesday, Gov. Wolf and Republican legislators inched toward compromise on some key sticking points in a budget six weeks overdue. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) was careful to temper expectations, but said the talks marked the first time he had seen "some movement [by Wolf] acknowledging our perspective" on pension reform and privatization of the state liquor store system. "There's no breakthrough," Turzai said, "but it was an important discussion.
August 7, 2015
THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S Office in Philly recently made itself a laughingstock with its relentless pursuit of the utterly irrelevant Joey Merlino for the outrageous criminal outrage of having a scotch and a cigar with a guy he knew 30 years ago. The Chaka Fattah indictment is somewhat less amusing, however. That this is purely a political vendetta cannot be doubted. The velvet glove came off for all to see when Sen. Menendez was indicted - another guy who was "being investigated" for years but then suddenly was indicted when the president's Iran deal was about to be finalized and it became clear Menendez would be the loudest Democratic vote against it. There are Democrats who are concerned about national security, but they now seem rather muted in their criticism over the prospect of a nuclear Iran 10 years from now. I wonder why that happened, don't you?
July 11, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf on Thursday vetoed the Republican-backed pension reform plan, striking down the final piece of a trifecta of budget bills from the GOP-controlled legislature. Wolf said that he understood the need for reining in the skyrocketing cost of public-employee pensions, but that "this legislation provides no immediate cost savings to taxpayers and does not maximize long-term savings for taxpayers. " "We need pension reform that works," Wolf said in a statement.
May 14, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Two measures dealing with issues that are key to any state budget deal - property taxes and pensions - began moving through the legislature Tuesday, with lawmakers pushing for swift action on both. The House began debate on a multibillion-dollar property-tax relief measure whose prospects are uncertain, while the Senate is poised to vote on a Republican-backed proposal to rein in the cost of public-employee pensions. Both bills are up for final passage Wednesday, after which legislators will break until June, when budget talks with Gov. Wolf will begin in earnest.
April 9, 2015
I'M FEELING a little sorry for the Republican Party these days. For one thing, it can't really play in the mayor's race. And I mean no offense to Melissa Murray Bailey (the GOP candidate, in case you're wondering). For another thing, the party seems intent on reprising its off-message messes at the national and maybe even the state level. Doesn't it seem as if the national plan, as trotted out in Indiana, is stopping gays from getting married? Message: If only we could keep lesbians from buying bridal bouquets in Bloomington, the country could get back on track.
April 8, 2015
For one thing, it can't really play in the mayor's race. And I mean no offense to Melissa Murray Bailey (the GOP candidate, in case you're wondering). For another thing, the party seems intent on reprising its off-message messes at the national and maybe even the state level. Doesn't it seem as if the national plan, as trotted out in Indiana, is stopping gays from getting married? Message: If only we could keep lesbians from buying bridal bouquets in Bloomington, the country could get back on track.
March 25, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - No pension reform, no state budget. A top Senate Republican said Monday that if Gov. Wolf doesn't address the state's skyrocketing pension costs during budget negotiations with the legislature, there will be no budget. Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said that reining in the cost of public employee pensions is a priority, and that he and his colleagues will not pass a spending plan if it is not addressed. "We are not doing a budget without it," Corman said during a monthly press club luncheon in Harrisburg, comparing the state's pension problem to a "tsunami" that has already reached land.
March 3, 2015
By Kevin Shivers At his inauguration, Gov. Wolf said: "We need leaders today who are willing to listen to each other and learn from each other. " Since taking office, Wolf has been working behind the scenes and visiting with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to establish working relationships. He's also met with many outside groups to hear their concerns. On Tuesday, Wolf will have the opportunity to lay out his agenda and present his first budget proposal in a speech before the General Assembly.
January 21, 2015 |
New governors tend to dwell on the superlative difficulty of the job ahead, if only to lower expectations and impugn their predecessors. In Tom Wolf's case, however, the requisite doomsaying has the distinction of being somewhat grounded in reality. Wolf is taking over a state government with a more than $2 billion budget deficit, a $47 billion unfunded pension liability, and battered credit ratings that rank among the bottom three states. The commonwealth's sluggish economic and employment growth don't seem likely to help soon.