Archive: August, 2009
While your Commonwealth Confidential reporters have been tracking the state budget debate, Gov. Rendell's battle of the bulge and the signing of Michael Vick, the political blogosphere has been buzzing with news bites on the Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign trail.
First, the political news blog PA2010 reports today that perennial candidate Joe Hoeffel - now holding court in Norristown as a Montgomery County Commissioner - is commissioning a poll to see how he'd fair against other potential candidates in the gubernatorial race.
In an interview, Hoeffel told PA2010 he was in the process of raising money to pay for the poll, but declined to go into any specifics, such as whether the poll will match him up against just Democratic candidates or Republicans as well.
Actor and education advocate Bill Cosby joined forces with Gov. Rendell at the Capitol today to lobby for increased school funding in the state budget.
"No more cuts," said Cosby, sporting the crimson and gold cap and T-shirt of his alma mater, Central High School in Philadelphia. "Why would you want to take money from a success story and pull back on it?"
Rendell also announced the results of a new national study which found that among the 50 states, only Pennsylvania showed test score improvements in reading and math at all levels from elementary to high school.
Actor and education advocate (and Philly native) Bill Cosby will join Gov. Rendell tomorrow to announce the results of a new national study showing Pennsylvania students are making progress. In what, we don't yet know.
Cosby and Rendell will tell us at a news conference at noon in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg.
The governor’s mansion is a lonely place these days and it’s starting to mess with Gov. Rendell’s mind.
At a news conference this morning, Rendell said that as a result of the budget impasse – the fiscal plan is now seven weeks overdue – he has spent almost every day in Harrisburg waiting for the legislature to reach at compromise spending plan.
Gov. Rendell today tapped Gary Tuma, a longtime mouthpiece of disgraced former state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, to be his new press secretary.
“Gary Tuma is a veteran newsman who brings a variety of perspectives to the job – he has been a reporter covering the Capitol, a press secretary at a cabinet agency, and a press secretary in the legislature,” Rendell said. “Gary is a well respected, hard working and experienced press secretary, and I couldn't be more pleased that he is joining my administration.”
Sen. Arlen Specter has a new web site up detailing the 105 votes that Democratic primary rival Rep. Joe Sestak has missed this year. It's called "No Show Joe" and is reachable here.
Click here for Philly.com's politics page.
U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter met with Harrisburg reporters this afternoon to discuss his less-than-congenial series of high-profile town hall meetings he has had this week.
“Nice to have a friendly group of questioners,” Specter jokingly told reporters at the outset of the afternoon media availability outside the Patriot-News building.
Ok, it's ridiculously early, as the man himself admits. But hey, never say never. Politico reports tonight that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum plans to visit Iowa this fall and appear before the kind of conservative activists who are key in the state's first-in-the-nation GOP caucus in 2012.
Click here for Philly.com's politics page.
Note to Gov. Rendell: When trying to negotiate a final budget with legislative leaders, it’s perhaps not a good thing to utter publicly that you have daydreamed about killing a roomful of them.
You might think it, governor. Just don’t say it out loud.
But he did just that this morning.
Rendell told reporters that he was frustrated with the way the conference committee of legislative leaders charged with finalizing a budget bill was progressing.
The initial two committee meetings were held in public with Democrats and Republicans spending most of the time bickering about procedure and making little if any progress toward a handshake.
Rendell said it all reminded him of a scene from Goldfinger, the 1960s James Bond classic in which the villain kills a room filled with gangsters in one fell swoop.
“He just filled the room with poison gas and knocked them all off,” Rendell said with a snap of his fingers. “You might have thought after watching those two (conference committee) days that that would have been a good idea.”
Sure, Rendell was joking, but not everyone found it funny.
“No one has every said that the governor’s sense of humor is one of his strong suits,” said Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware).
Gov. Rendell this morning said a proposed 50-percent cut in funding for public libraries would strike a devastating blow to what he called “the sanctuaries” of our communities.
Libraries are “where kids can go to get away from the rough, tough crush or realities and pick up a book and … transport themselves to a different place,” the governor said during a news conference at the East Shore Area Library in suburban Harrisburg. “Libraries might not be life or death … but they can be life-changing experiences.”
Rendell last week signed a stopgap budget proposed by Senate Republicans that provides money to pay state employees and for certain emergency spending. But he vetoed all other funding lines, extending the budget impasse into its second month.
In that budget, funding for libraries would have been cut from $75 million to $37 million.
At that level, Rendell predicted libraries across the state would have to reduce operating hours, close their doors on some days or shutter branches.
Rendell’s budget proposal would cut library funding by 10 percent to $68 million.