Archive: December, 2009
A single legislative action and one "irrepressable" individual proved to be the major forces in Pennsylvania politics in the past decade. The Associated Press, in its decade in review, points to the ill-fated legislative pay raise of 2005 and Gov. Rendell were the catalysts that shifted the Commonwealth's political landscape.
The middle-of-the-night vote by the General Assembly to fatten their salaries spurred voter anger that helped bring about major reforms, such as the open records act, and the Bonusgate investigation that has ensnared 25 people - including current and former lawmakers and their aides. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party - backed by record-breaking fundraising efforts - surged ahead of the GOP in most political contests, sending Pennsylvania into the "blue" category with its presidential votes and capturing the majority in the state House.
For political junkies, the AP has pulled together a comprehensive timeline. (See below) For another take, check out Capitol Ideas of the Morning Call of Allentown.
Heading into his final year in office, Gov. Rendell said he will again propose a tax on natural gas drilling and hinted that he may resurrect his proposal to raise the personal income tax to cope with the next wave of budget crises in the years ahead.
"We'll see," said Rendell, during a year-end press briefing, when asked if he planned to propose a tax increase in his February budget address.
But Rendell did say he would ask the legislature in 2010 to approve a tax on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale - the vast and potentially hugely lucrative gas reserve that lies beneath much of the state. That proposal was defeated last year after strenuous lobbying by the gas industry which argued it would harm an industry "in its infancy."
Saying he thinks there is no chance of a table games bill reaching his desk, Gov. Rendell has ordered his cabinet secretaries to begin the process of reducing their staffs.
When asked at a news conference this afternoon what the chances were of the legislature passing table games bill, Rendell said "nil."
Rendell last week threatened to layoff 1,000 more state workers if no gambling bill was on his desk by Jan. 8. The bill -agreed to as part of the state budget the governor signed in October - would produce $250 million that Rendell said is needed to keep the government running.
Cynics among us might like to make wisecracks about those "rats" who inhabit the space under the big green dome in Harrisburg.
Well, no honest-to-God rats have been found in the Capitol, but the place is apparently overrun with mice.
The Capitol cafeteria, where lobbyists and lawmakers, clerks and scribes alike dine daily, was shut down just after the lunch rush on Thursday after evidence of rodent infestation was found.
The Toomey camp has released a new zinger video - the last one featured "Kharma Chameleon," that 80's tune in reference to Arlen Specter's party switch. "...you come and go, you come and go..." This installment shows that Specter was against a Democratic supermajority before he was for it.
Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter is tied at 44 percent with likely Republican nominee Pat Toomey, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
But the incumbent, who became a Democrat earlier this year after four decades in the GOP, holds a commanding lead of 53 percent to 30 percent over Delaware County's U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak among registered Democrats. Sestak is challenging Specter for the nomination in the May 2010 party primary.
In aother test matchup in the poll, Toomey led Sestak, 40 percent to 35 percent among registered voters.
Tom Corbett is the clear frontrunner in the race to be Pennsylvania’s next governor, a new poll shows.
Corbett, the state’s two-term attorney general, had a 38-12 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.
Facing still sluggish economic conditions, Gov. Rendell has ordered additional spending cuts, a spending freeze and will tap unspent funds in the budget to help patch an end-of-the-year budget hole.
At a news conference this morning Rendell said without the cuts the state would end the fiscal year with a $450 million shortfall.
He said the cuts are needed to keep the current budget in balance as a result of a continuing decline in state revenues caused by a slow national economic recovery.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D.,Pa.) is busy doing the people's work in Washington and voters in the 11th Congressional District have already rejected Republican Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazelton, twice, Kanjorski's campaign said in a statement.
"Hearing that Mr. Barletta is running again reminds me of what Yogi Berra said: 'This is like deja vu all over again.,'" said Ed Mitchell, spokesman for Kanjorski. "Having been rejected by the voters twice, I guess Barletta is looking for strike three, you're out."
Kanjorski is "busy reforming the financial industry, bringing jobs to the district and providing for affordable health care that protects Medicare," Mitchell said. "He also remains a champion for preserving Social Security so we have no further comment at this time."
Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta, a Republican who earned national fame for his crusade against illegal immigration, announced today that he will run to represent Northeasatern Pennsylvanian's 11th congressional district in the U.S. House.
It will be his third attempt at Congress. As the GOP nominee in 2008, Barletta lost to longtime Democratic incumbent Rep. Paul Kanjorski by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, amid the high turnout of the Obama presidential victory. Republican strategists believe Kanjorski is vulnerable.
Barletta announced his intent on his website, www.loubarletta.com, this morning. He used a video, set to stirring music, that shows his concession speech from 2008 and then switches to hizzoner saying he wants to fight to "put America back on track" for his new grandson - and everybody's grandchildren. (He did not mention immigration.)