Pa. politics: What lies ahead?

Kathleen Kane: In Pennsylvania, there’s nothing unusual about the state’s highest law-enforcement being unable to practice law.

A NEW YEAR in state politics begins, all too fittingly, with no resolutions.

No resolution to the festering fiasco of the state budget process.

No resolution to lingering lunacy surrounding Kathleen Kane.

No resolution to fixing one of the most corrupt and worst run states in America.

Instead we start with questions.

Can the powers that be, such as they are, shake off a year of landmark failure in governing and public service?

Does the year of no budget become another year of no budget?

Can the state's highest law enforcement official stay out of jail, reclaim a suspended law license and run for reelection, all while releasing more porn?

(Just think about that last one for a second. There's no other state where that question can be asked. Gotta make ya Pennsylvania proud.)

The budget, the one that was supposed to pass last June, is still hanging, an albatross around the neck of progress and common sense.

Politics and ideology prevail.

Being worst in the nation in terms of educational disparity and among the worst in job growth are secondary concerns to the primary concerns of political donors and constituencies, including unions and big energy.

Harrisburg always has been best at doing little or nothing, though mostly nothing, on long-term problems such as public pensions or liquor reform or political reform or tax reform.

And bipartisanship isn't exactly a by-word in the Capitol.

So we have no budget; apart from what Democratic Gov. Wolf calls "garbage" proposals born of Republican "stupidity."

Sounds like we're off to another great start.

And Kane? A tale so twisted and bizarre, so "can't-make-it-up" (evil twin sister?), it's really become a reality show.

Kane's a grown up version of Honey Boo Boo in political pageantry that could only take place in Pennsylvania.

Will the New Year will provide more of the same as Kane moves on to the Sink 'r Swim competition?

Speaking of competition, 2016 offers potentially fun political races.

Democrats seeking to succeed Kane face a primary expected to include longtime Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala and Montco Commissioner Josh Shapiro.

Should be interesting: West v. East; prosecutor v. non-prosecutor.

Question is has Kane, the first Democratic AG since the post became an elected office in 1980, poisoned the well for any Democrat to ever win it again?

Then there's the Democratic U.S. Senate primary to see who faces incumbent Republican Pat Toomey in November.

It so far features former Congressman Joe Sestak, former gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, he of large stature, shaved head, tattoos and Albright, UConn and Harvard degrees.

Will Democrats choose Sestak, who nearly beat Toomey last time out? McGinty, who could benefit from lots of women voting for Hillary (in a state that's never elected a woman Senator)? Or Fetterman, on the theory this is the year for non-traditional candidates?

Or will Democrats beat each other up, spend all their money and ease Toomey's path to reelection?

Lots of questions. About leadership, policy and politics.

In a perfect world, our leadership would put citizens ahead of special interests. And our lawmakers would remember they are STATE representatives and STATE Senators, not local officials, and do what's best for the state.

In a perfect world, our policies would reflect common sense. Public pensions would be trimmed. Public schools, all of them, would be funded fairly.

In a perfect world our politicians would be less about keeping their jobs, more about doing their jobs.

Ah, but we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a place known more for corruption than cooperation. We live in a place known more for pornography than progress.

We live in Pennsylvania, where resolutions to public problems are few and far between.

Happy 2016.

Email: baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

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