America’s favorite varmint meteorologist this week predicted an early spring. It is snowing today. Moving right along…
NASA this week decided to completely screw with our heads and keep us up at night by telling us that the Earth’s formation (which some believe happened 4,000 years ago) was the result of two planets – Earth and Theia – smashing together to form one planet. First Pluto gets punched in the gut, and now this. Why did we even take science in high school? It was all LIES!
The U.S. economy added 2.65 million private sector jobs in 2015, we learned this week. With the unemployment rate now below 5%, 2015 marked the best year for job growth since the 1990s, proving even more incontrovertible proof that Obamacare did, in fact, destroy the economy.
As we slouch towards Governor Wolf’s second budget address without the first one being complete, we ran across this story that illustrates how the word “compromise” is now taboo around these here parts. For folks who watch government operate (or not operate, as the case may be) for a living, we would like to weigh in and say that we’ve known this since February of last year. So yeah, welcome to the party.
If you’d like to read some comments about the budget from a man who was in the political arena when compromise was the order of the day, check out our own Tony May’s thoughts on the upcoming budget battle, and what it might look like when we are all sitting around sans budget in August.
One thing we do know will be part of the governor’s budget address is an additional $200 million for basic education, on top of the $377 million he did not get last year. That’s a lot of proposed money. We will let you know when “proposed” becomes “appropriated.”
And if you really need to spend your time tracking how long the state has gone budget-less, here is a handy clock to help you do just that. Oh, and you also may want to get a hobby. Or subscribe to Netflix.
Governor Wolf this week decided that the Public Employee Retirement Commission has outlived its useful life and must therefore be sent down for a permanent dirt nap. Wolf’s team argues that the state’s two retirement systems are well-equipped to handle PERC’s duties, something that was strenuously objected to by state GOP leaders this week. Hey, smaller government has to start somewhere, right?
Speaking of pensions, the City of Philadelphia’s pension funds last year brought in a truly anemic .8% return, further imperiling the city’s ability to meet its pension obligations. To be clear, there are bookies and loan sharks in Philly who would faint at a .8% return on investment.
The governor also made a slightly more popular announcement this week, making Pennsylvania the first state to launch its own “It’s On Us” movement against sexual assault in schools and on college campuses. You can check out the announcement and find out how to join the fight here.
Slumping natural gas prices are starting to cause widespread layoffs within the industry and are now also causing widespread panic (see what we did there, music fans?) among communities that rely on the state’s impact fee to plug budget holes. Perhaps this is an instructive lesson for those who plan budget around something as volatile as gas prices.
Further down the transportation road, the Wolf Administration this week dropped a bombshell of sorts, saying that the 2013 bipartisan transportation funding bill is gonna fall about $6 billion short of expectations. The Wolf folks blame this on the previous administration promising more projects than could be funded, but there is another explanation floating around. What might that be? Glad you asked, keep reading!
As we have noted in this space on numerous occasions (until we were blue in our collective faces) the Motor License Fund has also been used to fund the operations of the Pennsylvania State Police. The practice, which began under Governor Ridge and has survived every succeeding governor, has begun to eat a large hole in dollars that are earmarked for roads, bridges and transit. In fact, the diverted amount has grown an average of 8% each year. The next time someone tells you the state budget is balanced, remind them of this little fact. Peter, meet Paul.
Finally, before we get off the transportation exit/soapbox for good, President Obama this week announced a proposed $10 a barrel tax on crude oil to fund a massive new green transportation project. With the price of crude oil hovering near record lows, now seems like the perfect time to make this investment, according to the Prez. We are sure Congress will pass this bill immediately when it returns, or when it stops laughing hysterically, whichever comes first.
Normally, when we read a state budget story saying that the GOP and governor are close to a potential agreement on a revenue package, it would be first or second paragraph type of stuff for our weekly tome. Based upon where we find ourselves typing this particular paragraph, you can see how much faith we have in this story. But, feel free to read it for yourself, we don’t mind.
This week in politics, Ted Cruz won the Iowa Caucus.
On the GOP side, Bernie and Hillary tied in Iowa and then starting fighting like cats in a burlap sack. Finally, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey endorsed Marco Rubio after our own Rick Santorum bowed out of the Presidential sweepstakes. In short, if anything noteworthy happened, we must have missed it.
In our We Can’t Make This Up section this week, we direct your attention to the woman who crashed her own funeral after her husband unsuccessfully hired some guys to kill her. Here is a hint: you might want to see a corpse before you plan a funeral. Have fun in prison, genius.
And that’s what passes for news around here as we anxiously await Tuesday’s budget address festivities! We will be there live and in person to Tweet you all of the highlights, lowlights and any other sort of light we can find! From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!
The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh