We woke up today to a Twitter feed from CNN with the cheery, effervescent headline: “U.S. economy grinds to near halt.” We decided to get dressed anyway. The relentlessly bleak economic news might be the explanation for our next item.
Pennsylvania public education advocates, along with many high level Rendell Administration officials, are no doubt crestfallen with yesterday’s announcement that once again, we will miss out on federal Race to the Top grant funding.
With the state budget in its on-going precarious condition, one of the great sports in Harrisburg is “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” These days, it seems like Gov. Ed Rendell has more shoes than the entire eight-team hitch of Clydesdales pulling the Budweiser wagon. This week the Governor eased the fears of state workers by announcing that only 100 layoffs would be necessary at this time to bring spending in line with available revenues. That’s a far cry from the 20,000 layoff figure being bandied about by various Chicken Littles as recently as a month ago. But remember, the Governor still has more shoes.
Townships Rally to Protect the Rights of Their Constituents
Today, as a township or borough resident, you can go to a municipal meeting, speak out about what’s right and wrong, and have a real and lasting impact on what happens in your community.
Tomorrow, however, that might not be the case. And the sad thing is, many Pennsylvanians aren’t aware that something they value, and possibly take for granted, could be snatched away. And that’s their right to be heard, loud and clear, by their local elected leaders.
Apparently tired of his current career (which entails randomly appearing at Piggly Wiggly stores across Alabama), The King is making a comeback. Elvis Presley announced this week that he is running for Governor of Arkansas. We’re caught in a trap. We can’t walk out.
Former Vice-President Dan Quayle’s son Ben is running for Congress. He plans to go to Washington, and we quote, “kick the hell out of the place.” We also know that young Quayle believes President Obama is the worst in U.S. history (he said as much in his hell-kicking ad), but no word yet on whether or not he can spell “potato.”
So as the good budget news emerged from D.C. this week, Governor Ed Rendell was left to figure out how to solve the remaining $250 million hole, a budget gap that will no doubt be looked upon fondly next year at this time (Grandpa, tell us about 2010 when the deficit was tiny!) The governor’s plan is to slash every department by 1.9%, and hack $50 million from his coveted basic education increase. This move set off rounds of howling by folks who spent the last two years demanding that he cut the budget. Rendell repeatedly banged his head off of his desk until he passed out.
Also in Rendell’s plan is a move to lay off 200 state employees, which is actually somewhat of a victory for those folks in this twisted, fiscal Bizarro World we live in. Original estimates had as many as 20,000 employees being shown the door. Ah, sweet, sweet FMAP. Where would we be without you? What’s that? We are gonna find out next year? Oh.
Onorato himself raised some serious eyebrows, and perhaps some serious cash, with his announcement that he will support school vouchers on a limited basis, although he doesn’t call them vouchers. They will be known as “smouchers.” In any case, the state’s largest teachers’ union, after coughing up a giant hairball, decided to endorse him anyway. Because they…can’t help…falling in love…with Dan.
When not completely ignoring calls for a moratorium, the gas drilling industry this week laid out its ideas for legislation to accompany the severance tax that might someday be passed, or more likely, punted until next year. Among them is a plan to pre-empt local ordinances, as well as a plan for so-called “forced pooling”, which will allow drillers to sidestep recalcitrant landowners. The natural gas drilling industry also wants a new puppy. From you. So get on it.
Funds from the state’s master settlement agreement with tobacco companies continues to shrink, we learned this week, coming in about $66 million behind the usual $350 million we get annually. Somehow, this came as a shock to people. Memo to all manner of government official: when you regulate and generally tax the living daylights out of any product, consumption will drop. Wherein, numbers will drop. For more information on this complex theorem, call a freshman econ major at Shippensburg.
The Pennsylvania State Police used to be the sacred cow of state budgeting. Well, not anymore, Sunshine. This week we learned that, due to the $9.1 million budget cut that some lawmakers insisted would not hurt the PSP, some 300 vacant positions will not be filled. We wonder if the “cut the budget” frenzy will abate at all when you call 911 and a very tired cop driving a 1978 Dodge shows up at your door three days later.
The addition of table games at the state’s casinos has resulted in the creation of almost 13,000 jobs, with more on the way. This is yet another example of the human cost of that dirty, filthy gaming industry. People actually have to go to work! And spend their money on food and stuff! And pay taxes! We do not know how these casino-industry types sleep at night.
One place that will be without table games, or any other games for that matter, will be the Valley View Downs in Lawrence County (which, to be clear, currently looks like a big open field.) Centaur Gaming this week finally went Ace-Deuce and gave up its bid to find funding for the new casino and harness track. Paging Steve Wynn…
Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario departed his post this week for the friendly confines of Washington, D.C., where he will head up a committee charged with creating a competitive insurance market under the new health care reform law. Ario is apparently either the most optimistic man on the planet, or a masochist of some type. In either case, we wish him all the best!
Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer of SEIU and one of the most influential women in the history of the labor movement, decided to cash out this week, setting her sights on some new campaign endeavors. You can check out her exit interview here. Bon Voyage, Anna, give ‘em hell!
The AFL-CIO this week endorsed Dan Onorato and Joe Sestak, to the shock of absolutely no one. Not much more to say about that, but figured you’ll be a better person for having this crucial information. Our tip of the week? The State Chamber of Business and Industry will endorse Tom Corbett. Call it a hunch.
That is all from Triad’s secret lair this week. Roy has been busy burning up the social media broadband connection, with a post that has generated thousands of views. Check him out today at www.roywells.com. Hint: if you re-tweet his stuff, he will thank you. He is a very polite tweeter.
From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend. And please…don’t step on our blue suede shoes!
Campaigns are retail sales games, only instead of hawking products, candidates are hawking themselves. As a candidate, you have a platform that you run on, full of fresh and new ideas on how to end the war in Afghanistan, balance the state budget, or stop a proposed landfill from being built in your neighborhood. All you need to do is find your customer (or in this case, your voter), talk to them, secure their support and get them to the polls.
There were two very important birthdays this week. One guy woke up Wednesday, turned 49, and resumed running the most powerful nation on earth. The other woke up the next day, turned 50, and resumed running the most fabulous lobbying firm in all the land. Happy birthday to Barack and Roy!
We ran across a story in the Harrisburg Patriot-News this week included a phrase that, we must admit, mystified us just a bit. In it, a respected governmental relation practitioner was talking about his style of lobbying, which he described as “face-to-face” contact.
Last week, Roy Wells and his blog explored the question of whether it is better for a public relations firm to hire an experienced, traditional practitioner, or an inexperienced yet social media-savvy youngster.
The clock is about to strike midnight on federal efforts to approve an extension of Medicaid funds to the states, as the U.S. Senate has scheduled a vote for late this afternoon.