Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Thursday, and for the uninformed, that means we face six more weeks of winter. We can all take solace in the fact that the rodent has historically been correct only thirty-nine per cent of the time with his meteorological predictions. If we ran our business like that we would be…well…out of business.
If you thought that Washington, D.C. couldn’t get weirder than it’s been for the past few months or so, we’d like to inform you that there was a bobcat named Ollie on the loose somewhere in that vicinity for three days this week. The good news is that the bobcat was eventually found. The bad news is that Ollie was then promptly deported.
President Trump this week nominated Neil Gorsuch to take the empty slot on the United States Supreme Court. If you wondered why this slot has remained empty for a year now, we will direct you to Twitter, where it has been a nonstop Rage-a-Thon since the announcement.
As Trump’s cabinet nominees slog through the process on Capitol Hill, opponents of those nominees have flooded the offices of our U.S. Senators with calls, texts, e-mails, Tweets, and even faxes. Our own U.S. Senator Bob Casey has reported that he has received a whopping 80,000 letters on just one nominee, an increase in monthly correspondence of about 900%. So if you are angered that you can’t get through to voice your opinion, please keep in mind that U.S. Senators do not have unlimited staff. They don’t work in the Pentagon, after all.
It has been quite some time since we heard from our good friend and former Governor Ed Rendell, but apparently he has warmed to the idea of expressing himself on Twitter, which has GOT to be the best news we have heard in a while. This week, he took to social media to chide the President for not manufacturing his clothing line in the U.S., closing by calling the POTUS a “blowhard hypocrite.” The first Twitter war between Trump and Rendell will become the stuff of legend one day.
PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro wasted exactly zero seconds to announce he would be leading the charge to file a nationwide lawsuit against President Trump’s immigration
Executive Order. We guess Shapiro was not kidding when he said he would stand up to anyone.
And speaking of Executive Orders, Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke this week weighed in on the unfolding sanctuary cities battle, wondering aloud if there is any room for the city to be more flexible in its positon to ensure that the city doesn’t go, you know, flat broke. Ever the pragmatist, Clarke knows that, at the end of the day, the city still needs to function.
If there was one thing we learned from the 2016 election results, it is that people are experiencing real anxiety about jobs and the economy. Which explains why one of the first orders of business for the 2017 General Assembly appears to be a bill that will prohibit political contributions from being automatically deducted from paychecks of state employees. Focus, people.
The state’s Senate Democrats are asking Governor Tom Wolf to call a Special Session to deal with property taxes, which we know from our history books is the Most Hated Tax in All the Land. With the Upper Chamber poised to vote on a property tax elimination plan, we suspect they can deal with it in Regular Session if all else fails. And anyway, aren’t ALL sessions kind of special in their own way?
Over on the House side, lawmakers are once again readying a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage. Now that the national discussion has moved on to the “Fight for 15,” we fully expect the state’s wage to rise to at least nine dollars an hour after this fight.
The State System of Higher Education is moving forward with its plan to radically cut costs, and potentially close some of the fourteen state schools. Before anyone wonders why we got to where we are, consider that the Commonwealth used to fund about 60% of the state schools’ budgets, as compared to 27% today. If we asked you to take a 33% pay cut, how would that work out for you?
Governor Wolf revealed this week that he has hired an outside firm to look under the hood of state government to find up to $1 billion in cost savings for the upcoming fiscal year. We understand the grumbling about the cost of the study ($1.8 million) but would like to also put it into a bit of context. If someone asked you to make a $1.8 million investment to receive $1 billion in return, you might consider that a pretty good deal. A Trump-like deal, even.
Meanwhile, Wolf is showing no signs that he is taking his foot off the gas when it comes to fighting opioid and heroin addiction. His upcoming budget will ask for $10 million in additional funds for treatment, and we don’t expect this will be the end of the wish list.
Governor Wolf this week announced that his current Chief of Staff Mary Isenhour will decamp for the campaign side of his operation, elevating current Deputy Chief Mike Brunelle into the top slot. Best of luck to our friends Mary and Mike as they shuffle the deck in the front office!
In our We Can’t Make This Up section this week, we find that there is so much crap that we can’t make up these days, we could write a book. But alas, we have things to do, so we take you to Australia, where you may have missed the OTHER phone call that happened. An Australian woman was so angry at her pot dealer jacking up his prices that she called the police to complain that she was being ripped off. She should seriously find some way to relax and chill out…
That’s what passes for news around here as we anxiously await Governor Wolf’s budget address, slated for Tuesday of next week. We will be there to cover every word, every reaction, and certainly every overreaction (there will be plenty) so be sure to look us up! Until then, 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