6/30 Morning Buzz

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a budget. More on that in a minute.

It’s a presidential day in Pennsylvania. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each visit Philadelphia today to bring in as much campaign cash as possible before tonight’s Q2 deadline. Romney plans a second stop – on his way out of town he’ll visit the Allentown Metal Works where Obama boasted about the federal stimulus in 2009… that has since shut down. Wonder if he’ll mention that? Meanwhile, the DNC will seek to preempt Romney’s visit with a conference call starring none other than Governor Rendell.

It promises to be an interesting day and we’ll be on the ground for all the public events. Stay tuned to PoliticsPA and Sy Snyder’s twitter account for updates and observations.

Like we said before, we have a budget. The bill is basically identical to the one passed by the Senate yesterday, and so are the GOP and Dem talking points. Lawmakers will have tomorrow to boast of the first on-time budget in 8 million years. The budget cuts spending for the first time since Grover Cleveland was President and Bud George was only in his third term.

Will Pennsylvania ever move to an open primary system? Reform advocates have been pushing the change for some time, saying it encourages more participation. Critics argue that primaries are for party loyalists, not fair-weather voters. What do you think? (and check out the feature).

And Daily News writer Will Bunch socked it to Governor Corbett yesterday – check out the unflattering headlines that graced the DN cover yesterday.

PoliticsPA Reports

Romney to Raise $$ In Philly, Speak In Allentown
PoliticsPA has obtained a Romney campaign memo about the Governor’s plans tomorrow in Philadelphia, as well as the members of his PA Finance Committee.

Will Pa. Ever See Open Primaries?
The growing transition of voters, according to Eugene DePasquale (D-York), toward third parties “began with Watergate and has been picking up steam ever since.”

Barrett to Run Santorum S.C. Operations
Former Congressman Gresham Barrett (R-SC), from Westminster, will serve as Santorum’s South Carolina Chairman and National Energy Policy Chairman.

Afternoon Budget Rundown: State House Debates Budget
In the day after the state Senate passed a budget plan along party lines, government agencies, state universities, teachers and a raft of advocates have offered their reactions as the state House attempts to ensure that Governor Tom Corbett has the chance to sign the plan into law before the start of the new fiscal year.

Bunch v. Corbett
Daily News writer Will Bunch has two high-profile articles about Governor Corbett today, neither of which is very flattering. Nor is the cover of today’s DN, for that matter.

PhillyNow: Philly Anti-War Demonstrators Protest Whatever’s Going On Libya
PhillyNow: Philly Will Take Another Hit If The Federal Debt Ceiling Is Not Raised
PhillyNow: Nader Pissed About Getting Kicked Off 2004 Pa. Ballot? He’s Not Alone
Pennsylvania Ave.: Bills, Bills, Bills
Politico: Rick Santorum: Health care ruling ‘disappointing’
The Times: The Future of Same-Sex Marriage Ballot Measures
Washington Post: Rhode Island Senate passes bill allowing same-sex civil unions; governor says he’ll sign
The Awl: Fun With Maps: Seven Peculiar U.S. Boarders (PA 12th district)

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Pa. House passes $27.15 budget; awaits Corbett’s signature
Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Budget passes house, on its way to governor
Patriot Daily News: Analysis: Pennsylvania budget plan is lean and on time
Independent News: Pennsylvania legislature passes budget with cuts
Fox Philadelphia: Public School Cuts Hit Philly The Hardest
Fox Philadelphia: Pa. May Allow Sunday Hunting
WHYY Newsworks: Gov. Corbett Signs Bill Giving Bars More Flexibility for Happy Hour
Capitol Ideas: Dinner Hour #PaBudget Update: Vouchers Delayed Until Fall
Capitol Ideas: Midday Budget Update: We’re Working On It
Capitol Ideas: Mid-Morning Budget Update
Capitol Ideas: House Passes The #PaBudget: Next Stop Governor’s Desk
Capitol Ideas: Wednesday Morning Coffee: The Final Countdown
Pennsylvania Independent: Senate caucus operations see bump in spending
Pennsylvania Independent: Natural gas impact fee plans dead until fall
Pennsylvania Independent: State budget goes to Corbett, other bills coming
Tribune-Review: Budget Passes House, On Its Way To Governor
CBS: Charles Schumer’s Wall Street Dance
Penn Live: Just Before Pa. Budget Deadline, Gov. Tom Corbett Pushes For School Vouchers
Fox: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett Signs Into Law An Expanded Right of the Use of Deadly Force in Self Defense
The Republic: Corbett, GOP Push Stall In Late Push For Pa. Bill to Expand School Choice, Create Vouchers

Heard In The Hall: Will City Council Members Say Yea or Nay To Salary Increase?
Fox Philadelphia: Four City Council Members Taking Raises
PhillyNow: Redistricting In The 7th City Council District: How Will Latinos Fare?
Inquirer: Rep. Bob Brady, Others To Rescue Overbrook Youth Team After Equipment Heist
PhillyNow: The City Can’t Decide If Sex Clubs Are Legal
WHYY Newsworks: Legislation Will Likely Bring Independent Safety Monitor Back To Phila. Schools

Philly Suburbs
Pottstown Mercury: Corbett pushes bill that would help children attend private schools
Pottstown Mercury: Union Twp. contemplates outsourcing roads dept.
Philly Burbs: Partisan debate as Pa. budget nears final approval
Philly Burbs: Gov., GOP push stalls on Pa. private-school bill
Daily Times: Chester Upland manages to reduce cuts in budget (With Video)
Daily Times: Pa. set to sweep Delco looking for unlicensed dogs
Montgomery Media: Whitpain board grants subdivision use for Blue Bell parcel WSJ: Ex-Pa. US Rep. Murphy Named to West Point Board
Daily Local: Conservation Groups Support Open-Space Tax Incentive
Philly Burbs: Four Candidates, One View: No Runway
Levittown Patch: Bucks County ‘Chaotic, Haphazard,’ County Commissioner Says

Upper St. Clair Patch: Election Candidates to Seek Laughs at Benefit For Children
Pittsburgh Post Gazette: City council considers advertising on bridges
Early Returns: Toomey: don’t ‘break’ internet
Early Returns: A sin and a shame

Daily American: Berlin Approves Budget With 2 Percent Tax Increase
Observer-Reporter: SE Greene OKs Budget With No Tax Increase
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Connellsville Area Balances Budget With Fund Balance
Altoona Mirror: Williamsburg Taxes Rising
Beaver County Times: School District Hike Taxes, Make Cuts To Balance Budgets
Beaver County Times: South Side Cuts Positions, Hikes Taxes

Lehigh Valley
WFMZ: Congressman Tours Local Company That Makes Nuclear Equipment
Lehigh Valley Live: Charlie Dent Is Lead Co-Sponsor Of Stem Cell Research Bill, Newspaper Reports
SouthWhitehallPatch: Parkland Officials Name Board Room For Retiring Superintendent
Life News: Bill To Force Embryonic Research Funding Gets New GOP Backer

South Central
The Hill: Lawmaker Seek To Freeze Paychecks, Put End to Automatic Salary Raises

AP via Times Leader: Partisan debate as Pa. budget nears final approval
Times Leader: Jermyn mayor takes over for convicted commissioner
Citizens Voice: Leighton, county leaders discuss Sterling’s future
AP via Wayne Independent: Corbett  urges ‘caution’ after bin Laden killing
Wayne Independent: Groups join to protect Delaware River from drilling
Standard Speaker: Senate passes $27.15B plan
The Daily Review: Senate approves budget along party lines
The Daily Review: Rep. Marino co-sponsors bill to overturn Roe v. Wade
Go Lackawanna: Local Legislators evaluate touch choices in Pa. budget
Go Lackawanna: Barletta backs funding for fisheries
Go Lackawanna: State official argues for more funds to keep eye on drilling
AP via Go Lackawanna: Casey asks probe of evac plans for nukes
AP via Go Lackawanna: Natural gas drilling fee is pulled from state house agenda
Times-Tribune: Marino in Europe On Foreign Affairs Trip
Go Lackawanna: Despite funding cuts, state colleges press for passage of budget

Baer Growls: It’s All About The Kids
Michael M. Rosen, Politico: Long primary can toughen nominee
Stephen Moore, The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Doesn’t Add Up
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: ‘Log rolling’ good & bad
Times Leader Editorial: Stop dithering over gas drilling
Mark Scolforo, Pocono Record: Agenda for Corbett, GOP assembly rates an ‘incomplete’
Standard Speaker Editorial:Judicial conduct board must adopt suggested reforms
York Dispatch, Op-Ed: Support pancreatic cancer research act
Early Returns: Daily Santorum: Cracked rear view
Early Returns: Corbett’s scrubbed bio
Pittsburgh Tribune Review Editorial: The budget: The deficit
Pittsburgh Tribune Review Editorial: Public info

Update: Romney to Raise $$ in Philly, Speak in Allentown

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Update 6:30pm: The Romney campaign made official a stop in Allentown tomorrow. He will give a press conference in front of the Allentown Metal Works – the site of a 2009 speech by President Obama boasting the success of the federal stimulus. The plant has since closed down.

Tomorrow is the last day of the second quarter, and Mitt Romney is spending it in Pennsylvania.

The former Massachusetts Governor will visit the city of brotherly love tomorrow morning for breakfast and lunch fundraisers, according to a Romney campaign memo obtained by PoliticsPA.

“We have a number of fundraising events planned in Pennsylvania this summer, and know you have all been actively involved in making these efforts successful,” wrote Romney National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick.

“Our kick-off events in Pennsylvania will be held on June 30th, when Governor Romney will be in Philadelphia for a breakfast and luncheon reception. The Governor is looking forward to several Pennsylvania events coming up later this summer as well.”

Sources indicate Romney may hold another event in Pennsylvania tomorrow afternoon that will be open to the public.

It’s unlikely that Romney would run into President Obama, who is also scheduled for a fundraiser tomorrow in Philly; the President isn’t scheduled to arrive until later in the afternoon.

Romney’s Pennsylvania Finance Committee includes the types of Republicans fundraisers one may expect: developers, attorneys, and executives.

Tom Caramanico, President of McCormick Taylor (engineering firm).
Carlene and Pasquale Deon, owner of Pat Deon Beverages and WBCB-AM (where Merrill Reese announces Philadelphia Eagles Games).
J. Brett Harvey, the CEO of Consol Energy.
John Ireland, Principal of Valley Forge Advisors Investment Corp.
Charles G. Kopp, attorney with the firm Cozen O’Connor.
Ira Lubert, founder of Lubert-Adler real estate investment company.
Hilarie and Mitchell Morgan, President of Mitchell Properties.
Marie and Patrick O’Connor, Vice Chairman of Cozen O’Connor.
Jeff Orleans, President of Orleans Homebuilders.
William Sasso, of Stradey and Ronon, co-chair of Corbett transition team.
Nancy and Dick Schmidt, Orthopaedic surgeon.
Jim Shacklett, owner, National Label Company, printing.

Bunch v. Corbett

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Daily News writer Will Bunch has two high-profile articles about Governor Corbett today, neither of which is very flattering. Nor is the cover of today’s DN, for that matter.

The cover story tells the tale of wealthy Oklahoma energy mogul Aubrey McClendon, who contributed $250,000 to Corbett’s 2004 Attorney General campaign (which yielded the closest result in state history – a 2 point win).

That investment arguably changed not just the history but also the political direction of the state. The influx of cash helped Corbett narrowly win the closest attorney general’s race in Pennsylvania history and propelled him toward the governor’s mansion, where he has now pledged to turn the Keystone State into “the Texas of the natural-gas boom.”

Meanwhile, the hard-charging company run by McClendon, Chesapeake Energy, is the largest and most active driller for natural gas both in Pennsylvania and across the United States – and its environmental record here is under fire for two major well accidents in the past year and allegations from upstate residents of tainted well water.

McClendon wrote a number of large checks that year – before the industry begin looking seriously at Marcellus shale in PA – and it’s impossible to know whether the contribution was shrewd or lucky.

Waste (and PR) Management

Bunch’s second piece is the story of the Governor’s resume, and a gap therein.

For four years, Corbett worked as an attorney and spokesman for the nation’s largest trash-hauling and disposal firm, Waste Management Inc., in which he advocated for his employer to dump massive amounts of out-of-state garbage in Pennsylvania.

But now that Corbett is governor, his official state biography tells a different story.

His stint flacking for Waste Management has been tossed down what writer George Orwell famously called “the memory hole.” Instead, Corbett’s years in the private sector are described in a way that would cause a casual reader to infer that Corbett started a law practice in 1997 that in fact didn’t exist until five years later.

Afternoon Budget Rundown: State House Begins Floor Debate

In the day after the state Senate passed a budget plan along party lines, government agencies, state universities, teachers and a raft of advocates have offered their reactions as the state House attempts to ensure that Governor Tom Corbett has the chance to sign the plan into law before the start of the new fiscal year.

The Associated Press’ Mark Scolforo has an update on the House floor debate, which got underway shortly after 3pm on Wednesday.

State-funded universities will indeed likely experience cuts – though not nearly as drastic as the ones included in the Governor’s original budget proposal, Jan Murphy writes.  And the heads of those universities are promising to tamp down tuition increases as they seek to make up for the lost funds.

“Leaders of the state-funded colleges pledged to keep tuition increases low and not ask students to cover the entire loss of state aid,” the story reads.  “And while they don’t like getting a funding cut, they are grateful the cuts were softened through the budget-making process and hope state revenues grow to allow some funding restoration next year.”

Penn State’s agricultural research and education efforts will bear a 19 percent cut, the Patriot News’ Jeff Frantz notes in a brief item posted Wednesday afternoon.

Governor Corbett’s school voucher plan, meanwhile, is facing more troubled passage, Murphy noted.  Over at Capitol Ideas, John Micek is reporting that the package could include plans to convert troubled schools to charter schools or essentially replace soon-to-be-expired state funding for charters.

The United Way’s state chairman, meanwhile, called the budget “totally unfair” and accused lawmakers of “trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor,” according to a report filed Wednesday afternoon by Borys Krawczeniuk at the Citizens Voice.  Krawczeniuk also includes a consise rundown of specific cuts and funding restorations included in the current budget agreement.

Will Pa. Ever See Open Primaries?

By Judith Ayers, Contributing Writer 

The growing transition of voters, according to Eugene DePasquale (D-York), toward third parties “began with Watergate and has been picking up steam ever since.”

“Most people don’t easily identify themselves and sit in one box. Both parties have disappointed the majority at one point in time,” which is one major reason why DePasquale is pushing recent ballot access legislation.

Instead of using the two-party system to benefit him Representative Depasquale disclosed how he saw it as encouraging the “marketplace of ideas” through ballot access measures [the end to this sentence doesn’t really make sense… please make clearer’. This would enforce and encourage a competitive democracy he said.

Though Depasquale stated he has not yet faced opposition from any single group,“the current two-party structure is against the reforms”

The big message that DePasquale wanted to express is that regardless of party or affiliation “the ‘minor candidates’ should be part of the debate.”

Independents are joining third parties in pressing Pennsylvania’s closed primary system. On the forefront of this growing movement is State Rep. Eugene DePasquale’s introduction of of a four-bill reform package, known as the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA).

According to the news release the first bill would allow voters registered as independents to cast ballots in Pennsylvania’s primary elections. The second bill would require corporations to obtain shareholder approval before contributing an annual aggregate sum exceeding $10,000.

The third piece of legislation allows all voters to cast ballots up to 15 days in advance of Election Day in both the primary and general elections.The fourth and final bill in the package would make general election competition among all parties a reality by equalizing the ability of Independent and third-party candidates to run for public office in Pennsylvania.

The VCA challenges the two-party system in two main areas. One through legislation and secondly through the non-partisan grassroots movement to open up the primary system in Pa. Groups and political parties alike have joined the PA Ballot Access Coalition. The supporters of open primaries have banded together excluding partianship, aiming for one goal, free elections.

PoliticsPA spoke with Barry Kauffman of Common Cause about their efforts to clean up Pennsylvania’s elections. Common Cause has been working for over a decade to improve and open up the election process here.

Some of Common Cause’s problems with the current system include: electronic voting machines do not produce a voter verified paper ballot, making it impossible to verify the accuracy of the vote counts; far too many election sites are inaccessible to disabled voters or the elderly; voter registration processes and election day identification requirements  can disenfranchise legitimate potential voters; state laws unduly restrict access to the ballot for minor party and independent candidates.

However, Kauffman is hopeful for the efforts and strides being made in ballot access.

“Since the Ralph Nader situation in Pennsylvania there has been elevated interest. Minor and third parties have gotten their acts together, unified and started lobbying.”

Kauffman says that while there has been a rise in recent years of Independent and minor party registration. The ballot requirements for them are still unfair and biased “just not fair, just not the correct way to do things”

While Common Cause focuses on electoral reform and DePasquale focuses on independent voters, the common thread that is that the now narrow view of elections and parties dramatically hurt democracy here in Pennsylvania. Both issues are essential to revitalizing the competitive marketplace of ideas, in order to have better elections. We won’t continue to have a free and open democracy, they argue, until we get free and open elections in Pennsylvania.

Barrett to Run Santorum S.C. Operations

By David Grim, Contributing Writer

Former Congressman Gresham Barrett (R-SC), from Westminster, will serve as Santorum’s South Carolina Chairman and National Energy Policy Chairman.

Barrett, a former four term congressman from the 3rd Congressional district of South Carolina, was consistently rated as one of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives. Prior to his years in the House, Barrett was a Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives for 6 years. In 2010, Barrett sought the Republican nomination for Governor, losing in a runoff to current Governor Nikki Haley.

“Since he was first elected to Congress, Gresham has emerged as not just a conservative leader in South Carolina, but a national conservative leader,” said Senator Santorum. “I am humbled by his support and his work on behalf of our campaign. I am honored to not just receive his endorsement, but to call him a friend as we stand side-by-side to fight for the America we both cherish.”

Congressman Barrett responded by stating, “It is without hesitation that I am endorsing my friend Rick Santorum for President. Rick has not just checked the boxes on conservative positions, but led the fight on the tough issues facing our country. He has shown his commitment to the values South Carolinians care most about, and I am anxious to help Rick become the 45th President of the United States.”

6/29 Morning Buzz

Good morning politicos, and welcome to the buzz.

Last night the Senate passed a $27.15 billion approps bill, meaning that the state will have an on-time budget for the first time in 8 years. Republicans are touting the no-new-taxes fiscal restraint, Democrats are lamenting cuts to education and public welfare. The beat goes on.

Eugene DePasquale and Patrick Murphy have picked up some endorsements in enemy territory, so to speak. The York County lawmaker turned Auditor General candidate gained support in Pittsburgh, which he and potential rival Dan Onorato each grew up. The Bucks County former congressman won a list of supporters in Luzerne County including former Rep. Paul Kanjorski, down the road from opponent Kathleen Kane’s home.

Governer Corbett signed a tort reform compromise into law yesterday that reflects most of what business groups were asking. He also signed the ‘Castle Doctrine’ bill, which actually legalizes shooting firearms into the air in celebration of the bill’s passage.

Is it 48,000, or less than 10,000?  Left-leaning think tank Keystone Research Center continues its tussle with the Marcellus shale industry over the number of jobs created by drilling. It’s the first significant attempt by drilling policy critics to target the industry’s trump card argument: jobs.

And our Rick Santorum has an op-ed in Politico today, arguing that Republicans in Congress should refuse to raise the debt ceiling without passing the balanced budget amendment. Hey, no one ever accused him of thinking small.


PS. It should come as little surprise that most of today’s headlines fall under the “statewide” category

PoliticsPA Reports

Senate Approves $27.15 Billion Budget
Late Tuesday afternoon the State Senate passed the $27.15 billion budget with a 30-20 vote. The budget, after a party-line vote, now heads to the House. The new budget proposes no tax increases and softens some of Governor Corbett’s earlier cuts.

Gov. Corbett Signs Tort Reform Compromise
Today Governor Corbett delivered one of his campaign promises by signing the Fair Share Act, making Pennsylvania the next state to adopt comprehensive tort reform.

Kanjorski, Luzerne Pols Endorse Murphy for AG
At a fundraiser tonight in Wilkes-Barre, Murphy will be joined by Congressman Paul Kanjorski, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, and State Representatives Michael Carroll, Phyllis Mundy and Eddie Day Pashinski.

PR Battle Continues Over Marcellus Shale Jobs
Marcellus shale gas drilling advocates have wielded the ultimate trump card in every debate: jobs. Now, as lawmakers prepare to debate a possible fee or tax, a left-leaning think tank is looking for chinks in the armor.

DePasquale Pulls In Pittsburgh Support
State Rep. Eugene DePasquale’s nascent bid for Auditor General is finding support in western PA.

Rick Santorum, Politico: No debt ceiling increase without Balanced Budget Amendment
Inquirer: Sen. Grassley Calls For Probe Of Philadelphia Housing Authority Spending
New York Times: Lawmakers Seek Inquiry of Natural Gas Industry
The Washington Post: Justices who will shape Supreme Court’s future are matching pairs
Roll Call: Top 5 Member- Vs. – Member Battles

AP: Natural Gas Levy Vote Pulled From Pa. House Agenda
AP: Gov. Corbett Signs Bill To Expand ‘Castle Doctrine’
AP: Gov. Corbett Links Pa. Budget To Other Policy Goals
AP: Rep. Joe Brennan Faces More Charges
AP: Shale Driller Slapped With $180K Fine In Pa.
AP: Senate Gets Bill To Make 911 Caller Info Secret
Early Returns: Fortune telling in PA House
Post – Gazette: Judge must decide DeWeese trial site
Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Corbett signs lawsuit reforming ‘Fair Share Act’
Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Senate approves state budget
Early Returns: Gov says he’d veto a drilling fee
Capitol Ideas: Mid afternoon Budget Update: House Dems To Backpedal On State University Funding
Capitol Ideas: Senate Panel Goes Fourth And Long On Eligibility Rules For High School Sports
Capitol Ideas: House To Begin Shale Impact Fee Debate This Afternoon
Capitol Ideas: Norquist Does “The Colbert Report.”
State House Sound Bites: Natural gas drilling impact fee debated in PA House
Pennsylvania Independent: Natural gas impact fee plans dead until fall
Pennsylvania Independent: Time has likely run out on school voucher bills
Pennsylvania Independent: Senate Appropriations Committee passes budget
State House Sound Bites: Mayor Thompson presents Act 47 plan
State House Sound Bites: State-related school funding may be delayed
Capitol Ideas: Dinner Hour Budget Update: Republicans Let Out The Gas
Capitol Ideas: Prime-Time Budget Update: The #PaBudget Clears The Senate
Altoona Mirror: Lawmakers Debate Drilling, Education
WJAC: Gov. Corbett Signs ‘Castle Doctrine’ Expansion Bill
WTAE: Pa. Allows More Use Of Deadly Force For Self-Defense
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pa. Budget Poised to Beat Deadline
Times Online: Senator Casey Calls For Probe of Nuke Evacuation Plans
Times Online: Natural Gas Drilling Levy On Tap In Pa. House
Times Online: Bill Will Temporarily Suspend School Board Powers
Times Online: Pa. Senate OKs Bill To Limit Harrisburg Bankruptcy
Political News: New Senators, Including Casey, Push For Immediate Action on Prescription Drug Shortages
BusinessWeek: Pa. Bill To Limit Civil Liability Heads to Corbett
Penn Live: Gov. Tom Corbett’s Administration Has Made No Decisions Yet About State Management Salaries
Forbes: Pa. Budget Unfolds Amid Drilling, Higher Ed. Debate

Fox Philadelphia: Shale Tax Will Not Bail Out Philadelphia
WHYY Newsworks: Nutter Vetoes Mandatory Sick Leave In Philly
Inquirer: Philadelphia City Worker Links Firing To Renee Tartaglione
PhillyNow: Knox Changes Back To Dem…Is This The End?
ABC: Rep. Bob Brady Reacts To Thieves Jeopardizing Local Football Team’s Season
Philly.com: Labor Dispute Is Family Court Project’s Latest Snag, Rep. Brady Reacts

Philly Suburbs
Pottstown Mercury: Westboro Baptist claims it protested at Dunn’s crash site
Pottstown Mercury: Corbett links Pa. budget to property tax issues
Pottstown Mercury: Pennsylvania budget unfolds amid drilling, higher ed debate
Pottstown Mercury: State representative charged with DUI faces more charges
Philly Burbs: Plan to rename roadway in honor of fallen officer moves forward
BrynMawr-Gladwyne Patch: DA Office Wins Victory In County Ethics Ordinance

CBS KDKA: Q & A with Jack Shea
Sewickley PA Patch: Mayor Ravenstahl To Announce Thursday Hines Ward and Kym Johnson Day
Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh Controller Issues User-Friendly Financial Report
Early Returns: Kaufmann’s Clock revisited

Altoona Mirror: School District Budget Cuts Not So Deep
Daily American: Somerset Borough Joins Bakersville Water Plan
WJAC: Fees Getting Cut At Raystown
WJAC: Gas Industry Water Use, Recreation Impact Highlights Reservoir Draw Down Meeting
Tribune-Democrat: Board Puts Off Vote On Tax Increase
Tribune-Review: Connellsville School Board to Act On 2011-12 Spending Plan Tonight
Observer-Reporter: House Approved Moratorium On Court-Ordered Reassessments, That Was Sponsored By Rep. Saccone
Observer-Reporter: Rep. Ramaley and Rep. Veon Reimbursed Money
Early Returns: Rep. Shuster Does Not Want Johnstown After Redistricting Jockeying

Lehigh Valley
WFMZ: Congressman Tours Local Company That Makes Nuclear Equipment

Times Leader: Lokuta to file appeal with U.S. Supreme Court
Times Leader: Smallacombe selected as Lackawanna County Commissioner
Times Leader: Corbett may veto proposed gas tax
Times Leader: Corbett links Pa. budget to other policy goals
Times Online: Pa. Rep. Brennan Charged With DUI, Faces More Charges
AP via Times Leader: Pa. Budget vote planned in Senate
AP via Citizens Voice: Corbett signs bill on right to use deadly force
AP via Citizens Voice: Pa. Senate Oks bill to limit Harrisburg bankruptcy
AP via Citizens Voice: Shale driller slapped with $180K fine in Pa.
AP via Citizens Voice: Pa. Senate begins debate on $27.15B budget
Standard Speaker: NEPA Schools still lose $51.5M in revamped budget
Pocono Record: Pa. Senate gets bill to make 911 caller info secret
North Central Pa: Marino Disagrees With move on Oil Reserve

North by Northwest
Times Online: New Castle: Help Veterans, Rep. Sainato To Have American Legion Representative In His New Castle Office Next Month
Erie Times-News: Name the Governor’s Puppies
Erie Times-News: Erie County Councilman charged again for driving under suspended license
Erie Times-News: Census: More students living in college dorms
Centre-Daily Times: State College School Board OK’s budget-Nicole
Early Returns: Mike Kelly Goes Viral
Daily Review: Rep. Marino and Rep. Thompson Send Joint Letter To Obama In Support Of Gov. Corbett’s Help For Five Counties

Baer Growls: Time To Get Rid of Lawmakers Gym and Replace It With a Rehab Clinic?
PhillyNow: Gov. Corbett Signs ‘Common-Sense’ Castle Doctrine Bill
Dave Davies, WHYY Newsworks Blog: Say Good Night, Tom
Mark Guydish, Times Leader: Spend or save, we still have to pay those pesky taxes
Citizens Voice Editorial: Expand use of in-court cameras
WHYY Newsworks Column: Suggestions for Ackerman On How To Spend Her Bonus
Rick Santorum, Politico: The courage to balance the budget
Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Sick health
Pittsburgh Post Gazette Editorial: Forked tongue: the House sends a mixed message on Libya’s war
Pittsburgh Post Gazette Editorial: Happier hours: The legislature lightens up on the liquor code
Pittsburgh Post Gazette Editorial: Climate bully: Obama needs to heed Gore on the environment
Altoona Mirror, Editorial: Happy-hour process maddening
PhillyBurbs: Dark ages deal
York Dispatch, Op-Ed: Support pancreatic cancer research act

Senate Approves $27.15 Billion Budget

By Chris Bowman, Staff Writer

Late Tuesday afternoon the State Senate passed the $27.15 billion budget with a 30-20 vote. The budget, after a party-line vote, now heads to the House. The new budget proposes no tax increases and softens some of Governor Corbett’s earlier cuts.

“This bill represents a fiscally responsible, sustainable budget with no tax increases,” Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) said on the Senate floor. “This is a remarkable break from past budgeting decisions. In prior decades the first instinct was to raise taxes, not to make the difficult decisions necessary for government to live within its means.”

This may be the first budget completed on time in the past nine years. The new budget is 3% less than the Commonwealth’s budget for this current fiscal year, which ends Thursday. It also marks the first decrease in the budget since 2001.

The Republican majority passed the budget despite Democratic concerns that it protects tax breaks for corporations while cutting school aid and programs for the poor, environment, and children.

Governor Corbett seemed pleased, announcing after the budget passed that the Republicans managed to “hold the line on taxes, [and] hold the line on spending.” Senator Pileggi echoed this stance, describing the budget as “fiscally responsible” and “sustainable.”

Not all legislators were pleased, as Democratic Appropriations chair Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) explains, “We’re sitting on an extra, what will probably be by June 30th, an extra $700-million dollars in budget surplus,” and “The fact is there are dollars to be spent and invested in issues people care most about.”

Corbett disagreed, claiming it was a “so-called” surplus and that “more revenue has come in, but we still have a deficit… We have spending that has to be done in the future, we don’t think that next year is going to be much rosier – if at all – than this year.”

Though 14 publicly-funded state universities across the Commonwealth face 18% budget decreases, Senator Pileggi was quick to highlight state funding for public education. The senate allotted an extra $268 million for basic education and an additional $368 million for higher education over budget cuts proposed by Gov. Corbett earlier this year.

Integral in Senate passing the budget was the delay of a vote on the divisive natural-gas-drilling impact fee.

The budget is expected to pass the House and will then make its way to Corbett’s desk.

Kanjorski, Luzerne Pols Endorse Murphy for AG

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Patrick Murphy has picked up the support of some big names in Luzerne County Democratic politics.

At a fundraiser tonight in Wilkes-Barre, Murphy will be joined by Congressman Paul Kanjorski, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, and State Representatives Michael Carroll, Phyllis Mundy and Eddie Day Pashinski.

One of his opponents in the race, Kathleen Kane, hails from Scranton in neighboring Lackawanna County where she served as assistant District Attorney.

Murphy’s campaign played up the Congressman’s NEPA connection.

“Patrick has strong ties to Northeastern Pennsylvania and has earned considerable support there for his campaign,” said spokesman Nat Binns. “He went to King’s College where he joined the Army as an ROTC cadet. His brother JJ Murphy served as the City Administrator of Wilkes-Barre under Mayor Tom Leighton.”

Kanjorski served in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre-based congressional district from 1985 until his defeat by Rep. Lou Barletta.

It’s also not the first time Kanjorski has sided with Murphy over a Democrat from NEPA. He reportedly cast the tie-breaking vote to turn the late Jack Murtha’s seat on the Appropriations Committee over to the young Congressman in 2010 – instead of neighboring Congressman Chris Carney.

Former Philly prosecutor Dan McCaffery is the other announced Democrat in the race.

And here is the host committee:

Kieran Casey
Paul Falzone
Melissa Foley
Robyn and Kristopher Jones
Erin Lavelle
Molly and Frank Hoegen
Colleen and John J. Murphy
Patrice and Joe Persico
Tracey and David Selingo
Robert Thomas
Margery and Murray Ufberg
Chuck Volpe

DePasquale Pulls in Pittsburgh Support

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

State Rep. Eugene DePasquale’s nascent bid for Auditor General is finding support in western PA.

Several of his House colleagues and other Allegheny County politicos will co-host a fundraiser for the York lawmaker and Pittsburgh native, put together by Khari Mosley (husband of State Rep. and Allegheny Controller candidate Chelsa Wagner).

Wagner will be on hand, along with Dom Costa, David Dix, Marc Gergely, Bill Kortz, Nick Kotik, Bob Matzie and former Rep. Lisa Bennington. Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto will be there as well (the full host committee is listed in the invite below).

The event is being held on July 27 at Ava in East Liberty. The cost to attend is an affordable $25.

It’s well that DePasquale is working to strengthen his foothold in Pittsburgh, where his grandfather Eugene “Jeep” DePasquale served on City Council for decades. A source close to Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, who handily won last year’s Democratic primary for Governor, is still leaning toward a run for Auditor General himself.

Current AG Jack Wagner is term limited.

Our compliments to Jim O’Toole of the Post-Gazette, who summed it up as best as anyone could sum it up:

“DePasquale’s July 27 fundraiser will be a homecoming of sorts for the Central Catholic grad, whose grandfather was the late Eugene Jeep DePasquale, the late president of Pittsburgh’s city Council.   It’s also noteworthy because of a couple of other connections in the small world of Pittsburgh politics.  Mr. Mosley, a veteran Democratic operative, is married to Rep. Chelsa Wagner, the Democratic nominee for county controller, and the niece of the man Mr. DePasquale wants to succeed, state Auditor General Jack Wagner.   The state Constitution bars Mr. Wagner from seeking a third term.  Another figure reportedly eying the auditor general contest is county Executive Dan Onorato, who’s run against General Wagner a couple of times and who like Jeep and Wagner is a city council veteran.  Mr. Wagner defeated Mr. Onorato in a state Senate race, but lost to him in the 2010 Democratic primary for governor.  And another thing, Mr. Wagner says he’s thinking about making a return to the fifth floor of the City-County Building where they all had their council offices.  He said last week that he’s considering a run for mayor in 2013.   Got all that?  They’ll be a quiz.”

Here’s the complete host committee:

Kevin Acklin
Damon Andrews
Matthew Arena
Fmr. Rep. Lisa Bennington
Andrea Boykowycz
Rep. Dom Costa
David Dix
Jennifer England
George Fitch
Rep. Marc Gergely
Dan Gilman
Sue Kerr
Rep. Bill Kortz
Rep. Nick Kotik
Lynette Lederman
Stan Lederman
Rep. Bob Matzie
Matt Merriman-Preston
Khari Mosley
Chuck Pascal
City Councilman Bill Peduto
Linda Piso
Karen Rollins-Fitch
Amy Jude Smotzer
Martin Michael Smotzer
Connie Sukernek
Pat Sweeney
Rep. Chelsa Wagner

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