7/5 Ups & Downs: Budget Edition

The budget was finished on time, it increased spending across the board, and it didn’t raise taxes. And yet, it was a train wreck.

Down ArrowTom Corbett. The stakes were clear: to reverse a trend of bad headlines and bad numbers, the Governor needed to advance one of his three issues (liquor, pensions or transportation) by the budget deadline. He went 0-for-3. “None of us are going home until this gets done.” A simple sentence like that could have changed the Governor’s legacy. Instead, Corbett’s self-imposed unwillingness to go past a budget deadline empowered lawmakers to do the bare minimum. Corbett has zero momentum heading into his final summer before election year.

Down ArrowHouse GOP Leadership. Lots of lawmakers did lots of juggling, but the budget’s grand bargain fell apart in the House over the transportation bill. Too many Republicans refused to vote for a bill that raised taxes. That left Speaker Smith and Leader Turzai to court Democrats, who would be asked to put up more than half of the votes needed to pass the bill. But Dems said they wouldn’t carry the bill over the finish line without more control over its content (i.e. more spending, more support for mass transit). So it collapsed.

Up ArrowSenate GOP Leadership. Liquor privatization is a difficult, complicated issue. But Sens. Pileggi, Scarnati and McIlhinney found a way to cut the Gordian knot. They came up with a proposal that won the total support of the Republican caucus and had the bill poised to pass on the floor. It fell through because some supporters made their votes contingent on the House passing a transportation bill.

Up ArrowTom Murt. The Montco Republican state Rep. got many of his GOP colleagues to sign on to a bill to change the name of the Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services. It was a mildly controversial measure and opposed by conservatives, but passed into law this week.

Up ArrowJohn Gordner. What was a vote for liquor privatization worth to Senate GOP leadership? Ballpark, $175 million. That’s how much Sen. Gordner (R-Columbia) was able to direct toward technology investment via the Innovate PA program (funded by an auction of insurance tax credits) when he agreed to support the bill. The House later knocked it down to $100 million. But still.

Up ArrowDown ArrowPA Supreme Court. The state’s high court welcomed a new member this week: Superior Court Judge Correale Stevens (also a former state Rep). Refreshingly, his nomination was confirmed unanimously by the state Senate. The down side for SCOPA? This Philadelphia Magazine profile of Justices Ron Castille and Seamus McCaffery and their ongoing – and unflattering – feud.

Tweet of the week: State Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montco). She gave voice to what a lot of her moderate colleagues were thinking last week.

Facebook post of the week: State Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon). This week was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and Fleck got into the spirit. It’s a post so good it even garnered a news story, where you can read the whole thing.

Mike Fleck fb

3 Responses

  1. Don’t buy that R’s want Gov. Corbett to fail. The majority in Senate is tenuous w/ shifting demographics in SEPA, and few traditional House ‘D’ seats that can go ‘R’. A number of seats currently held by ‘Rs’ that could do ‘D’. Think they want Gov. Schwartz, McCord, or McGinty?

    Gov. Corbett failed to realize that an ‘on time’ budget in and of itself doesn’t show leadership, and it certainly doesn’t give the legislature any incentive to put up difficult votes on difficult issues like liquor, pensions, and transit. The opportunity was there, he didn’t seize it, and there is now no one outside the Gov’s Residence who thinks he can possibly win re-election in 2014.

  2. The legislature intentionally made the governor look bad because both parties in the House and Senate want him to lose in 2014. Corbett has done nothing to repair the damage he caused the institution while AG, his inept heavy-handed tactics since then and the ham-handed way he goes about things. There is a clash within the the GOP between the House and Senate members who want Corbett gone (hence their flirtation with Montco Commissioner Bruce Castor) and the party establishment of Asher, Gleason, and their partners in the business community who love how Corbett has lined their pockets who will pull out all the stops for Corbett and have closed ranks around him choking of funding for a rival candidate. The result? A Democrat beats Corbett and the GOP loses seats in both chambers. This result was from decisions made a decade ago which put Corbett in the AG’s seat. And that chicken is coming home to roost.

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