Wolf: Year One
With the first year of Thomas Westerman Wolf’s reign in the office of the Governor of Pennsylvania now complete, we take a look at his first 365 days, including a record 204 days without a state budget.
One year ago, Wolf began his first official remarks as PA Governor by thanking many high-level state officials, notably PA Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and House Speaker Mike Turzai.
Saylor presided over a turbulent year for the State Supreme Court: the Court picked up three new faces (Kevin Dougherty, Christine Donohue and David Wecht), while Justice Michael Eakin was suspended for his role in a now infamous email chain. Eakin will have a pre-trial conference in Harrisburg tomorrow.
Wolf’s inaugural words for Turzai are especially interesting one year on, as he looked to lay the groundwork for a bipartisan working relationship.
“Let me say a special thanks to Speaker Mike Turzai for reminding us when he was sworn in as Speaker of the House that we cannot take lightly the great history of democracy of which we are a part, and encouraging…all members of the legislature to meet with people across the aisle,” Wolf said.
In his inaugural address, Wolf emphasized that he is “not a product of our political system,” though some are beginning to wonder if he is becoming a victim of it.
Wolf kicked off his tenure with a fight over former Gov. Tom Corbett’s departing gift, Erik Arneson as the new Director of the Office of Open Records. Arneson sued Wolf after being fired on the Governor’s second day in office, and he has since been reinstated to his position.
Wolf has not signed a complete budget in his first year (though he did veto several), with the state operating on a partial, $23 billion spending plan while lawmakers continue “negotiating.” The Governor has also not been able to pass any of his tax proposals, including a natural gas severance tax – a cornerstone of his campaign.
While juggling fights over education funding, pension reform, new taxes and liquor privatization in his first year, Wolf also had to worry about a wild card in his administration, Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
One year ago today, we asked readers whether Gov. Wolf would have a positive approval rating today, with only 43% saying he would. Latest polling shows Wolf with an approval rating hovering around 50%, though it is unlikely to go up if Harrisburg remains idle.
- Meeting Pope Francis in Philadelphia
- Instituting a moratorium on the state’s death penalty
- Longest budget stalemate in state history, and still ongoing
- Attorney General Kathleen Kane
- Marcus Brown’s “recalled” nomination for State Police Commissioner