January 26, 2023

A new and rather eye-popping poll was released this week showing President Joe Biden holding a commanding seven-point lead over Donald Trump in Pennsylvania. Now for the reality check. If you believe EITHER candidate wins our purple state by seven points, you need to stop day drinking.

Perhaps the economic news of late has buoyed Biden’s boat. The fourth-quarter GDP number came in at a 3.3% increase this week, bringing the 2023 increase to 2.5%. Let’s jump into the Wayback Machine, Mr. Peabody, to the year 2022, when the Wall Street Journal opined there was a 100% chance of a recession in 2023, and J.P. Morgan’s Jamie Dimon warned us all to brace for a “hurricane of an economic downturn.” Billionaires, it turns out, do not necessarily need to be prescient to attain their wealth.

In related economic news, it turns out that Pennsylvania denizens can also be pleased that our unemployment rate once again stayed below the national average at 3.5%, and our workforce is larger today than it has ever been. Take that, New Jersey.

There was a primary election in New Hampshire this week, and so we were all once again forced to pretend that the opinions of six people in Dixville Notch actually matter. When the mud – er, dust – finally cleared, Donald Trump emerged victorious over Nikki Haley by 11 points. Trump then demanded that Haley drop out, and when she politely told him she’d see him in South Carolina, he asked the RNC to declare him the GOP nominee. Or, you know, to stop the count.

Trump himself will appear in Harrisburg this month for the NRA’s Presidential Forum, marking his first 2024 foray into the Keystone State. We get the sneaking suspicion that Joe Biden will not be asked to address said NRA forum, but we have not been able to nail that down as of press time. Chuckle.  Chuckle.

Biden and Senate Republicans worked on a comprehensive plan to address the border crisis, and for the first time in decades, it looked as though an immigration deal was within reach. But alas, election year politics crashed a big clown car into the proceedings and now the plan is on life support. Perhaps if this would have been avoidable should team Biden have engaged in this debate before two weeks ago.

Governor Shapiro, as most governors are wont to do, started leaking pieces of his budget address this week. Among the big-ticket items he will ask the General Assembly to tackle is a recommitment to higher education, a place where Pennsylvania currently ranks below Mississippi in investments. Surely that can’t be a high bar to get over, right?

The announcement comes on the heels of Penn State’s announcement that deep cuts may be in the offing as our land grant university sits on a $100 million deficit. We vaguely remember people warning about the effects of chronic underfunding of higher education. Weird how that works out.

Shapiro will also call for doubling funds for a grant program for first responders in Pennsylvania, continuing his commitment last year to public safety. This one should garner wide bipartisan support, because if you can’t find the coins to help firefighters, you may wanna re-evaluate what the job here really is.

A year into his administration, Team Shapiro still maintains the goal of getting Pennsylvania energy portfolio to 30% renewables by 2030. The road to get there, however, has been a rocky one. This is where our friends at Doral Renewables come in, with CEO Nick Cohen in the news this week taking you to the College of Energy Knowledge.

Lovely Luzerne County is now home to the first EV charging station in the state, brought to you by Grandpa Joe’s Biden Bucks. If it had been located in Bucks County, we could have called it Biden Bucks, Bucks. Anyway, the Pittston station is the first of many to come.

SEPTA officials set the entire southeastern part of the state on high alert, warning of 30% service cuts and 20% fare increases if the state doesn’t cough up more loot. SEPTA Twitter is currently a gas fire thanks to that little prediction. Spoiler alert: getting the state to cough up more mass transit lucre has historically been about as easy as driving a toaster through a car wash.

Wastewater analysis shows that a new COVID wave has struck, with up to a third of the population being exposed in the last month. So remember, avoid other humans at all costs for the next three months.

Since we have already covered – rather shamelessly, we might add – client news about Penn State, the Professional Firefighters and Doral, we may as well round it all out with a shout out to Flock Safety, which entered into a deal with the City of Allentown to make the city’s flock a bit safer.

As the budget address approaches, please make sure to stay up to date with all things fiscal by following us on the Triad socials, where we will give you a budget preview, a budget overview and finally, the Third Annual budget playlist, authored by our own Mike Manzo.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to Provo, Utah, where a 17-year-old was arrested for taping dead fish to a dozen ATM machines and at least one police cruiser. In true 17-year-old fashion, he lovingly filmed it all on social media with the tag line that “no fish were harmed in the process.”  Excuse us, Sir Jackwagon, the fish were DEAD! Doesn’t get much more harmy than that!

That’s what passes for news around here as January is finally getting ready to leave us all alone and die.  We will return next week like a new Marvel film that you really don’t wanna see but end up watching anyway because, hey, how bad can it be, right? From all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!