April 14, 2023

President Joe Biden went to Ireland this week, which seemed to really cheese off one of the White House pool reporters (whose network rhymes with Box Crews), who asked if his trip wasn’t just a “taxpayer-funded family reunion.” Well, we see we’ve returned to civility and seriousness in this country!

Our own John Fetterman makes his triumphant return to the U.S. Senate next week, after his battle with depression. We wish him the best of health as he takes his seat in the most exclusive club in the world.

Another batch of classified documents took a walk down Main Street, as a young Air National Guardsman (who apparently was feeling rather espionage-y) dumped information on the Ukraine War into a chat room. Washington leaks like a very large and dysfunctional sieve. What the hell is twenty-something guardsman doing with classified documents anyway? We ask this rhetorically, because we have a sneaky feeling Speaker Kevin McCarthy is already planning on asking that very question.

The Tennessee legislature last week took the extraordinary steps of expelling two lawmakers for causing an anti-gun kerfuffle on their House floor, only to see them reinstated by their local cities just days later.  In the annals of Things That Were a Giant Waste of Time, this is now second only to Geraldo Rivera’s prime-time unveiling of Al Capone’s vault, which Capone himself was not in.

Back in the Keystone State, our revenue collections are still running $1.1 billion above estimate with no signs of slowing down. With only three months of revenue left to collect (and the always-huge May collections being one of those months), it is a pretty safe bet that lawmakers, should they so choose, can feel comfortable tossing around some scratch this June.

Pennsylvania is also poised to receive $200 million in broadband funding this year, which will serve an estimated 44,000 Pennsylvanians who currently have what is essentially “no G” service. That’s the good news. The bad news is that about 500,000 Pennsylvanians are in need of a boost. So, back to the good news, there are about a billion more clams from the feds waiting in the wings.

A bill was introduced to legalize so-called skill games in Pennsylvania, games that look and act suspiciously like slot machines but require skill to play, that skill often requiring the player push two buttons instead of one. This is your annual reminder that the state’s casino industry dumps BILLIONS into the state’s economy and is responsible for tens of thousands of jobs. So yeah, let’s cut them off at the knees. Also, DID YOU KNOW that the effective tax rate on slot machine revenue in Pennsylvania is 54%?  Name another industry in PA that pays that tax rate. We will wait.

As the House and Senate budget hearings wind down, the Department of Human Services had its turn under the heat lamp. It is very difficult in these settings to dive too deeply into anything that DHS covers, because it covers damn near everything and spends about $19 billion year. As departments go, this one is the Mammoth Car (shameless Speed Racer reference.)

Young people across the nation participated in the last general election at a rate rarely seen in non-presidential years, topping out at about one in three voters heading to the polls. This qualifies as a “wave” of young voters, while senior voters hit the 33% number by lunchtime on Election Day.

State agencies are launching a campaign to spotlight and support the many outdoor activities one can do in Pennsylvania. Outdoor recreation supports more than 150,000 jobs in the state, making it a very important part of our economy. Here at Triad, we have hikers, kayakers, fishers, hunters, golfers, and many of us whose definition of “outdoor activity” is drinking beer on our deck.

Traffic deaths went up again nationwide in 2021, with 27% of them attributable to driving under the influence, despite the fact that our General Assembly increases DUI fines and penalties like clockwork each session. With a million different ride-share options, and after billions of educational dollars were spent, Americans just can’t seem to kick the drink-and-drive habit. But when it comes to tough DUI penalties, Arizona remains the gold standard. With no changing of the clocks twice a year and tough DUI laws, Arizona might just be utopia. Except it is probably 135 degrees there today.

Governor Shapiro took his first spin around the block in the venerable F&M College Poll, which found him in very good stead with Pennsylvania voters. Just 13% thought he was doing a poor job, which also explained why our view of the state is also improving. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. had a bit more a of a mixed bag, suggesting that (depending on the opponent), he may have a tough race for re-election next year.

On the Triad socials this week, check out our amazing pals at the Behavioral Wellness Center at Girard, who landed in Philly Magazine as The Face of Recovery and Resilience. Way to go, BeWell peeps!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to our own Citizens Bank Park in Philly, where an impromptu hot dog eating contest in the stands turned into a full-fledged fluster of flying frankfurters.  Now THAT is how you watch a ballgame, folks! Come for the Fightin’ Phils action on the field, stay for the hot dogs to the face!

That’s what passes for news out here in central Pennsylvania (which is actually more SOUTH central), as we have once again leapt completely over spring and into the boiler room. From all your Team Triad friends, have a great weekend!