March 8, 2024

President Joe Biden gave his State of the Union address to the nation last night, and either he hit the caffeine before he took the stage, or we accidentally watched it at one-and-a-half times speed. Biden obviously benefitted from his opponents telling the nation that he was functionally dead for the past six months. Low bar? Cleared.

Going into the speech, six in ten Americans were unsure whether he had the cognitive ability or memory for the job, but his memory was good enough to remember who “Bobby Casey” is! From one Scranton kid to another.

This month’s version of “more jobs were created than the experts predicted” happened today, with February’s numbers coming in at 275,000 new jobs. The fact that economic experts have consistently missed the mark every single month for the past three years is comical enough for its own SNL skit.

But as we have been seeing in poll numbers, despite low unemployment, falling inflation, rising consumer confidence and a hot stock market, some Americans don’t FEEL like things are moving in the right direction. This new Brookings report about the uneven growth we are seeing might help explain that. Or, maybe we as a nation are just getting awfully whiny and our feels are out of whack.

Nikki Haley made it official this week, dropping out of the presidential race. She did, however, raise eyebrows (and a certain candidate’s blood pressure) when she refused to endorse Donald Trump. Now, there is still plenty of time for her to do so, but if we are not mistaken, we think we heard Taylor Swift in the background singing, “we… are never, ever, ever… getting back together.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro is proposing a $10 million agricultural innovation grant program, and as you might guess, this is big news in the ag community. Each year, the ag folks sit around during budget hearings and hear other agencies talk about how they are gonna spend their billions of dollars, while they are asked to be content with 50 bucks and a bag of seed. Kudos to the governor on this one.

Shapiro’s education team answered questions on how they planned to spend the proposed $1.1 BILLION in new education funding. Meanwhile… ag… bag of seed. You see what we are saying now?

And speaking of farmers, they are demanding the state reimburse them a whole helluva lot more when they get their land snatched away via eminent domain for things like highway projects. And have you seen PennDOT’s plan for the I-83 Capital Beltway expansion? It will presumably require more land-snatching than Congressman Bud Shuster did in his heyday. If you know, you know.

Several years ago, a freshman state senator in the minority party was somehow able to convince his colleagues to create, and fund, the Whole Home Repairs program. If you do not comprehend exactly what a feat that was, you are new here. Anyhow, this week his state plan went national, as U.S. Sen. John Fetterman introduced a national model of the plan. Again, there should be a Netflix docuseries on exactly how he was able to pull this off.

Shapiro is also touting his proposed $283 million in new loot for mass transit. Because if you don’t invest in transit, you end up with a land-snatching, 10-lane mega highway right through central PA.

The battle over the funding and expansion of cyber charter schools in PA is heating up, with cybers touting the benefits of their product, while lawmakers are asking why in the hell it is so expensive to build and maintain a virtual school in the cloud. With Republicans and Democrats far apart on basic education funding levels, cyber charter funding may inadvertently get caught up in that kerfuffle.

The state is out with a new, handy-dandy guide to electronic poll books ahead of the 2024 elections. Yes, just in time for all conspiracy theorists to come out of their caves and start asking questions. What are poll books? Why electronic? Who can see them? Can they be hacked? Why is the government tracking my F-150 and putting 5G chips in my oatmeal? These folks won’t be happy until we go back to voting with number two pencils and paper. VOTER FRAUD! IT’S EVERYWHERE!

A powerful state House panel is kicking the tires on the concept of digital driver’s licenses that will be valid for some limited set of uses. Considering we have everything from our credit cards to our car insurance cards to our prescriptions to our Kenny Chesney tickets on our phones already, what’s the harm? Eventually, everything will be on our phones, making us all obsolete as our iPhones and Androids become sentient and kill us all.

We send our deepest condolences this week to the family of Jim Roddy, who passed away today at the age of 91. Roddy was the first elected Allegheny County executive and a trailblazing yinzer if there ever was one. Rest in peace, Jim.

Over on the Triad socials, it is International Women’s Day, so say hello to Brandi, Jan, Megan, Yvonne, Cheryl, Olivia, Savannah, Sakura, Jennifer and Andrea! They are the BEST of Team Triad! 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, there was a story we saw about an employee tasing his boss, but Roy Wells didn’t think it was funny, and we bagged it. Instead, we take you to Arlington, Texas, where a herd of goats got loose and ran wild all over town. The goats were brought in to clear underbrush and weeds (which, by the way, is what Pocono Raceway does, too), and the goats quickly decided they did not like the working conditions and bolted. Arlington called in a goat wrangler, because this is Texas, and goat wrangler is an actual job there.

That’s what passes for news around here as budget hearings hit the seventh inning stretch and we gear up for some fancy legislating! From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!