June 21, 2024

The legislature took a week off in order to observe Juneteenth this week, something that a mere 10 years ago would have been unthinkable. We may not yet be the prefect union, but we do take steps in that direction every now and again.

Meanwhile, we are just a week away from the first presidential debate, and both sides are caterwauling and complaining about edited videos and “deep fakes.” Yup, only five months left of this nonsense.

A new poll is showing former President Trump with a 2-point lead in Pennsylvania. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, meanwhile, enjoys a 7-point cushion over his challenger Dave McCormick, continuing the trend of incumbent Democrats out-performing the top of the ticket by a big margin. As one national pundit put it, the Democrats may not have a favorability problem, but instead a Biden problem.

RFK Jr. this week filed the necessary signatures to be placed on the fall ballot, and we suspect that perennial candidate Jill Stein will be along any minute now to do the same. Add in Cornell West and, WOO DOGGIES, do we have ourselves a presidential stew that nobody wants or would ever order from a menu.

Pennsylvania school students will observe a moment of silence on 9/11 next year, thanks to a new law that Gov. Josh Shapiro signed this week. Up next, maybe we can mandate a few hundred moments each year dedicated to educating children as to how the hell 9/11 happened in the first place. They could call it “American history” or some such thing.

Next week, dear friends, will be all about that state budget, and not at all about that bass. A top GOP senator this week shed some optimistic light on the whole process, but cautioned that the negotiations may need a “kick in the pants.” Maybe we should put Big Dom from the Philadelphia Eagles’ staff in the room and see what happens.

One issue that will not make it onto the final buffet is legalized weed, although there was movement on that front this week as a bipartisan pair of western Pennsylvania lawmakers joined together to draft a bill. The wheels of the legislature have ground exceedingly slowly on this issue, to the point where Pennsylvania might soon be the only state on the eastern seaboard where pot is illegal. Free the Weedies, people.

What will be in the final budget, you ask? Well, a few things are safe bets right off the bat. One, there may finally be some funding to help eliminate the backlog of services for adults with intellectual disabilities after years of neglect. This one is an even-money favorite on the Triad Betting Line.

And will the legislature finally come to an agreement on the taxation and regulation of skill games?  Well, those odds got a boost this week when the PA Supreme Court announced it will entertain a case that could decide the status of those machines without the general assembly acting at all.  There was panic at the disco when that announcement was made. Still, we say 6-1 it makes the final table.

Shapiro’s 10-year plan for jump-starting economic development will also be in the mix, but what it might look like is anyone’s guess. Direct money for PA Sites? Yeah, we have that at about 7-5 odds.  Changes to Net Operating Loss caps? A solid 3-1 bet on the morning line. Will a bipartisan mix of tax credits designed to spur job growth be on the list? That one sits at 2-1, although the mix is still to be determined. More on that one later!

A bill is advancing in the state House that would prohibit wastewater from drilling operations from being spread on roadways. This of course begs the question: why in the hell is this practice a thing in the first place?

Speaking of water, the state’s highest court is weighing whether the benefits of municipal water privatization are worth the downside. This one is gonna have a lot of eyes on it, folks. Water, the access to it and the price of it will probably be the reason for the next World War.

A bill to reform squatter’s rights also advanced this week, which is probably a good thing because some random dude squatting in a house is no doubt gonna get the business one of these days.  Indigenous Americans swiftly weighed in on the proposal saying, “You are gonna ban what now?”

Kudos to Philly Mayor Cherelle Parker for putting her first city budget to bed without so much as a whimper. The tidy little spending plan clocked in at more than $6 billion. They get so big so fast. 

Governor Shapiro waded squarely into the Israeli/Palestine college campus protest kerfuffle by throwing his weight behind a bill that would penalize colleges for Israeli divestiture. As one would expect, the online discourse around this decision ranged from insane to downright Crazytown Bananapants.

The Pittsburgh Pirates fired an unexpected shot across the Wawa bow as they announced a partnership with Sheetz, whose corporate logo will now adorn the Buccos uniforms. The junior senator from Pennsylvania was behind this, we have no doubt.

Over on the Triad socials, remember earlier in this memo where we mentioned tax credits? We give a big shout out to Rep. Justin Fleming for support of a particularly important mixed-use tax credit that we may or may not know a little bit about!

Also on the socials, check out the next installment of state budget throwback photos. Last week we had short-sleeves-clad Roy Wells, and this week, we feature Mike Manzo, who apparently helped to negotiate state budgets when he was 15 years old.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to Beijing, where a self-described military buff picked up four used books for a dollar at a recycling center, only to discover they were filled with Chinese military secrets. The man immediately alerted the authorities, but holy crap, we don’t even wanna KNOW what happened to the dude who lost them in the first place.

That’s what passes for news around here as we await the final act of budget season 2024-2025. We would tell you that we will be back next week, but we can’t say for certain since our building has begun to melt into the sidewalk. From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!