March 24, 2023

Former President Donald Trump was not arrested in Manhattan this week, much to the chagrin of people who like to hold signs up in the air in front of the district attorney’s office. Many of them went there because Trump himself told the nation he was getting arrested Tuesday. Weird times in Gotham.

The Federal Reserve once again raised interest rates, we assume because too many people have jobs, and/or the banking system seems to have stabilized. The Fed continues to find all the economic gears that are working and throw handfuls of sand into them.

Speaking of jobs, the Pennsylvania economy has now recovered all the jobs we lost during the pandemic. After two years of record-breaking jobs reports, we are now just getting back to 2020, which speaks volumes as to how many jobs were lost as we slowed the spread. Or didn’t slow the spread.

The General Assembly dove into the annual budget hearing schedule this week, and there is already quite a bit of grumbling about Governor Shapiro’s proposed K-12 education spending. Apparently, $700 million ain’t gonna do it, according to advocates who wanted that number to be multiplied by six. You read that correctly. Quite the gap there, people.

The good news for the Commonwealth is that the year-end surplus is now tracking at about $8 billion, on top of another $5 billion in the Rainy-Day Fund. The bad news? Those two numbers combined would help us weather a recession for about 30 minutes.

The heads of the big four state-related universities also had their time in the jackpot, and before the Senate takes its turn, let’s once again clarify for the masses: university foundation dollars are by and large not available to spend on anything the universities want. These charitable, private donations often come with more strings than an orchestra.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate took some time to kick the tires on a proposed cost-of-living adjustment for retired state employees (Shameless Client Plug alert!) C’mon folks, it has been two decades since these people saw a raise. Do us a favor and try living on your 2003 salary. Get back to us after you’ve failed miserably.

DEP secretary nominee Rich Negrin got some polite applause this week, not something a DEP secretary usually gets around these parts. Negrin pledged to enact permitting reform and even turned around and shared a story about carbon capture on his social media feed. Get you a nominee who can do both!

Gun violence was the topic of the week as advocates for gun safety made their way to Harrisburg to call for an assault weapons ban, among other things. Buoyed by the House Democrats’ new majority of one, they believe this is the year for significant reform. Yes, part of the script has been flipped, but part of it stayed very much the same. See also: GOP, Senate majority.

There is a record number of women serving in the General Assembly, but still far fewer than other states and far below the average population split. This is your reminder that if women controlled the seats proportional to the overall population, they would hold THE MAJORITY of all House and Senate seats.

Once again, another study has been released about the potential of passenger rail returning to Scranton.  This time, it will be a thing by 2027. Trust us, for real this time. Or maybe stop playing with our hearts and just admit ITS NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!

The Shapiro administration is trying its dead-level best to prepare Pennsylvanians for the expiration of SNAP (food stamp) benefits by educating folks of different options available to keep people from starving. When did feeding hungry people become such a controversial thing? When the whole loaves-and-fishes thing went down, Jesus didn’t keep food away from someone because that person kinda didn’t look poor enough, or couldn’t prove to him they were dead broke. He didn’t ask to see their W-2s.

The Commonwealth Court has tossed out lawsuits arguing that counties should not have procedures in place to allow for ballot-curing. Because, to be fair, casting your ballot shouldn’t be a game of gotcha. “Nope, nope, nope! You didn’t provide the right date, you’re out! See you next year!”

State System of Higher Education schools are asking the General Assembly for a big increase in dollars to help combat the Commonwealth’s nursing shortage problem. Of all the problems with the American health care systems, this is probably the most acute one. No nurses = turn out the lights and wrap up the shop. This is also your friendly reminder that there are thousands of nurses in other countries dying to come here. Maybe we should let them? Nah, crazy idea.

Over on the Triad socials this week, our valued clients’ voices were being elevated, from the aforementioned retired state employees to our pals at the West View Water Authority!

And be sure to check out our own Roy Wells as he expounds upon the virtues of being a purpose-driven leader. Purpose-driven leaders lead purpose-driven companies, which lead to better outcomes across the board.

In our We Can’t Make This Up feature, we take you to Virginia, where two prison escapees were caught within hours of their unsanctioned departure because they were stuffing their faces with below-average pancakes at an IHOP a few miles from the prison. To sum up, these two geniuses fashioned pick axes out of toothbrushes, bored a hole in the wall, crawled out and scaled another wall just to go to IHOP? Hope you got extra bacon, guys.

That’s what passes for news around here as the rubber continues to hit the road on budget hearings, and we get ready to (thankfully) turn the page on the month of March, which this year lasted 68 days. From all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!