February 9, 2024
President Biden had been on quite the roll recently, with rising polling numbers and a strong economy to run on. And then along came a special counsel report on how he mishandled classified documents and WHAM! One day you are riding high, the next you are a “well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.” Our guess is he would have rather been indicted than see that written in the report.
In a year when the U.S. House has been quite the dysfunctional operation, this week may have topped it all. First, the House GOP tanked a border bill that their GOP senate colleagues drafted, then their effort to impeach the Homeland Security secretary failed when they forgot to count the votes. Stupid math. You typically have to tune in to Monday Night Raw on the USA Network to see this kind of chaos up close. At this rate, C-SPAN is going to have to warn its viewers before showing House proceedings.
And if you were planning on heading over to the Farm Show for the Great Outdoors shindig today, you may wanna reassess that plan. Former President Trump will be in attendance today, heading up an NRA panel. That means security will be tighter than two coats of paint. Maybe wait until Saturday to check out that new fly rod you’ve had your peeps on.
All eyes were on Gov. Josh Shapiro as he delivered his second budget address. If budget addresses are menus of priorities, consider this one an Applebee’s menu. Sixteen appetizers, 30 entrees and, of course, the milkshake with whipped cream. First up in his $48 billion plan was a cool billion plus for education, making good on his pledge to close the gap between the haves and have-nots.
Second was a $500 million commitment to economic development efforts, while resuscitating the old Whole Home Repairs program at $50 million.
One of the more interesting pieces of his plan was a $4 million line to eliminate medical debt for the poorest resident. The neat thing about that is apparently a $4 million payment can wipe out almost $400 million of debt. How cool would it be if your credit card worked that way? “You owe us a thousand bucks this month, but just send in a 10-spot and we will call it even.”
Outside of the 7% increase in spending, Shapiro also knocked the dust off of his call for the state to increase the minimum wage. Between Shapiro and his predecessor, we count nine straight budget addresses calling for an increase. Pretty impressive streak, unless you happen to be one of those souls making $7.15/hour.
And Shapiro also called upon the General Assembly to legalize marijuana, which would make the state the 25th to do so. The early Vegas line says that at least five more states will clock in ahead of us before this baby is done.
Overall, the reaction from the GOP was not quite as warm and fuzzy as it was after Shapiro’s first address. In fact, it was downright chilly up in there. Fiscal conservatives, you understand, rarely wake up each day and ask themselves the best way to spend $3 billion. Our guess is that when the final bell rings, they may have ordered a handful of appetizers and maybe two or three of those Applebee’s entrees, and definitely skipped the milkshake.
Team Triad will be analyzing the spending plan in excruciating details in the days and weeks ahead, but in the meantime, check out our budget preview, where our own Mike Manzo was about 79% correct in his predictions, which means he can keep his job for another year.
Voters in Bucks County will amble to the polls next Tuesday with the daunting responsibility of deciding which party controls the PA House for the next year, or at least until the next House member takes an early shower. This will be the fourth time the House Democrats have had to defend their one-vote majority and will definitely turn out to be the most challenging one yet. So do your thing, Bucks! Give us a result that national pundits will breathlessly point to as an “early sign of trouble” for either Biden or Trump.
After that special election, the House will be back to full complement and can… wait, hold on. We are being told a House GOP member just announced his resignation, effective immediately. We send all our best to our old friend Rep. Joe Adams, who we first met lo those many years ago in his capacity as business manager of the Wallenpaupack School District. Much love and best of luck, Joe, as you return home to take care of your most important asset; your family. Special election number five, coming right up!
Philly D.A. Larry Krasner is launching a new Retail Theft Task Force in the wake of an alarming number of recent violent smash-and-grab operations in center city. In Philly, as it is in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, if there is a problem, the swiftest way to get something done is to have a task force study it for a year.
On the Triad Socials this week, we grab the cake and candles (and bourbon) for Todd Brysiak as he marks another year on the planet today.
We also celebrated our own Megan Dapp’s five-year Triadiversary! Give it up for The Performer, cats and kittens!
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we ran across this little gem while searching for Valentine’s Day gifts. Apparently, the Huffington Post thinks the perfect gift for your love is the Tick Mitt, a glove that helps you remove ticks, thereby preventing your significant other from contracting Lyme disease. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you “the most Pennsylvania gift ever!” Thank us later!
That’s what passes for news around here as budget hearings start next week, and as usual, we will be tracking all of it and curating it with love, just for you! From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!