Congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden have reached what we political wonks call a “topline agreement” on a $3.5 trillion budget plan. Topline agreements can best be described as “we will get to the details later; here is the price tag.” That loud thud you just heard was a group of deficit hawks collectively passing the hell out on the Senate floor.
The new, expanded child care tax credit is starting to arrive in people’s bank accounts this week. For a taste of where we are in politics, the president described it as the greatest, single anti-child-poverty measure in U.S. history, while a guest on Fox News last night called it welfare for babies. There appears to be a rather large gulf between those two points of view.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the microphone and blasted folks who are politicizing the COVID-19 vaccine, calling their rhetoric “frankly moronic.” Looks like ol’ Mitch has had enough, people, and he doesn’t much care who knows it.
If you think there isn’t much going on with your state government simply because it is July, THINK AGAIN, SUNSHINE! There were three very important stories that unfolded this week while you were down the shore playing mini golf with your kiddos. First, a select task force is about to unveil recommendations for how to generate billions of dollars for the state’s infrastructure needs. At the top of list is repealing the gas tax and replacing it with a tax on miles driven. This formally kicks off what will be a searingly difficult debate in the halls of government.
Also this week, Gov. Tom Wolf’s key environmental proposal was given approval by a government panel that partially paves the way for the state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. A final panel will take a look under the hood on Sept. 1, but it remains unlikely that RGGI will be derailed. This fact is not sitting well with some folks in the energy sector (see: coal and natural gas power plants) and the folks who work there (see: some building trades). There is much more to come on this unfolding drama.
And finally, the State System of Higher Education board voted unanimously to consolidate six of its schools into two, leaving 10 total. Despite very public howls of disapproval from some lawmakers, faculty and students, this thing seemed to be wired tighter than a Stradivarius. That was a lot of smoke for an 18-0 vote.
One Pennsylvania lawmaker’s attempt to forensically audit the 2020 election results hit some rocky pavement, as two of his three chosen participating counties decided to not participate. Commissioners in Tioga and York counites are out, leaving only Philadelphia County, which has yet to respond. We will let you go ahead and guess what Philly’s response is gonna be.
Speaking of voting and Philadelphia, President Biden came to the city this week to speechify a bit on voting rights. As Biden speeches go, it was rather… um… animated.
Governor Wolf marked the 15th anniversary of the last time Pennsylvania raised its minimum wage with yet another call to do it again. Yes, we recall the day the last one happened, as a certain Triad Senior VP was the House Democrats’ chief of staff when it landed on the governor’s desk. Editor’s note: he is now old and has more than a bit of gray hair in his summer goatee.
Governor Wolf is now down to his last 18 months in office and is making it clear that he wants education funding to be his legacy as governor. Specifically, he wants the state’s fair funding formula fully enacted and says we have more than enough loot to make it happen. The General Assembly’s Republicans, who are still firmly in control, will have a thing or two to say on that point. After all, they have been on the business end of all 51 of Governor Wolf’s vetoes.
Lost in all the post-COVID return-to-school chatter is the central question of who in the hell is gonna get your kids back there in the first place. There is a serious school bus driver shortage in this Commonwealth, people. Pay attention.
The Farm Show Complex will be open for business this fall, as all the state’s stockpile of PPE is being moved to a new facility. This announcement was the top news for every central PA media outlet, showing all you non-mid-state folks that we take our Farm Show pretty damned seriously around here!
Poison Hemlock is spreading like wildfire throughout Pennsylvania, and our friends at Lancaster Online have a piece detailing why it sucks and why you should kill it, before it snuffs all of us like it did Romeo and Juliet.
There is also a new, mysterious disease killing birds all over Pennsylvania. Thankfully, our good friends at the University of Pennsylvania vet school are on the case, because due to recent events, we hear “mysterious bird disease” and immediately think “worldwide pandemic.” Not that we are hypochondriacs or anything.
Lawmakers are once again targeting those who insist on using their cell phones while they drive, which we all know is weapons-grade stupid. The new plan will allow State Police to confiscate the phone, taser it and run over it with a patrol car. Seriously people, what do we have to do to get you to just DRIVE??
As we come to the end of our rainbow today, we draw your attention to the fact that the Naval Special Warfare training school has graduated its very first woman. The Navy did not release her name, but pray you never get on her bad side.
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we give you the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an organization that we have all come to know oh so well. For some UNGODLY REASON, the CDC communications team decided to hop on Twitter and remind us all that it is a bad idea to poo in a swimming pool, complete with perhaps the grossest cartoon GIF this side of South Park. Nice work, CDC. Can’t unsee that one.
That’s what passes for news around here as the dog days settle in, which means extreme heat followed up each day with destructive storms. That’s why we love Pennsylvania! Until next time, from all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!