Did Jake Corman just signal a kinder, gentler #PaBudget season? | Tuesday Morning Coffee

February 26, 2019 7:07 am

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman addresses the Pennsylvania Press Club. (Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

We’ll stipulate up front that, despite the fact that we don’t agree on a whole lot, we’ve always found Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, to be one of the saner (and more affable) voices in the state Senate GOP.

Oh, he’s a conservative, no doubt. And he’s let some pretty hideous bills sponsored by his GOP colleagues come to the floor for a vote. But that said, we’ve always found him a generally reasonable guy who is decidedly far less possessed of the civet cat tendencies that tend to mark dwellers of the fever swamps of the far right.

That’s because, as Republican floor leader, it’s up to Corman to keep the trains running on time — and, when the circumstances dictate — to cut the kinds of deals that keep the wheels of government spinning.

He was, after all, one of the architects of a $2.2 billion revenue package in 2017 that actually resulted in the Senate approving a … gasp … severance tax on natural gas drillers.

While acknowledging that he and his Republican colleagues would rather be set on fire than pass a tax increase, Corman rather admirably owned up to the fact that runaway human service, pension, and corrections costs (as PennLive reported at the time) actually necessitated a tax increase.

It was that same Corman who stepped up to the microphone during Monday’s Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon to credit Gov. Tom Wolf for coming up with a no tax-hike budget plan for 2019-2020 that actually caused Sen. Scott Hutchinson to un-ironically applaud in favor of it.

During prepared remarks — and again during the Q&A — Corman stressed that it was up to the majority-Legislature and the Democratic front office to come to agreements on the stuff that they could agree on. And, to the extent that it was possible, not to sweat the stuff where it was harder to reach an accord.

“My job is to force compromises and to get stuff accomplished,” Corman said at one point.

That’s the kind of thing you’d expect a legislative leader to say — until you remember that it’s 2019, and politicians routinely say all kinds of batty and polarizing stuff with barely a backward glance.

But before you think he’s joined MoveOn or something, Corman still poured cold water on Wolf’s proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage. And he’s still no fan of legalizing recreational marijuana. On the other hand, he said he binge-watched ‘John Adams‘ during a spate of snow days earlier this month.

So that can’t be all bad, right?

Now we know that ACorman had an interest in appearing magnanimous before a paying crowd and the PCN cameras and that B: It’s far easier to make conciliatory noises in February than it is on June 30 at 11:59 p.m when everyone’s crazy-hangry and you’re scrambling madly to cobble together the votes to pass a budget.

All the same, though, between Wolf’s olive branch budget proposal and Corman’sadult-in-the-room speechifying (and yes, Bryan Cutler, you get credit too), we’re going to allow ourselves the tiniest glimmer of optimism that this budget season might actually end up being a relatively easy one.

And for those of you who think we can’t say anything nice about Republicans, that’s, like, five nice things in a row. It should more than tie you over until 2020, at least.

Our Stuff:
Winter weather swings could make potholes worse that usual, Elizabeth Hardisonreports.
A $15/hr minimum wage? Not so fast, Jake Corman saysHardison has the story.
The state Health Dept. is looking for $1.4M more to tackle PFAS contamination, Stephen Caruso reports.
It could be a while before paper mail returns to Pa. prisonsSarah Anne Hughesexplains.
Lawmakers weren’t thrilled about a Pa. State Police policy limiting cooperation with ICECaruso reports.
A former GOP congressman from PA is urging his GOP colleagues to vote againstTrump’s emergency declaration, our Washington reporter, Robin Bravender, reports.
Inspector General Bruce Beemer charges three in a food stamps fraud scheme.
Ex-U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello wants his GOP colleagues to vote in favor of this background checks bill.

On the Opinion side of the House, Planned Parenthood Pa.’s Sari Stevens lets loose on the Title X gag order. And a Dickinson College prof explains why The Green Bookhas lost none of its power and impact. 

An email trail shows how Philly city officials tried to help Amazon escape the city’s cashless store banThe Inquirer reports.
The PA Post explains how a $45,000 minimum salary for teachers would work (via PennLive).
That State Police funding plan is a ‘conversation-starter,’ the department’s top brass told lawmakers Monday (via PennLive).
Democrats in Pa. and midwestern states see danger in rebuilding the WallThe Associated Press reports (via the AP).
Pittsburgh man has been snared in the prostitution sting that resulted in charges against the owner of the New England PatriotsThe Tribune-Review reports.
BillyPenn explains why Philly is fighting a Starbucks next to city hall.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is worried about the dual news and opinion hats that the the PG’s new editorKeith Burris, will wear, The Incline reports.
The Morning Call looks at how Pa’s Congressional delegation will vote on the resolution opposing President Trump’s border emergency declaration.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day. explains why more babies are being born with syphilis.
Politico explains how Vietnam became President Trump’s ‘forever war.’
Roll Call wonders whether a U.S. Senator can break the traditional White House curse.

“The president aims to take billions of dollars from high-priority military construction projects, threatening our service members’ training, readiness, their families and their quality of life.” — U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, on why she’s opposing President Trump’s emergency declaration.

What Goes On.
Budget hearings continue in the House and Senate.
First up, the House – all meetings in Room 140, Main Capitol.
10 a.m.: Office of Administration-Office for Information Technology
1 p.m.: Dept. of Transportation
3 pm: Dept. of General Services
Now, the Senate – all meetings in Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.
10 a.m.: State-related universities
1 p.m.: Judiciary
3 p.m.: Pa. College of Technology
4 p.m.: Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Sharif Street. Admission runs from $100 to $10,000. No, seriously.

Heavy Rotation.
We pay tribute this morning to Mark Hollis, the lead singer of the English pop band, Talk Talkwho died Monday at age 64. Here’s “It’s My Life.”

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
New Jersey beat Montreal 2-1 on Monday night.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.