Wolf: ‘We’re all trying to figure out what are the things that ought to be done’ for the #PaBudget | Thursday Morning Coffee

June 6, 2019 7:06 am

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at rally for his Restore PA infrastructure plan Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
We spent a goodly portion of Gov. Tom Wolf’s first term trying to get his staff to confess what Pennsylvania’s thoughtful, contemplative, and Dartmouth– and MIT-educated chief executive is like, well, when he just wigs out.

We wanted to know: Does he drop the scholarly mien and just go full-WWE? Are there thrown chairs and broken crockery?

No such luck.

When Gov. Tom Wolf gets upset, we were finally able to learn, he does so in the Wolfiest of all possible ways: He’s Ward Cleaver, somberly shaking his head, perhaps even rubbing his temples, and saying, “Your mother and I are very disappointed in you, Theodore.

So it was Wednesday when we caught up with Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor during a brief media scrum in the Capitol rotunda, where he was buffeted with all manner of questions about the looming debate over the state budget, and the constellation of variables that might lead to a final deal.

In short, Wolf was thoughtful. He was contemplative. He answered just about every question that was thrown at him. And all we could think was, that even if budget negotiations were going to heck in a handbasket, “Your mother and I are very disappointed in you, Theodore.”

On the current state of play:
“I think we’re all trying to figure out what are the things that ought to be done. I mean, the … [Pa. Farm] bill came out of committee. The [PA Gil Bill] came out of committee [and was recently approved by the Senate] ,” he said. “They …  both [House Minority Leader Frank Dermody] and the Majority Leader [Bryan Cutler] just published an op-Ed, talking about [the state taking over the [Obamacare] exchanges. So there are a lot of things that I think all of us are trying to do that, again, are going to make things a lot better for people in Pennsylvania.”

On the minimum wage debate:
“We continue to talk about that. I mean, I’ve been the constant. I came out in February with my proposal and and I think the Majority Leader in the Senate came out fairly quickly and said, ‘I’m not sure I can get to that.’

“But we need to talk about it. So I don’t know where we’ll end up. But I think there’s a universal belief that we’ve got to move well beyond $7.25 cents an hour … I don’t know where it will land. But I think what I believe is that there is broad agreement that we can’t stick around $7.25 any longer. We’ve got to move.”

Don’t go spending it all in one place:
 remained fairly adamant about socking away as much money as possible at year’s end into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. He couldn’t say how much the state might have on-hand as of June 30, but “I track the revenues every day. I know how that’s coming in. But I don’t know what the expenditures are going to be in terms of what we anticipated either.”

Asked whether he might be willing to dip into surplus to pay for a proposal by Senate Democrats to fund $10 million in grants to shore up safety at houses of worship (kind of like the $70 million school safety grant program), Wolf said he’s all for safety, but he’s also interested in saving money.

“And I think that’ll be part of the budget conversations as to whether that’s something that comes out of the new revenues, or we move things around in the existing budget,” he said.

Our Stuff:
Gov. Tom Wolf
 finally rolled out the fine print of his much-ballyhooed Restore PA infrastructure plan. And it has near-majority support, Stephen Carusoreports.

The state Supreme Court says that multiple political parties can’t nominate the same candidate for the same office. Sarah Anne Hughes explains what that means — big picture-wise.

Gun-control advocates rallied in the Capitol rotunda on Wednesday. And a central Pennsylvania woman’s heart-breaking tale drives home the high stakes of the debate.

Seventy-five years ago today, Allied forces stormed the beaches at Normandy, beginning the D-Day invasion. In the final day of our Ernie Pyle series, the famed war correspondent vividly depicts the human cost of the offensive.

Ignoring the city’s cashless ban, there are some government offices in Philly that still won’t take cashThe Inquirer reports.
The state House has passed a bill making it illegal to marry before your 18th birthday – you’da thunk that was illegal already. PennLive has the story.
Lt. Gov John Fetterman talks to the Post-Gazette about his statewide marijuana listening tour.
Officials in Bethlehem nabbed far less in taxes from the sale of the Sands Bethlehem casino than expectedThe Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

Philly City Council is getting ready to ban bay windows and balconies in two neighborhoods, WHYY-FM reports.
The PA Post’s Tim Lambert explains how a Pennsylvania man was featuredin an historic D-Day photo.
The Lancaster County DA’s office is hoping a $300K grant will help them crack cold cases, LancasterOnline reports.
BillyPenn has your Philly Pride shopping guide for this Pride Month.
The Incline profiles the 19 education up-and-comers in Pittsburgh. looks at what states mean when they talk about a ‘public option’ for healthcare.
State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, has a primary challenger, PoliticsPA reports.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to see President Donald Trump imprisoned, Politico reports.
U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal, D-Conn., is back on his one-man crusade against sports blackouts, Roll Call reports. We can totally get behind that.

What Goes On.
10 a.m., Main Rotunda: A Child Welfare Providers Appreciation Week event.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
takes his Restore PA tour back out on the road for a pair of stops. At 10 a.m., he’s in Mercer County for a walking tour of lovely downtown Sharon, Pa. And at 1:30 p.m., you’ll find him doing the same in scenic Greensburg, Westmoreland County.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
5:30 pm.: 
Reception for Rep. Tim O’Neal
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence
6 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Marcy Toepel
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out an eye-watering $11K for just three events.

Heavy Rotation.
In honor of a Facebook exchange we were having Wednesday, here’s a classic from the great INXS. It’s a late period tune: “Baby Don’t Cry.”

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
With Game 5 looming tonight, here’s a look at what St. Louis’ defense is doing right against Boston (via

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

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