(*Updated to reflect the fact that passage of Gov. Tom Wolf’s infrastructure package will be pursued separately from the budget)
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
If you’d told us just a month or so back that we were going to launch a brand, spanking new publication on what’s turned out to be the busiest news day of 2019, we’d have laughed skeptically, and told you to go back to whatever bottle of Special Adult Beverage you’d been nursing.
Yet, here we find ourselves, on this, the fifth day of February 2019, with Gov Tom Wolf about to foist a brand new spending plan on a joint session of the state Legislature and President Donald Trump making a pitch for unity to a U.S. House chamber that’s about half-filled with people gunning for his job in 2020.
What, you ask yourself, could possibly go wrong?
Wolf is set to roll out a spending plan that features a proposed minimum wage hike. And he’s pursuing passage of a $4.5 billion, severance-tax funded infrastructure package.* In both instances, legislative Republicans and their allies in the business community have made it clear that they’d rather be set on fire than pass either one of them.
I’m delivering my 2019-20 #PAbudget address today. Excited to share my vision for Pennsylvania including:
?♀️ Building our workforce
? Improving schools
? Fighting the opioid crisis
? Supporting farmers and veterans
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) February 5, 2019
— Rep. Seth Grove (@RepGrove) February 1, 2019
The Capital-Star’s Sarah Anne Hughes has your essential budget-day primer to help you make sense of all the various and sundry moving parts that turns a speech’s high-flown rhetoric into an actual bill that becomes law.
Here’s the rest of our stuff today:
Staff Reporter Stephen Caruso makes his debut with an interview with new House State Government Committee Chairman Garth Everett, who’s out to prove that he’s not your father’s Daryl Metcalfe. Staff Reporter Elizabeth Hardison brings you up to date on what’s next on the gun-control front. And this columnist you may have heard of sits down for a chat with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
Meanwhile, Trump is again expected to make a pitch for his border wall to a Democratic majority in the House that’s already said ‘No, gracias’ to it. Thus the capacity for gridlock both here in Harrisburg and on Capitol Hill seems bottomless.
We’ll have all the reax from Capitol Hill in the wake of Trump’s speech to the nation a bit later on tonight. And, if you’re really lucky, a running tally of the number of times that Nancy Pelosi rolls her eyes at something Trump says.
With that in mind, let’s get rolling, shall we?
On our commentary pages, you’ll find a host of op-Eds from the advocacy community, each of them running down their respective shopping lists for the budget season to come.
Capital-Star Opinion contributor Sean P. Quinlan gets up close and personal on his prescription for common sense gun-control.
Capital-Star Opinion contributor Anwar Curtis, of Harrisburg, reminds Capitol-dwellers that, even though they think they might live on an island, there’s a whole Capital City out there looking to them for leadership.
Rick Bloomingdale of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO weighs in on what Harrisburg needs to do for Pennsylvania’s working families.
Karen Baker of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape has her prescription for how policymakers can best assist survivors of sexual assault.
The Environmental Defense Fund says Gov. Tom Wolf can’t pass up this chance to make fighting climate change a key part of his second-term legacy.
If you thought Gene Barr of the Pennsylvania Chamber had suddenly embraced Wolf’s proposed severance tax, you have another thing coming.
Susan Spicka of Education Voters of Pa. has her say on public education funding.
And Jack Carroll, the head of drug and alcohol programs for Cumberland County, says local solutions are the best way to fight the opioid epidemic.
And even more news:
Embattled state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, steps down from his perch as the ranking Democrat of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Elizabeth Hardison attended the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus’ Black History Month celebration.
For embattled union boss Johnny Doc, union generosity began at home, The Inquirerreports.
Pa. State Police now face limits on reporting undocumented immigrants to ICE, The Inquirer also reports.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto isn’t afraid of firing back at his critics on gun-control,The Post-Gazette reports.
A Pittsburgh cop injured in the Tree of Life shootings will be in the crowd at the #SOTU tonight, The Tribune-Review reports.
A free voter education class will explain Philly politics to you, BillyPenn reports.
The Incline explains ‘The Pittsburgher’s Creed.’ Yes, that’s a thing.
A Lehigh Valley man has been charged in the death of his mother in Lower Saucon Township, The Morning Call reports.
New Jersey makes its $15/hr. minimum wage official, WHYY-FM reports.
The AP has five things to watch for in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget speech today (via WITF-FM).
State Rep. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, is the new head of the House Republican Campaign Committee, PoliticsPA reports.
In the American west, battles over logging and money are delaying wildfire prevention work, Stateline.org reports.
Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day.
Even some skeptics are starting to wonder if President Trump doesn’t deserve a smidge of foreign policy credit, Politico reports.
The White House’s call for unity during the #SOTU is probably going to fall flat, Roll Call reports.
What Goes On.
As you might expect from Budget Day, the proverbial dance card is full.
Budget Secretary Jen Swails gets things rolling with the traditional 9:30 a.m. background-only briefing in the Media Center. Wolf gives his speech at around 11 a.m. And then it’s the usual free-for-all of press availabilities by the respective caucus leaders on the Second Floor Porch outside the LG’s office.
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. John Sabatina
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Vince Hughes
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Larry Farnese
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Mike Sturla
5:30 p.m.: Reception for the Senate Republican Campaign Committee
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a truly ridiculous $21,500 today.
Here’s one from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. From last year, it’s “If Love is the Law.”
Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
The Flyers topped Vancouver 2-1 on Monday night, logging their eighth straight win.
And now you’re up to date