Could Dems Take Back the Pa. Senate?

Even though Gov. Tom Corbett faces a steep climb to re-election — Tom Wolf has all but been coronated in some quarters — the assumption in most quarters has been that the Legislature will remain safely in GOP hands.

No so fast.

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Attacks Heating Up in Race for Pennsylvania Governor

This is the new ad from Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, bashing challenger Tom Wolf over how his company moved to Delaware. Problem is the Wolf Company says it pays its corporate taxes in Pennsylvania and that it does not take advantage of the “Delaware loophole” that lets companies avoid it. About 70 percent of Pennsylvania companies take advantage of this loophole.

The other part of Corbett’s ad is kind of weird, too. Part of it’s fine: Tom Wolf was Secretary of Revenue under Ed Rendell and testified on behalf of the proposed tax increases (but they failed). But he didn’t make tax policy as revenue secretary. It’s kind of like blaming the head of the IRS for high federal taxes.

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Budget Omnibus: Pa. House Passes Cigarette Tax

Lots of moving parts to the state’s budget situation these days, so let’s try to take them in some semblance of order.

• First: The Pennsylvania House on Wednesday night authorized Philly’s cigarette tax, a measure designed to help fund city schools at something like full strength.  “The state House of Representatives voted 119-80 on Wednesday night to send the bill back to the Senate, which approved a similar version earlier this week,” AP reports. “Philadelphia officials say that imposing a $2 per-pack city tax on cigarette sales will help fill a crippling schools budget deficit. Without the money, they say schools won’t be fit to open in the fall.”

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As Pa. Budget Turns: Where’s Tom Wolf?

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So where is Tom Wolf, anyway?

The Democratic nominee for governor has been pretty quiet in recent days as Gov. Tom Corbett and the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature tried to wrestle the state budget into submission through a mix of bad priorities and morally dubious tactics.

Wolf — probably wisely — has stayed on the sidelines: His campaign’s last press release was June 19; its last blog post on June 27. When your already mortally wounded opponent insists on shooting himself in the foot publicly (does anybody think Corbett comes out of this process looking good?) it’s wise to shut up and let him reload.

Politically, at least, it’s wise. But Pennsylvanians shouldn’t let him get away with it. They should be demanding Wolf offer his ideas about how to put this year’s state budget together in the face of a $1.5 billion deficit.

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