Five Things to Know About Gov. Wolf’s Budget Proposal

Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his annual budget address in Harrisburg earlier today, presenting a $32.3 billion spending plan that would work to close the state’s nearly $3 billion deficit largely through significant cuts to government agencies and reforms that would eliminate “corporate loopholes.”

The changes would save taxpayers more than $2 billion, according to Wolf, a first-term Democrat who is up for reelection next year. But Wolf still wants to accomplish the goals he’s long sought by funneling more money into schools and programs that fight the state’s opioid crisis.

Here are five things you should know about the governor’s budget proposal. Read more »

State Rejects Philly’s Bid to Expand Tax-Free Zones to Logan Triangle, West Philly

Development projects are planned for Logan Triangle (L) and the former University City High School (R).

Development projects are planned for Logan Triangle (L) and the former University City High School (R).

Over the summer, as the dust began to settle on another Pennsylvania budget negotiation, officials in Philadelphia’s Commerce Department realized that the state had opened the door for an expansion of Keystone Opportunity Zones, a program that’s meant to encourage investment in vacant and blighted areas by waiving certain state and local taxes. Read more »

What the Incredible Rise of the Independent Voter Means for Philly

Philadelphia Independent Voter

Voting booth photo: William Thomas Cain/iStock.

For more than half of the 20th century, the number of registered independents and third-party voters in Philadelphia didn’t change much. From the 1940s to the early 1990s, there were never fewer than about 20,000 or more than 50,000. (Stick with me through some math here — it’s important.) Things began to take a turn in 1997, though, when the amount of indies and third-partiers in the city rose to 52,600; five years later, it climbed to 70,400; five years after that, it soared to 92,600. Today, there are nearly 124,000 in Philly — that’s an eye-popping increase of more than 154 percent over the past 20 years.

During the same time period, the number of local Democrats has grown by 24 percent, and Republican registrations have shrunk by 37 percent. In fact, for the first time in modern history, independents and third-party voters are now only 1,600 people away from outnumbering Republicans in the city. That’s stunning.

The boom in independents in Philadelphia could have an impact on local, state, and even federal elections. It could threaten the few GOP-held seats in city government. It could also chip away at the power of Philly Democrats to swing statewide and presidential races. And maybe, just maybe, it could make room for Socialists, Libertarians or Working Families Party members in local elected office. Read more »

Relish Trounces Famous in Election Day Power Food Matchup

Katie McGinty poses with Mike Toub in front of Relish (left), while Rev. Jesse Jackson answers questions inside the restaurant. (Photos: HughE Dillon)

Katie McGinty poses with Mike Toub in front of Relish (left), while Rev. Jesse Jackson answers questions inside the West Oak Lane restaurant. (Photos: HughE Dillon)

Look, I know we’re all dying to see how that awful reality TV show — Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump: Election 2016 — will end tonight. History will be made, one way or another, the kind that we’ll explain in careful detail to our grandchildren one day from the comfort of our dimly lit subterranean bunkers. (Too soon?)

But I’m preoccupied today with a different Election Day showdown, one that primarily revolves around food and political gossip. That’s right, we’re talking about Famous 4th Street Deli vs. Relish. For as long as I can remember, candidates, kingmakers, campaign whisperers and reporters have delicately squeezed into Famous, at 4th and Bainbridge streets, to talk shop and eat giant corned beef sandwiches off tiny tables. Read more »

Two School Reform Commission Members Resign

School District of Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Two members of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission, the appointed body that serves in place of an elected school board, have announced that they will resign.

Marjorie Neff, a former principal at Masterman High School who was appointed to the SRC by former Mayor Michael Nutter in 2014 and made chair of the commission by Gov. Tom Wolf last year, will resign effective November 3rd. Feather Houstoun, who was appointed by former governor Tom Corbett in 2011, will serve until October 14th. Their terms were set to expire in January. A third commissioner, Sylvia Simms, has a term that expires early next year as well. Read more »

Tom Wolf’s Crash Course in State Government

Signs: Jeff Fusco; Wolf: James Robinson/PennLive.com/Associated Press.

Signs: Jeff Fusco; Wolf: James Robinson/PennLive.com/Associated Press.

In late July — on the day Donald Trump was nominated for president — Governor Tom Wolf drove from Harrisburg to a strip mall in Johnstown to talk about addiction.

Fighting addiction to prescription drugs and heroin has become one of Wolf’s signature issues, and his administration has designated 45 Centers of Excellence that will receive funding to attack the problem “holistically,” which is a word the governor uses often. In this case, it means giving help to addicts to overcome whatever is wrong with their lives, to solve the problems that led to abusing drugs in the first place. It’s a far-reaching plan. Read more »

Governor Wolf Wants to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Marijuana in Pennsylvania

tom-wolf-dnc-940x540

Governor Tom Wolf recently said he believes that possessing small amounts of marijuana should be decriminalized in Pennsylvania.

During a “Small Talk” interview with Scott LaMar on WITF, Wolf said that “too many people are going to prison because of the use of very modest amounts or carrying modest amounts of marijuana, and that is clogging up our prisons, it’s destroying families, and it’s hurting our economy.”

Read more »

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