Wolf Goes to Battle With GOP

Tom Wolf

That didn’t take long. On only his second day in office, Gov. Tom Wolf started throwing down with Republicans — voiding some last-second picks for appointed offices that his predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, made before leaving office this week.

“Included among the two dozen “pending executive nominations” that were recalled by Mr. Wolf on Thursday were judicial nominations, the nomination of former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley to Temple University’s board of trustees and the appointment of William Lieberman to the state Turnpike Commission,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

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Three Predictions for Tom Wolf’s First Year

Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf takes office as governor of Pennsylvania today, and here’s the worry: That today — with the swearing-in, the pomp, the circumstance, and the Yuengling-free celebrations — might be the last good day of his term.

That’s probably an overwrought concern, but not by much. We’ve already discussed the reasons our new governor isn’t going to get much of a honeymoon — he’s staring down a gigantic deficit, and to fix it he needs the help of an ever-more-conservative Pennsylvania Legislature that might not be all that inclined to help him get anything done. It’s like trying to patch your ship in shark-infested waters, with the assistance of the sharks.

So how’s it all going to shake out? Three predictions for Tom Wolf’s first year in office:

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Former Philly Educator Named Wolf’s Secretary of Education

Pedro Rivera, a one-time Philadelphia educator who moved on to superintendent of the Lancaster school district, has been named the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education by Governor-elect Tom Wolf.

“Pennsylvania schools are struggling. My top priority is making sure our schools have the resources to teach our children the skills they need to succeed,” said Wolf said in a statement. “Pedro Rivera is nationally recognized for his efforts to improve urban education, and he will work with me to build a strong public education system and get Pennsylvania back on track.”
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Tom Wolf Names Transgender Woman Physician General

Image courtesy of Penn State

Image courtesy of Penn State

On Saturday, Governor-Elect Tom Wolf released the names of four more members of his cabinet, one of which is a transgender woman, Dr. Rachel Levine, who will serve as his physician general.

Dr. Levine, a resident of Middletown, Pennsylvania, is currently a professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where she also serves as chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, a program she created on her own. She has also worked actively with the school’s Office of Diversity, mentoring LGBT students, faculty and staff, and she sits on the board of Equality PA.

In her role as physician general, Levine will advise the governor and secretary of the Department of Health on medical and public health-related issues. In a press release sent out this weekend, Wolf explains why he chose her for this position:

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Is Yuengling Banned From Wolf’s Inauguration?

Tom Wolf

He hasn’t been inaugurated yet, but incoming Gov. Tom Wolf already has a scandal on his hands.

State Rep. Mike Vereb on Thursday appeared on Dom Giordano’s radio show and said that Yuengling beer is not being served at Wolf’s inaugurral events this weekend — probably as political payback for the company’s support for “right-to-work” laws opposed by labor unions.

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Wednesday’s City Reads

Albuquerque | Shutterstock

Albuquerque | Shutterstock

National Reads: “In Albuquerque, protests against police shootings and charges against officers”

The national debate around police-involved shootings has largely centered on two places: Ferguson, Mo. and New York. But cities and towns across the country, including Philadelphia, are grappling with the issue.

The Washington Post takes a look one such place: Albuquerque, where “police shot and killed 27 people between 2010 and 2014.”

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Florida Governor Coming to Philly to Poach Jobs

Florida Gov. Rick Scott waves after the swearing in for his second term as governor of Florida at the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. The inauguration took place in front of the Old Capitol. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott waves after the swearing in for his second term as governor of Florida at the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. The inauguration took place in front of the Old Capitol. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he’s coming to Philadelphia next month to try to lure businesses and jobs here back to his state — making a rhetorical assault on Governor-elect Tom Wolf before Wolf even takes office.

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Natural Gas Price Plummets, But Fracking Tax Still a Wolf Priority

Fracking-2-JEFF-FUSCO-940X540

States that depend on energy resources to power their economies and budgets are tightening their belts as the prices of oil and natural gas fall, but that won’t — and maybe shouldn’t — stand in the way of a new fracking tax in Pennsylvania, officials say.

Governor-elect Tom Wolf, who takes office in two weeks, won election in part on a promise to impose a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas production in Pennsylvania and use the revenues — he estimated as much as $1 billion — to restore funding to the state’s K-12 public schools. But a “glut” of natural gas production is driving prices lower, and Wall Street is casting a dubious eye on companies making big drilling investments in the Marcellus Shale.

Which raises the question: Did Pennsylvania — the only gas-producing state without an extraction tax — miss its moment to tax the fracking industry for the best benefit of its citizens?

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Pennsylvania Sued Over Health Care Changes

Earlier this week, Community Legal Services filed suit against the state of Pennsylvania over changes to health care beginning next year.

Under the changes coming next year, Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program is being renamed from HealthChoices to Healthy Pennsylvania. Instead of expanding traditional Medicaid coverage as recommended in Obama’s health care law, Pennsylvania instead decided to expand on its own — accepting only some money from Medicaid.

All Pennsylvanians in Healthy PA are being moved into three tiers of coverage. In the suit — Mendez v. Mackereth — against the state’s Department of Public Welfare, CLS argues two of the three new health care options under Healthy PA “contain very significant, potentially health-altering cuts.”

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