Tom Wolf’s Honeymoon is Over

Tom Wolf

Photo | Jeff Fusco

We’re barely a week past the election, and already it looks — sorry to say — like the honeymoon is over for Governor-elect Tom Wolf.

The first clue, assuming you want to skip past the fact that he was already going to be dealing with a Republican-controlled legislature, was when the Pennsylvania Senate Republicans dumped good ol’ Dom Pileggi as their leader this week and replaced him with the fierier, more conservative Jake Corman.

That would be enough, on its own, to make the state’s Democrats a little sick to their stomachs — worse yet is that Comran probably owes his ascendancy, in part, to Wolf’s election. “We don’t want a moderate majority leader who’s going to allow Wolf to get things done that are contrary to the overwhelming majority of our caucus,” an unnamed caucus member told The Patriot News.

So: Goodbye to any easy solutions on the Philly education front. Goodbye, most likely, to a bipartisan fracking tax. And goodbye, really, to any era of good feelings that might get the Wolf Administration off to an auspicious beginning.

That was just the start.

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Tom Wolf’s Ethics Code Is a Good Start

Tom Wolf

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Governor-elect Tom Wolf’s transition team unveiled a “code of ethical conduct” for team members on Tuesday, and for the life of me, I couldn’t initially figure out what the big deal was. After all, the the requirements outlined in the code seemed pretty basic for anybody legitimately seeking to enter public service.

I will not use my position with the Governor-Elect’s Transition Team for personal gain or take any substantial action affecting any matter, for personal gain or that of my immediate family or organization with which I have a substantial financial interest.

We’re not getting rich off of government service? Big surprise.

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Lawsuit: School Funding in Pennsylvania is Unconstitutional

shutterstock_175830524-money-scales-of-justice

Seventeen years ago, the city and School District of Philadelphia filed suit against Pennsylvania, accusing it of failing to provide sufficient education funding in violation of the state Constitution, which obligates the state legislature to “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education.”

It didn’t work. Commonwealth Court rejected the suit, and the state Supreme Court in 1999 refused to hear an appeal.

Now school funding advocates are looking for a rematch. A potentially momentous lawsuit was filed in Commonwealth Court this morning, claiming that the state has “adopted an irrational and inequitable school financing arrangement that drastically underfunds school districts across the Commonwealth and discriminates against children on the basis of the taxable property and household incomes in their districts.”

One of many striking elements of this suit is that the School District of Philadelphia — which would be among the greatest beneficiaries of a successful lawsuit — is not among the plaintiffs.

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What Governor Tom Wolf Means for Philadelphia

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Four years of Tom Corbett have, to put it mildly, been rough on Philadelphia. Chaos in the state-managed and largely state-funded school district. Cuts to social services that Philly’s high-poverty population rely on heavily. A general sense that the city’s worries and challenges were not a priority for a Republican governor from the other side of the state.

Well, Corbett is finished, in significant part because 88 percent of Philly voters cast their ballots for Wolf.

So how will the city fare with Governor Tom Wolf, a progressive Democrat, running Pennsylvania?

Better, probably, but not nearly as well as many imagine.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Our New Governor

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

In September, Philadelphia magazine’s own Steve Volk profiled a man with an even shorter name than him: Tom Wolf. The article, “Perfect Stranger,” was a close look at the man who many don’t know much about even after almost 1.9 million Pennsylvanians voted for him on Tuesday.

Here are five quotes from Volk’s fall profile to keep in mind when Wolf begins his term next year.

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Live Coverage of 2014 Election Returns

Tom Wolf at a recent campaign rally with President Obama. Photo  | Jeff Fusco

Tom Wolf at a recent campaign rally with President Obama. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Follow the 2014 election returns with live tweeting from Patrick (@pkerkstra) Kerkstra and Joel (@JoelMMathis) Mathis, who’ve commandeered the Philly Mag Twitter account.


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