Morning Headlines: Pennsylvanians Have Had It With Governor Wolf, Legislature

Their approval ratings are plummeting in the wake of the budget standoff. Plus: Sonic booms down the Shore, Phillies Google a a number cruncher, DNC preparations enter the home stretch and the legislature takes steps to shrink itself.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf's hopes of ending Pennsylvania's 99-day-old state budget impasse were dashed Wednesday when nine of his fellow Democrats joined all House Republicans to vote against his revised plan to raise billions in income and gas drilling taxes.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media Wednesday, October 7, 2015, in Harrisburg.

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know:

A pox on all their houses in Harrisburg.

It’s now calendar year 2016, and the state budget for fiscal 2016 remains unfinished after Gov. Tom Wolf line-item vetoed parts of the spending bill the Republican-controlled General Assembly sent him at year’s end. The standoff has sent both the Governor’s and the legislature’s job approval ratings plummeting, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll. Penn Live reports that only 33 percent of Pennsylvania voters surveyed gave the governor an “excellent” or “good” job rating, worse than any of his three predecessors were doing one year into their first term. Moreover, a whopping two-thirds of respondents said the state was on the wrong track. If there’s any comforting news for Wolf in this poll, it’s that more respondents blame the General Assembly than the Governor for this state of affairs: 52 percent of respondents said the legislature was responsible for this mess, and only 15 percent of them rated its job “excellent” or “good.”

Pennsylvania’s legislature takes a step toward shrinking itself.

Given the low esteem in which Pennsylvanians currently hold it (see above), this news is probably cause for rejoicing: the General Assembly took the first step toward shrinking the size of the nation’s second-largest and second-highest-paid legislature (and one of its most expensive). The Reading Eagle reports that the state Senate approved a bill previously passed in the House to cut the size of the House from 203 members to 151. The bill is one of several floating around the Capitol seeking to slash the size of either or both houses of the legislature. As doing so requires an amendment to the state Constitution, this bill or any other bill passed by both houses will have to pass again in next year’s legislative session, then go before the voters in a state election.

Preparations for the Democratic National Convention enter the home stretch.

The 2016 Democratic National Convention is six months away, and yesterday afternoon, Mayor Jim Kenney and Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Rev. Leah D. Daughtry went before the media to assure everyone preparations were going smoothly. reported that Daughtry described the convention planning as “on time, on task and on budget,” and Kenney assured those assembled that the convention would not cause the wholesale disruption last fall’s papal visit caused. He also promised to be up-front about what the event would cost taxpayers. DNC Host Committee Executive Director Kevin Washo said the fundraising goal for covering convention costs was $85 million but declined to say how much had been raised to date. 6ABC reported that Kenney also encouraged locals to be nice to the delegates once they got here. That might be a good idea, given that they’re expected to drop some $350 million into the coffers of local restaurants, shops and other businesses.

A whole lotta shakin’ (not?) goin’ on downashore.

The Twitterverse lit up yesterday afternoon with reports of earthquakes at locations all over South Jersey and as far north as New Haven, Connecticut. It turns out those weren’t ground tremors, but air ones: at least nine sonic booms caused by military aircraft flying over the state. The military said the source was most likely two supersonic jets flying exercises from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. The first sonic boom report came at 1:24 p.m. yesterday near Hammonton, New Jersey, followed by eight more reports along the coast from southern New Jersey to Long Island. This wasn’t the first time supersonic military planes have caused sonic booms over the Jersey Shore, but they happen so rarely people probably didn’t realize what they were when they heard and felt them.

The Phillies Google a new number-cruncher.

We can’t wait to see this on YouTube: the Phillies signaled their desire to make Big Data work for them yesterday afternoon by hiring 30-year-old Andy Galdi to run the team’s baseball analytics office. Galdi’s current gig is quantitative analyst for Google subsidiary YouTube. The guy’s no stranger to baseball, having interned with the Mets and freelanced for the Cardinals, but it’s clearly his analytical chops that appealed to the Phillies. Galdi’s hiring is in keeping with Phillies GM Matt Klentak‘s pledge to “use every form of technology and information available” to make the best decisions possible for building the team.

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