Pennsylvania Governor

Matt Rourke / AP

 

During his campaign, Tom Wolf pitched himself as "a different kind of governor." He made good on a promise to donate his salary to charity and refuses to drive a state car. Upon taking office, he swiftly enacted a gift ban for the executive branch and has been known to refuse freebies, such as a bottle of water.

But the Wolf administration has continued one political tradition--nepotism.

PA Budget Becomes Law; Some Lawmakers Cry Foul

Jul 12, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state officially has a budget.

The $31.5 billion spending plan went into effect at midnight on Monday, without Governor Tom Wolf’s signature. But negotiations still aren’t finished on the revenue plan to back it up.

Deadline notwithstanding, lawmakers did seem to have a productive day of talks on the spending plan.

Senate GOP spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher called the progress “encouraging.” She said it seems likely a vote could come soon.

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he'll let a roughly $31 billion spending bill become law without his signature, even though lawmakers are struggling to figure out how to pay for some of it.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

Despite a Wednesday deadline, Pennsylvania is still without a budget. The State House and Senate have agreed to a $31.6 billion spending plan, but Gov.Tom Wolf has refused to sign it without an accompanying revenue plan.  

 

 

Plan To Pay For $31.6 Bil Budget Still Unclear

Jun 30, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In this year’s budget negotiations, state legislators seem eager to show their constituents that last year’s nine-month deadlock is behind them.

After receiving the House’s nearly $31.6 billion spending plan Wednesday, the Senate quickly passed its general appropriations in a bipartisan vote, just a day before the Thursday deadline.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Republican Patrick Browne, said the Senate proposal contains only minor changes, notably adding money for higher education.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  After a nine-month-long standoff over last year’s state budget, Pennsylvania lawmakers seem committed to getting a verdict out quickly this year. But there is still little information from the Capitol on what exactly the budget contains, and advocates from across the commonwealth are concerned the speed will come at the expense of quality.

Ralliers with the campaign Pennsylvania’s Choice congregated in the Capitol rotunda Monday to push for more spending in education, human services, and the environment.

Wolf Signs Bill Allowing Wine To Be Sold In Grocery Stores, Internet

Jun 8, 2016
Bradley C Bower / AP

 

A new law gives Pennsylvania consumers many more options about where to purchase their favorite varieties of wine.

Governor Wolf Calls For Reimagining Of Pennsylvania Cities

May 16, 2016
Keystone Crossroads

How does a man who has spent his life in a town of fewer than 1,400 people become a big fan of cities? Well, he becomes a businessman — and then the governor.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are criticizing the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for fining ride-sharing company Uber $11.4 million.

Right-Wing Group Chalks Up More Election Wins

May 2, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 An advocacy group focused on bankrolling conservative candidates for the state Legislature is flexing its muscles after the Pennsylvania primary.

The Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, commonly referred to as CAP, has run afoul of top Republican lawmakers for its “purist” views opposing organized labor and eschewing lawmaker perks, like pensions. But being likened to dictators hasn’t slowed CAP down.  

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Domestic abuse victims in Pennsylvania will no longer have to wait for as long as two years to get a divorce from spouses convicted of abuse.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation on Thursday which makes two major changes to how courts deal with domestic violence divorce proceedings.

PA Internet News Service

By the end of 2016, Pennsylvanians should be able to set aside money in tax-exempt savings accounts to spend on the wide range of expenses brought on by disabilities.

The new Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also called ABLE, allows family members to contribute up to $14,000 total per year into an “ABLE account,” which is modeled after the Section 529 accounts that parents can use to set aside pre-tax savings for their children’s college bills.

George Yost Coffin / Wikimedia Commons

As Pennsylvania’s government faces a budget deficit of well more than $1 billion in the next fiscal year, one legislator is teaming up with a Harrisburg think tank to call for changes to income tax rates.

According to state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the three proposals hashed out Monday would close the state’s “structural” budget deficit by shifting the income tax burden from low- and middle-income residents to the wealthiest Pennsylvanians.

Marc Levy / AP Images

Gov. Tom Wolf says he'll sign an executive order to prohibit discrimination by state contractors against people who are lesbian, gay or transgender.

Wolf said during Essential Pittsburgh on Wednesday that he had hoped the Legislature would pass legislation designed to outlaw discrimination based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Schools Eye State I.O.U. On Construction Costs

Apr 4, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state’s budget gridlock is over, but school districts are focusing on another piece of unwelcome news: after years of delayed reimbursements for state-approved construction and building maintenance, they’ll go without any state funding for such projects.

About $306 million in construction reimbursements was nixed when Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a budget-related piece of legislation known as the fiscal code last week.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

  For Pennsylvania lawmakers, the problem of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan has served as a rallying cry, a teachable moment and, now, a political cudgel.

This month, House and Senate members were determined not to waste Michigan’s crisis, invoking it to propel their own efforts to minimize lead exposure from old house paint and water pipes. But as some touted legislation, one House Republican criticized the governor’s office for not springing into action in the same way.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The financial oversight authority created by the state legislature now has a full five-member board. For several months, the board was down to two members.

The city is currently suing the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority for withholding gambling tax revenue when, the city said, the board had open seats and no legal right to withhold the money. For months, the board was down to two members until Gov. Tom Wolf, Sen. Jay Costa and Rep. Frank Dermody appointed members in the last month.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic state lawmakers who were reliable backers of Governor Tom Wolf’s agenda during the budget impasse say they may not stick so closely to his side in the next year.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said his caucus will do some soul-searching ahead of the next round of budget negotiations, after coming away with so little from the budget impasse.

“We might go down a different path,” Costa told reporters Wednesday. “I don’t know where we’ll end up.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

When the state’s finances are the subject of partisan debate, it helps to turn to the analyses of the ratings agencies that judge creditworthiness – and two of the three major credit ratings agencies are warning that Pennsylvania’s fiscal problems aren’t over, even if its budget impasse is.

With Budget Impasse Ending, What's Next?

Mar 24, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP Images

After battling the legislature for nearly nine months, what finally convinced Governor Wolf to allow the the supplemental budget to close out Fiscal Year 2015-16? And while the state budget crisis is over for now, what will happen between now and the next budget deadline on July 1? We'll talk with John Micek, editorial and opinion pages editor for the Harrisburg Patriot-News and PennLive.

After Nine Months, Budget Battles Come To An End

Mar 24, 2016
Chris Knight / AP Images

Nearly nine months into the fiscal year, Pennsylvania's budget impasse will end this week. Governor Wolf has said he will allow a roughly six billion dollar supplemental funding plan to become law, but without his signature. "I cannot in good conscience attach my name to a budget that simply doesn't add up," said the Governor who insists the budget is unbalanced, exacerbating a nearly two billion dollar structural deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1. We'll talk with Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai about the governor's decision and the end of the 2015-2016 budget impasse.

Wolf’s Budget Finale Leaves Some Loose Ends

Mar 23, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

 

The state spending stalemate is ending, but lawmakers could face some unfinished budget business.

While Governor Tom Wolf will let the rest of a state budget take effect, he’s vetoing companion legislation known as the fiscal code.

The fiscal code is often referred to as the budget’s instruction manual. Wolf’s office said this one had directions the governor didn’t appreciate – like wiping out new gas drilling regulations and authorizing borrowing to reimburse school construction costs (the governor said the debt service will be too expensive at this point).  

Budget Plan Puts GOP, Wolf On Collision Course

Mar 16, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

State lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf could be headed for another clash over the Pennsylvania budget, now more than eight months late.

Top Republican lawmakers say they’ll pass a plan this week to restore funds vetoed by the governor late last year. The more than $6 billion proposal would bring the total state budget to about $30 billion, and the supplemental funding aims to make a variety of line items whole again – like the schools, rural hospitals, and agricultural programs on the brink of closing because they haven’t received all their state money.

Do Budget Talks Warrant An Outside Mediator?

Mar 14, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

State budget hearings for the governor’s most recent spending proposal have drawn to a close, but not without an unusual bit of advice from a House lawmaker.

Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-Philadelphia) said it’s time for legislative leaders and the governor’s office to bring in some outside help to end the budget impasse: a third-party mediator.

“I am calling for mediation,” said DeLissio, testifying to the final, sparsely attended budget hearing by the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. “I am concerned that things have been said that cannot be unsaid.”

Wolf Cabinet Member Resigns After Mysterious Leave

Mar 11, 2016
National Guard Bureau / nationalguard.mil

The commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard has resigned after almost two months on an unexplained leave of absence.

Adjutant General James Joseph is stepping down after taking a paid leave of absence that was announced by the Wolf administration Jan. 14.

Last Budget Meeting Was In December, Lawmaker Says

Mar 11, 2016
Governor Tom Wolf / 90.5 WESA

The state hasn’t had a full spending plan for more than eight months, but top lawmakers haven’t yet had a budget meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration in 2016, the House Appropriations Committee chairman said Thursday.

“We haven’t met since December,” said Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware). “And we should have been.”

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Earlier this week, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.15 for workers under the governor’s jurisdiction, and some contractors.

In all, fewer than 500 of the state’s 79,000 workers will be impacted by the order – and those working in the human services sector are excluded altogether.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is raising the minimum wage by nearly $3 an hour, to $10.15, for state government employees and workers on jobs contracted by the state.

The Democrat signed an executive order Monday establishing the new wage minimum. It'll affect a few hundred state employees and a narrow set of state contracts.

Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature hasn't considered Wolf's request to set the minimum at over $10 for everyone. 

Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections

Pennsylvania’s prison system won’t run out of money this month, though it doesn’t technically have spending authority under the state budget.

Nearly half of the state corrections budget was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf late last year, in a bid to force lawmakers back into budget negotiations.

That hasn’t happened, and now the treasury has stepped in to approve payments of prison operating expenses, including employee salaries, security and safety costs, health care and inmates’ food.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Gov. Tom Wolf has cancer.

Wolf announced the diagnosis a statement Wednesday, calling it a treatable form of prostate cancer.

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