I don’t know if it’s spring or tick season, allergies or adrenaline shots to combat allergies, but suddenly the Capital City’s itchy and abloom with big ideas.
Unclear if we all breathe them in, or if they’re just something to sneeze at.
What’s certain, for the moment, is Harrisburg’s hyperactive.
The Republican-run state House has a “Government Done Right” proposal (at last!). And an “Energize PA” package to deal, I guess, with our overall low energy.
“Done Right,” we’re told, will cut costs and right-size government. “Energize” will create those illusive “family-sustaining jobs” with manufacturing tied to natural gas, all without increasing taxes and fees (sort of).
And on the same day, Monday, that the GOP pushed to reform government and make Pennsylvania an Eden of economic glory and happiness, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf moved to save the planet. Again.
Take a breath. Keep up.
Wolf, surrounded by Democratic lawmakers, said Pennsylvania’s joining 23 other states in a U.S. Climate Alliance, though one might wonder if less than half the states constitute a “U.S.” alliance.
And he unveiled a new state plan to battle climate change, 230 pages, dated 2018. This after, three months ago, signing an executive order aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and creating a “Green Government Council.”
So, seems we’re on our way to hand-holding unity to save the planet.
Except, of course, for the fact the “U.S.” alliance ticks off many Republicans since it’s in response to the Trump administration’s nose-thumb to the Paris accords.
Speaking of Republicans, House Speaker Mike Turzai, surrounded by GOP lawmakers, was in cheerleader mode at a Monday news conference (that still might be going on) about expanding natural gas-related manufacturing to create “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Yes, this is “Energize PA,” eight bills aimed at providing tax credits and other incentives for companies building factories on old industrial sites, encouraging investment in and distribution of natural gas, and cutting environmental permit times with a new state agency.
Wait, what? Republicans expanding government?
Well, in this case, yes. A Pennsylvania Permitting Commission to take environmental permitting away from the Department of Environmental Protection.
I’m betting lots of businesses like the idea.
The progressive online news service Pennsylvania Capitol-Star reports much of the GOP plan comes from a 2017 study by the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company, funded by state business interests.
A Turzai news release Tuesday says “Energize PA” could mean 100,000 new jobs, a $60 billion increase in the state’s gross domestic product, and $2 billion to $3 billion in new state revenue, the same claim made in the McKinsey report.
So, our economic future seems assured.
But wait, there’s more.
On a parallel track, GOP House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler’s “Government Done Right” is a broad array of money-saving debt reform, agency consolidation, and, finally, the end of “job-crushing” government red tape.
(I recall Tom Ridge running for governor against “job-crushing” red tape in 1994. Guess after cutting it during his two terms, it grew back.)
All this, I should note, comes after Wolf’s plan, “Restore Pennsylvania,” was announced earlier this year.
It calls for spending $4.5 billion for infrastructure, including flood prevention and broadband expansion, to be paid for with borrowing against a nonexistent severance tax on natural gas.
But, hey, maybe this is the year Republicans say, “He’s right, let’s tax the industry we’re promoting.”
And, perhaps coincidentally on Monday, Rob Wonderling, head of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, was in Harrisburg pushing a chamber-led effort to address the state’s mediocre-to-lousy national rankings in economic growth, job growth, and population growth.
It’s called “Grow PA.”
If everybody worked together, seems to me the order would be to do government Right, then Restore PA, then Energize PA, then Grow PA.
But that might make sense.
Anyway, take heart. All this activity surely will improve our state.
Plus, we’re already a national leader in something: tick-borne disease.