Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Update! Update! There's a guv race - and more

Dem candidates are going to town; lawmakers are out of town; and Corbett, if you missed it, left town.

Students, parents and staff who are frustrated with state education funding demonstrate Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, near Central High School in Philadelphia ahead of a scheduled visit by Gov. Tom Corbett. The Governor, however, canceled his appearance at the last minute and instead held a news conference at his office in Philly. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Students, parents and staff who are frustrated with state education funding demonstrate Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, near Central High School in Philadelphia ahead of a scheduled visit by Gov. Tom Corbett. The Governor, however, canceled his appearance at the last minute and instead held a news conference at his office in Philly. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)Read more

DYING FOR an update on the race for Pennsylvania governor and doings in your Legislature?

Come on, you know you're riveted to both.

They mean promises of action, pledges of reforms, goo-goo rhetoric reaching to the rafters and plenty of personality polishing.

What's more exhilarating than an election year with the office of governor, the entire state House and half the Senate up for grabs?

Oh, you only want the shorthand update?

A bunch of Democrats are saying the same things; the incumbent GOP guv continues to stroll down Stupid Street; and lawmakers maintain their quest to remain inconsequential.

Details?

Eight announced Democrats, a/k/a "The Unknowables," have voters perplexed. Polling shows the strongest numbers belong to an unannounced candidate, former state Auditor General Jack Wagner of Pittsburgh.

And every Democrat, including Wagner, draws more than a majority of "not sure" answers from voters asked for "favorable/unfavorable" opinions.

Money, of course, can change that.

Tom Wolf, Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord lead that race.

But Schwartz, McCord, Katie McGinty, Wolf, Ed Pawlowski, John Hanger, et al continue to fill candidate forums and campaign news releases with all manner of plans to make Pennsylvania a progressive paradise.

Everything from legalizing and taxing pot to taxing the evil natural gas drillers to better fund schools (sorry, invest in our future).

Who's winning the issues war?

Well, the candidate who hammers issues more than any other, former state Environmental Secretary Hanger, is the only Democrat in a Quinnipiac University poll losing to Gov. Corbett.

Speaking of whom, who thought it was politically smart for Corbett to ditch that planned visit to Central High last week?

On what I'm pretty sure was his first Philly visit since his eighth-grade field trip, Corbett clearly was seeking to soften an anti-public education image by honoring academic achievement at one of the city's best schools.

Good idea.

But because of protesters, somebody thought the better route to recovery from basement-level popularity was to beat a retreat; so in an election year with education key to the debate, in a city and region that can decide the outcome, Team Corbett leaves an image of, well, his back.

Speaking of which, your Legislature's back next week.

Lawmakers had this week off. That's because whenever there's a one-day holiday such as MLK Day, legislators take a weeklong holiday.

And, really, who's more deserving?

Who does more for you?

Why, just last week the House voted overwhelmingly to set up a commission to study school funding because that's never been done and surely the education or appropriations committees can't be expected to do that or know anything about school funding. And, besides, who doesn't want or need another commission with another study?

But, hey, you hang in there.

Democratic Philly Rep. Dwight Evans wants you to decide.

Yep, he's got a resolution for a ballot question this May on whether we should raise taxes to pay more for schools.

He wants to ask voters if they'd like to raise sales taxes, business taxes, income taxes or any combination thereof to provide "dedicated funding" for education.

Democracy at work, right? Let the people decide.

Except (a) even if it were to pass the Republican-controlled House, which opposes tax increases and argues we pay enough for schools, and (b) if it actually gets on the ballot, it's a nonbinding resolution.

Oh, and when I ask House GOP leader Mike Turzai, who controls the flow of legislation, if he'd consider Evans' measure, he looks at me and says, "No."

So there, I think you're all caught up.

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer