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Voter ID, mayor's race live on

Published by Tim McNulty on .

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The presidential election may be over, but Pennsylvania's strict voter ID requirements (and the legal battles surrounding them) live on. Here's my story.

In the state House, leadership remains status quo. That's GOP leadership above (with Speaker Sam Smith and Majority Leader Mike Turzai at left), and Laura Olson has more.

Have you heard Pittsburgh's mayoral race is alive and well (or at least Ravenstahl fundraisers)? Joe Smydo puts the mayor's budget speech yesterday into that context:

In what could have passed for a stump speech, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl told city council in his annual budget address Tuesday that Pittsburgh over the past eight years had rebounded from near-bankruptcy to a "period of rebirth and resurgence" that he intends to extend to all 90 neighborhoods.

Mr. Ravenstahl, who faces re-election next year, unveiled a proposed 2013 capital budget of $65 million, including $10 million for street paving, $3 million for demolition of dilapidated buildings and $16 million for neighborhood upgrades such as ball fields, playgrounds and spray parks.

. . . Councilman Bill Peduto, who already has formed a mayoral campaign committee, said it was inappropriate for Mr. Ravenstahl, who initially opposed the Act 47 recovery plan as a councilman 2004, to brag now about the financial improvements that oversight helped to engender.

Though Mr. Ravenstahl acknowledged that the city still has financial progress to make, Mr. Peduto said the mayor made too rosy a portrayal of the city's progress.

"Our budget is far from secure," he said, noting that the mayor's address did not include "any new announcement, any new initiative, any new endeavor" that would further boost the pension fund or otherwise move the city's financial recovery to the next level.

. . . But Controller Michael Lamb, another would-be challenger to Mr. Ravenstahl, said the city still isn't putting enough money into the pension fund to boost its long-term solvency. The fund was 57 percent funded June 30.

Mr. Lamb also criticized Mr. Ravenstahl for touting six years of decreasing crime rates in his address, noting that police Chief Nathan Harper, in the bureau's annual report, said the reductions "mirror the national trend."

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