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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

State Sen. Jake CormanState Sen. Jake Corman

The key to recovering after a long weekend -- like, say, the one you spent hopping between receptions at Pennsylvania Society? You need a good breakfast.

1) There are already hints about how Gov.-elect Tom Wolf's push for a severance tax might play out, our Karen Langley said. Republican Sen. Jake Corman, the new Senate majority leader, said a compromise would have to include work on pension reform.

2) Gov. Tom Corbett is looking forward to taking some time off once Mr. Wolf takes office.

3) In spite of an occasionally shaky first term – and a grand jury investigation over leaks from her office – state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would run for a second term.

4) That grand jury probe into Ms. Kane's office? Retiring Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille said it could be more serious than the attorney general has let on.

5) Just a few weeks after Mr. Corman ousted him from his leadership position, Sen. Dominic Pileggi apparently will join a huge field of folks running for a seat on the state Supreme Court, Politics PA reports. Note: We've left a message at Mr. Pileggi's office to see if we can confirm this; we'll let you know what we hear.

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Corbett's next act

Published by Karen Langley on .

How do you follow four years as Pennsylvania's governor? 

It's a question Tom Corbett is still considering.

"We're just taking some time," he told reporters at an event in New York, where much of the state's political class gathered for the annual Pennsylvania Society weekend.

"There's a period of decompression," he said. "You figure the last ten years I've been going at about a thousand miles an hour most of the time. So now I get to take some time off."

That time off may include a trip to Florida to watch spring training, a vacation in the Caribbean, time at the Corbetts' condo in South Carolina.

But people are starting to call, he said, asking him to talk with them before making any commitments. He has a bit of an elevator pitch: "I have a great deal of experience now after 10 years in public service that I think makes it somewhat unique."

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At PA Society, hints of potential compromises

Published by Karen Langley on .

NEW YORK --  In the coming months, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf and the strengthened GOP legislative majorities will have to find a way to close a budget shortfall recently estimated at $1.85 billion.

It's no small task, particularly since the incoming Democratic governor opposes Republican efforts to reduce state pension costs by remaking retiree benefits and supports tax changes -- imposing a drilling levy, asking more from high earners in income taxes -- that have not been embraced by Republicans.

Neither the new General Assembly nor the governor are sworn in until January, and much remains to be seen. But one possible path to compromise was suggested this weekend, as officials and lobbyists mingled Saturday at a gathering hosted by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association.

At the event, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, newly chosen by the Republican caucus, was asked by a reporter if he saw a natural gas severance tax being called for a floor vote. He said he didn't know.

But he added that such a vote would not happen until changes were made to the retirement systems for state and public school workers.

"We're not going to consider any new revenue until we do pension reform," he said, noting that a pensions proposal from new Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne would be next year's Senate Bill 1.

"We're not ruling anything in or out," Corman continued. "We're going to work with the new governor. But there's no tax -- a Marcellus Shale tax, tobacco tax, whatever you want -- there's no sin tax that's going to cover our costs for public pensions and Medicaid. There's just not enough money there."

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Flu keeps senator from Pennsylvania Society

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

Congress's protracted budget dance isn't the only thing keeping U.S. Sen. Bob Casey from Pennsylvania Society festivities this weekend.

He has a bad case of the flu. 

Mr. Casey has been making it down to the Senate floor all day for various procedural votes and confirmations but isn't well enough to make the trek to New York, where Pennsylvania lawmakers, lobbyists, campaign operatives and leaders of special interest groups convene annually for a weekend of brunches, cocktail hours, political speeches, black-tie receptions and the main event: the society's annual dinner. 

"Sen. Casey wasn't feeling well this morning and his doctor determined that he has the flu," his spokesman John Rizzo said Friday. "While Sen. Casey is voting today he won't be traveling to events this weekend."

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Wolf: "Personally, I've been sticking to water"

Published by Karen Langley on .

Here at Pennsylvania Society, a land of open bars for the state politicians and influence peddlers mingling in New York this weekend, what's a member of the no-gift Wolf team to do?

Governor-elect Tom Wolf has asked members of his transition team to sign an ethics code that includes a promise not to accept any gift that "could influence the manner in which I perform my duties."

Wolf isn't hosting his own party. (Like last year, he instead donated money to charity.) But he's scheduled to speak at two events and is expected to visit more.

Asked by a reporter this afternoon about the cocktail dilemma, Wolf had an answer: "Personally, I've been sticking to water."

But he added that he doesn't expect a team member who accepts a beverage to track down the event's host to reimburse them.

"The idea is to make sure we're behaving ethically and that we're not taking gifts that would not otherwise be part of the program," he said.

He gave an example. As secretary of revenue in the Rendell administration, Wolf went to a Phillies game and someone in marketing gave him a bag of goodies: a jersey, a hat, a baseball signed by Chase Utley and another that had been used in practice.

Wolf liked the souvenirs, and so back at the office he went online to the Phillies store, found out what they cost and, after adding six percent for sales tax -- he was the revenue secretary, after all -- sent a check to the marketing department.

"I think that's the kind of thing that you do," he said.

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