Tuesday heds: Tax exempt questions

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Good morning. With health care reform put off until Thursday . . .

Moriah Balingit has the story on the Supreme Court banning mandatory lifetime sentences for juveniles. There are 11 underage defendants awaiting homicide trials in Allegheny County.

County Controller Chelsa Wagner wants a review of tax exempt properties countywide to see if the county is due more real estate revenue without having to raise taxes, writes Len Barcousky. In a similar move city councilwoman Natalia Rudiak is holding a public meeting today at 1 p.m. centering on UPMC's tax-exempt status.


Turzai: Voter ID to win Pa for Romney

Published by Tim McNulty on .

PoliticsPa has a splashy story on comments Pa's House Majority Leader Mike Turzai made at a Republican committee meeting this weekend, wherein he said a GOP voter ID bill will help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes:

"We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we've talked about for years," said Turzai in a speech to committee members Saturday. He mentioned the law among a laundry list of accomplishments made by the GOP-run legislature.

"Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it's done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."

Democrats jumped on the quote, saying it showed the GOP bill was about dampening Democratic votes and not about claims on voter fraud. Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, released the statement below:

"Representative Turzai made a remarkably blunt admission that the true intentions of Voter ID are to stop Democrats from voting and to rig elections in favor of Republicans. Turzai did not discuss voter fraud or voter impersonation because they never happen. He did not discuss protecting the integrity of our election system, because it is threatened only by Republican attempts to disenfranchise voters by creating obstacles to voting for groups who generally vote Democratic. He only discussed handing the presidential election to Mitt Romney. Individuals lawmakers who continue to support this policy ought to be ashamed and ought to be held accountable."

The ACLU is suing to block the voter ID law.

Video of Turzai posted by House Dems is here.

UPDATE: Salon gets response from the Turzai camp:

Stephen Miskin, Turzai’s spokesman, defended the remarks, pointing to alleged instances of voter fraud in the state. “Rep. Turzai was speaking at a partisan political event. He was simply referencing, for the first time in a long while, the Republican presidential candidate will be on a more even keel thanks to Voter ID,” he said. “Anyone looking further into it has their own agenda.”


Obama ad hits back on "doing fine"

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The Obama campaign is running a new ad in Pa and other battleground states pushing back on conservative complaints about his "private sector is doing fine" comments.

The rather soft spot talks about his calls for increased education funding and tax increases on the wealthy, and mentions "Mitt Romney and his billionaire allies."

According to the Huffington Post it's playing in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Florida.


Monday heds: Health care day?

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Good morning. You can join us in crashing the Supreme Court liveblog here when opinions are due at 10 a.m.. Even if a ruling on Obama's health care reform bill is pushed off until later in the week, the court may still issue its opinion on police immigration checks in Arizona vs United States.

Reminder: HCR opponents have spent $235 million on ads attacking it, and supporters $69 million. Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are in the top 5 TV markets nationwide airing the attack ads. (NYT)

State lawmakers may get a budget breakdown by today. Gov. Tom Corbett seems to be in a good mood about it. (Laura Olson)

Some criticized former Attorney General Corbett for not bringing charges earlier convicted child abuser Jerry Sandusky, but Friday's verdict was a "complete vidication" of the pace of the probe, said gubernatorial spokesman Kevin Harley.


Birthday cupcakes, GOP rally cries

Published by Laura Olson on .

Coming off of a week of hectic budget negotiations and finally the announcement of a framework, Gov. Tom Corbett spent Friday evening rallying the GOP faithful to work on races all down the ballot this fall.

Corbett told the Republican State Committee crowd at the Hershey Lodge not to be intimidated by the one-million-voter advantage held by Democrats and headlines that Pennsylvania may be more blue than purple.

"If that were the case, then I wouldn't be standing here talking to you," Corbett said. "Do the same thing you did for me in 2010."

He urged committee members to work hard on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith (who earlier reiterated his primary-campaign message that President Barack Obama and Sen. Bob Casey are one in the same), as well as Republican congressional candidates, row officers and state legislative hopefuls. "Don't let these races get lost in the clutter of all the other ads on TV," he said.

His remarks -- which followed a "Happy Birthday" chorus and American-flag-decorated chocolate cupcakes honoring Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley's birthday -- also touched on the state budget, which he pledged will be signed into law by June 30.

He noted that would mean the second on-time budget in two years, drawing applause from the crowd.

However, he was quick to add that it's a $27.66 billion framework that he and GOP lawmakers have agreed to so far: "Things could change as we go through the last couple of days."

The governor also gave perhaps his strongest defense yet of agreeing to add $500 million back into the $27.14 billion spending plan he announced in February.

"Things have looked a little better -- not a lot better -- but a little better for Pennsylvania," Corbett said. "Revenues are much better than where we thought they would be at this time of year, and we think that they're going to get better. ... We're going to be able to put money back in over my projection and it's going to help people in many, many different parts of the commonwealth."