Gov. Tom Corbett. (AP Photo)
Ready for a month of fun?
Our state legislators return to Harrisburg today to begin a four-week session that probably won't produce much action on some of the biggest issues facing Pennsylvania – but could, at least, produce a fair amount of fodder for us.
What could happen: Our Karen Langley takes a look at the possible agenda for the session; among the issues that could make it through in the next four weeks are a cigarette tax to deliver extra funds to Philadelphia schools, improved monitoring of prescription drugs through an electronic database and new child-protection provisions.
What probably won't: It's rare that Mr. Corbett makes a public appearance these days without mentioning pension reform, but the more the governor talks, the less it seems anyone in Harrisburg is listening. And Mr. Corbett himself seems to understand that pension reform won't go anywhere this fall; he's already pledged to call a special session to address the issue if he's re-elected. And although house Majority Leader Mike Turzai is calling on the governor to renew his push for modernizing the state's system to sell beer, wine and booze, Mr. Corbett seems reluctant to jump back into that debate.
Election-year politics in the background: Mr. Corbett may find that even his Republican partners in Harrisburg are a bit uncooperative after he cut $72 million in operational funds for the Legislature from the 2014-15 budget, something Mr. Corbett said was a result of the Legislature's inaction on pension reform. And will Democrats work to give Mr. Corbett a boost with Election Day less than two months away? Not likely.
Lest we forget: We're probably going to see and hear plenty from Mr. Corbett while the General Assembly is in session, because he badly needs a legislative win of any kind between now and November. Why? Two more polls, both released last week, show healthy leads for Tom Wolf, Mr. Corbett's opponent. YouGov.com found Mr. Wolf with a 46-35 lead among likely voters – and those figures jump to 50 to 39 when those who are leaning towards a particular candidate are included -- and a new Quinnipiac University poll showed Mr. Wolf with a commanding 59-35 lead.