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Mon Valley businesswoman to challenge Daley in 49th

Published by Janice Crompton on .

A small business owner and entrepreneur from Washington Township, Fayette County, will challenge longtime state Rep. Peter Daley, D-California, for his seat.

Melanie Stringhill Patterson, 56, today announced she is seeking the Republican nomination for the 49th Legislative District seat, located in the Mon Valley.

"For too long, career politicians in Harrisburg have turned their back on taxpayers, and cost us the jobs we need," Ms. Patterson said in a news release. "It's time for honest, conservative representation that puts taxpayers first."

Ms. Patterson operates a vacation rental business, invented PIBS - disposable paper bibs on a roll, and served as Mrs. United States in 1993.

Her work as a small business owner has given her a realistic view of the way policies effect job creation, Ms. Patterson says.

"Unlike the career politicians, I've run a business and know what works and what doesn't when it comes to helping job creators and employers," Ms. Patterson said. "This real world experience is something I will bring to Harrisburg to spark the job creation our community needs."

Ms. Patterson said she will support conservative causes and she highlighted the contrast between herself and Mr. Daley, who has served for 35 years and is the fourth-longest serving lawmaker in the state.

"I won't take the taxpayer funded per diems; Mr. Daley does. I won't take the taxpayer funded pension; Mr. Daley does. And I will never vote to raise my own pay," Patterson continued.

A former kindergarten and elementary school teacher, Patterson said she also understands how to reform the education system to ensure children are prepared to succeed in the world, with our without higher education.

"The liberal experiment in our schools has failed, and it's time to get back to basics. That means teaching kids real skills instead of teaching to the test, and focusing on the core skills in math, reading, science and technology they will need to succeed," Ms. Patterson said.

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Pennsylvania's almost kind of budget: What they said

Published by Mike Pound on .

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Wolf says he is rejecting parts of a $30.3 billion state budget plan that's already a record six months overdue, but he's freeing up over $23 billion in emergency funding. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Wolf says he is rejecting parts of a $30.3 billion state budget plan that's already a record six months overdue, but he's freeing up over $23 billion in emergency funding. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

This is progress?

Sure, he said he'd release funds to help school and non-profits keep their doors open, but Gov. Tom Wolf used his time in front of reporters to hammer the Republican Legislature for reneging on the budget framework agreement he reached with Senate leaders last month.

UPDATED: Here's the video of the governor's brief address.

I am going to exercise my constitutional right to line item veto this ridiculous exercise in budget futility. I'm calling on our legislators to get back to Harrisburg – back to the work they left unfinished last week. In the meantime, I'm vetoing their $95 million cut to education. I'm also vetoing other items that they don't pay for.

At the same time, I'm allowing emergency funding for our schools to get out. I'm also letting funding go out to our human service agencies and to our counties. But this is on an emergency basis only.

In doing this, I'm expressing the outrage that all of us should feel about the garbage the Republican legislative leaders have tried to dump on us. This budget is wrong for Pennsylvania. And our legislators – the folks we elected to serve us – need to own up to this. They need to do their jobs.

In his response, state GOP Chairman Rob Gleason didn't take Mr. Wolf's bait. Instead, he claimed that the governor had capitulated to the funding that Republicans had sought all along.

Today, Tom Wolf finally admitted his multi-billion dollar mistake. When Tom Wolf issued a complete veto of the Republicans' on-time budget last June, he needlessly plunged our school districts and non-profits into a six-month crisis. Throughout this year, Tom Wolf has repeatedly made special interests his top priority. It is tragic that so many schools and non-profits were faced with unpaid bills, layoffs and even closures because Tom Wolf used them as political pawns in his reckless budget game.

It is time for Tom Wolf to join with Republicans in enacting a fiscally responsible budget that puts our Commonwealth on the right track for the future.

If Mr. Gleason's response is any indication, Republicans won't be in any hurry to return to Harrisburg to take care of the portions of their budget that Gov. Wolf vetoed. So -- has anything actually changed? 

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Wolf to make announcement about GOP budget

Published by Mike Pound on .

(Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette)(Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette)

We should find out later this morning what Gov. Go Time plans to do with the Republican budget that's sitting on his desk.

The GOP-led state Legislature approved a compromise budget last week -- not the one Wolf agreed to with GOP leadship in the Senate and the House a month ago, but a significantly watered-down plan backed by more conservative House Republicans -- and a spokesman for Mr. Wolf said there will be an announcement at 10:30 this morning about that budget.

The governor has options. He can sign the plan into law or he could allow it to become law without his signature. He could slice individual spending items from the budget or he could veto it altogether. It's worth noting that the plan on his desk doesn't have anywhere near the increases in education funding Mr. Wolf had sought; we'll have to wait and see whether that plays a part in the governor's decision.

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Perry on Politics: Expect the unexpected in New Hampshire

Published by James M. Perry on .

Pat Buchanan rallies supporters in 1992. (Associated Press photo)Pat Buchanan rallies supporters in 1992. (Associated Press)

We're finally almost there.

Voters will begin picking delegates to their party conventions at caucuses in Iowa on Feb. 1 and in a primary in New Hampshire eight days later.

Democrats have a front-runner in Hillary Rodham Clinton, though she probably will be challenged here and there by Bernie Sanders. Republicans have no front-runner, though the bellicose Donald Trump leads in early polls, rarely reliable in telling us the identity of the eventual winners.

Thousands of Iowa Republicans will turn out in 1,682 precinct caucuses in living rooms and at church halls and libraries Feb. 1, a Monday, to begin a long and tedious delegate-selection process that won't be finished until every other state has picked its delegates. Right now, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the candidate with a lean and hungry look, seems to be close to locking up the Iowa caucuses. The last two winners in Iowa were Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012 (they both defeated Mitt Romney).

Attention will then shift to New Hampshire, which began holding these presidential primaries in 1916, though not many Americans outside the Granite State took notice until 1952 when General Eisenhower defeated Sen. Robert Taft.

Strange things tend to happen every now and again in New Hampshire. In 1964, Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., thousands of miles away in Saigon, defeated Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller as a write-in candidate.

In 1996, Pat Buchanan, a very angry candidate, narrowly defeated Bob Dole, 27.25 percent to 26.22 percent. Buchanan appealed to many of the same kinds of voters Mr.Trump appeals to now.

"The peasants are coming with pitchforks," Mr. Buchanan said, the peasants being his loyal followers.

He ran in New Hampshire for the first time in 1992 against President George H.W. Bush and picked up a significant 37.5 percent of the vote. He pulled out of the race after that and endorsed Mr. Bush, delivering a rousing speech at the Republican convention in which he said "there was a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America."

Think, he said, what Bill and Hillary Clinton "would impose on America – abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat units – that's change all right. But it is not the kind of change America needs ... and it is not the kind of change we can abide in a nation we still call God's country."

Mr. Buchanan's "peasants with pitch forks" are still out there, just as angry as ever. The big question is, will they attend the caucuses in Iowa or vote in New Hampshire? We shall soon know.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 things to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Ben Carson, left, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas look on as Donald Trump speaks during the Republican debate in Las Vegas, Dec. 15, 2015. (Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)Ben Carson, left, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas look on as Donald Trump speaks during the Republican debate in Las Vegas, Dec. 15, 2015. (Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

We've enjoyed our little pre-Christmas break and we're ready to finish off the year in a big way. So let's hit the reset button, shall we?

1) The Republican presidential candidates held another debate on CNN that Donald Trump didn't win, no matter what he says. Jeb! Bush actually landed a couple of punches on the Teflon Don(ald), although those points would have mattered much more in September. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz turned their attention on each other, giving viewers a couple of interesting non-Trump-related exchanges. And Ben Carson seems more irrelevant with each new debate appearance.

2) More than 18 million people watched last week's Republican debate. Not counting immediate family members of candidates and journalists who were required to cover it, something like 37 people saw the Democratic candidates debate on ABC Saturday night. Sure, the Dems don't have a candidate of Trumpian stature to draw in viewers, but it's still not clear why the Democratic National Committee would schedule debates on Saturday nights.

3) The details have changed slightly, but, shamefully, the story remains the same on Dec. 21 as it did on July 1: Pennsylvania still doesn't have a 2015-16 budget.

4) A lesson in crisis management that Hillary Clinton should have noticed: To lead off the Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders was asked if Ms. Clinton was owed an apology because his campaign staffers improperly accessed Clinton campaign data; Mr. Sanders apologized to Ms. Clinton, immediately and directly. Imagine how quickly Ms. Clinton could have put to rest the continuing annoyance of the State Department email scandal if she had done the same.

5) We're going to miss the candidacy of Lindsey Graham, who announced this morning he was withdrawing from the Republican campaign. He was far and away the most entertaining guy of the bunch.