HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf is presenting a state budget proposal for 2016-17 while at the same time trying to finish a budget for 2015-16. The governor calls the current situation is a crisis. Wolf is delivering a nearly $33.3 billion budget proposal. That’s a two-year, 14% increase. To make it balance, he’ll need to persuade Republicans to pass a nearly $3 billion tax increase. In his budget address, Wolf is warning lawmakers that they need to recognize what he calls the “ticking time bomb” of the state’s dire fiscal reality, or find another job. He says the tax increase is necessary to fix school funding disparities and a deficit, plus meet rising costs for pensions, prisons, and health care.
HARRISBURG – On the same day Gov. Wolf is giving his annual budget address, a group of House Republican lawmakers have called for the adoption of new legislation that would prevent the interruption of crucial government services in the event of any future state budget impasse. Bill sponsor, Chester County Rep. Dan Truitt said his legislation would create a temporary emergency budget fund, enabling the budget secretary to continue payments to health and human services at the previous year’s level until a final budget agreement could be reached. The proposal would have deposited state revenues that continued to be collected into the Temporary Emergency Budget Fund. The budget secretary would then have been able to distribute payments as necessary. Expenditures would have been limited, however, to the dollar amounts allocated during the previous year’s budget.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The PA Senate’s Democratic floor leader says Republicans are moving too quickly in planning a vote this week on whether to remove Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office. Minority Leader Jay Costa said today that he’d prefer to wait at least until March to debate Kane’s ability to perform her job with a suspended law license. The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to employ a provision of the state constitution to remove her from office. The state Supreme Court voted unanimously to suspend Kane’s law license in October. Republicans will need at least a few Democrat votes to reach the super-majority of 33 required for removal. Costa says he’s not sure how many members of his caucus support Kane’s removal.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The Pennsylvania Department of Health says five people have tested negative for the Zika virus and test results for 14 others are pending. The people who’ve been tested did so because they’ve traveled abroad to areas where they could have been exposed to the mosquito-borne virus. Most people recover in about a week from symptoms that include fever, a rash, and achy joints. But doctors believe the virus puts pregnant women at serious risks for birth defects. The greatest risk is for those who’ve traveled to areas in Central and South America where the virus is rampant.
vicissitude /vi-SIS-i-tood/ noun: a change or variation occurring in the course of something
STATE COLLEGE – Meteorologist Joe Lundberg says the area will get some snow today, but nothing like the major storm we saw last month. Roadways are mostly wet, but be alert for slick spots. Joe says expect a total of 4 – 6 inches when it’s all over later tonight. WDAC’s Winter Watch has several weather related announcements. You can find a complete list at wdac.com.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania government will set a modern state record for gridlock when Gov. Tom Wolf sends lawmakers a new spending plan even as they fight over the current budget. Today, Wolf will deliver an approximately $32 billion plan to the Republican-controlled Legislature. He’ll need to break Republican resistance to a $1 billion-plus tax increase. Wolf wants the money to close a long-term deficit and narrow funding gaps between wealthy and poor school districts. Meanwhile, billions of dollars for prisons, hospitals, and schools are in limbo, and lawmakers are frustrated by the seven-month battle. In his budget address to lawmakers, Wolf will tell lawmakers that they must fully fund schools and fix the deficit, or they will force schools to close and local taxes to increase.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The top-ranking Republican in the PA Senate says the chamber will vote this week on whether to remove Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who’s been without a valid law license since October. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati announced that a decision to vote on Wednesday was made after “considerable discussion” with senators. Kane is awaiting trial on criminal charges of leaking secret grand jury material and lying about it under oath. The first-term Democrat has vigorously denied the allegations and is pursuing a second term. Kane spokesman Chuck Ardo says she considers the Senate action unwarranted and unconstitutional. At least 33 “yes” votes in the Senate will be required to remove her.
HARRISBURG – Sen. Stewart Greenleaf of Bucks & Montgomery Counties has launched a website to raise support for his legislation to increase organ donations in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 180, known as the Donate Life PA Act, would help increase organ and tissue donation in the state through increased education on the critical need for organs and removing current barriers that prevent many potential organs from being procured. The site, SenatorGreenleaf,com/organ-donation, features stories of several Pennsylvanians who have received anatomical gifts and how organ donation has saved their lives or those of their children. Pennsylvania is facing a lack of organ donations. Someone dies every 18 hours in Pennsylvania waiting for an organ transplant. About 490 people die each year in the Commonwealth waiting for organs. More than 8,000 people are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant in the state. The website also includes a tool to help people contact their state legislator to ask that they support the legislation.
LANCASTER – A Lancaster Police officer was hospitalized after an accidental shooting during a training exercise early this morning. Officials say the officer was at an indoor gun range when he accidentally shot himself in the leg. The unidentified officer was taken to Lancaster General where he’s in good condition and is expected to be released later today.