News & Brews November 12, 2021

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Some public officials to get nearly 6% salary increase

We agree with Rep. Frank Ryan (Lebanon County) that the optics of this are not good. More than 1,000 public officials will get an automatic 5.67% cost-of-living increase this year. This includes >$8,000 raises for Gov. Wolf’s cabinet secretaries and >$12,000 raises for Supreme Court justices. ABC27 reports that the percent increase is tied to the consumer price index, but not everyone thinks officials should take the raise. Last year, Ryan succeeded in pausing the COLA increase, but his efforts to do the same this year were stalled. He, for one, plans to return the full amount of the COLA to the state’s general fund.

School funding case heads to court today

The case that could determine how PA funds public education will be in court today. The plaintiff in William Penn School District v. Pennsylvania Department of Education contends the state’s system of education funding violates our constitution. The Commonwealth Court dismissed the case several years ago because educational funding is not within judicial purview. The state Supreme Court reinstated the case and sent it back to trial court, meaning the judicial branch—and potentially the state Supreme Court—may soon dictate educational funding in violation of the separation of powers.

Laughlin may ditch bid for gov in exchange for ‘powerful’ Senate role

Sen. Dan Laughlin told the Erie Times-News that he would end his not-yet-official bid for governor in exchange for winning the role of Senate President Pro Tempore in the event current Senate President Jake Corman exits that role to run for governor. In Laughlin’s words, “I would certainly consider running for pro tem instead. I only say that because that’s the second most powerful position in Harrisburg and that would not be a bad trade-off.”

Analysis: Twilight of the blue-collar Democrat

Charles McElwee, the editor of RealClear’s public affairs page on Pennsylvania, analyzes this past election’s Republican victories in blue-collar areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, concluding that “in places like South Jersey or Pennsylvania’s coal region, blue-collar voters may decide which party controls Congress. Their embrace of the GOP is a reminder that Democrats can’t rely solely on suburban voters.”

With mask mandate set to expire, why is Wolf appealing court ruling?

The Tribune-Review observes that more than masks are behind Gov. Wolf’s appeal of the recent court ruling striking down the statewide school mask mandate. According to “legal experts,” the appeal is “not just because Wolf’s team believes that masks make it safer for children to be in school, but also because they want to ensure that they get good guidance from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on administrative agencies being able to issue orders such as this.” In other words, can agencies unilaterally make regulations without going through the regulatory process as long as they pretend they’re not regulations. Hmm.

Jury deliberations continue in Johnny Doc case

The jury in the federal bribery trial of Philly union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and city Councilman Bobby Henon finished its second day of deliberations yesterday without reaching a verdict. Deliberations are set to resume this morning at 9:30.

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