News & Brews February 13, 2024

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Today is deadline to get on primary ballot

Democrat and Republican candidates have until 5pm today to submit voter signatures on nominating petitions to get on the April 23 primary ballot. The AP gives a quick look at who has filed to run so far for president, U.S. Senate, Congress, attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer. The story notes, “The state allows one week to file court challenges to a candidate’s paperwork, and courts have one more week after that — until Feb. 27 — to render a decision” Stay tuned for more updates.

Johnny Doc’s nephew wants to go to Harrisburg 

And speaking of nominating petitions, the nephew of former Philly labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and son of Pa. Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty is collecting signatures in hopes of challenging Democrat state Rep. Kevin Boyle in the primary election. Boyle is under investigation for a drunken outburst at a bar last Thursday, where he allegedly threatened to “hit female employees.” Sean Dougherty reportedly began gathering signatures on Saturday. The Inquirer reports, “Two Republicans — Aizaz Gill and Patrick Gushue — are vying for the Republican nomination, in what GOP members consider one of Philadelphia’s few attainable House seats.”

Shapiro: Gift bans for thee but not for me?

Spotlight PA reports that Gov. Josh Shapiro “accepted $1,650 worth of ‘event tickets and catering’ from a powerful Harrisburg lobbyist last year, a perk his campaign insists was a political contribution.” Meanwhile, “In his official capacity as Pennsylvania’s governor, Shapiro has banned all executive branch employees from receiving similar gifts from people who are trying to influence state government decisions.” The story notes, “The tickets were paid for by Michael Brunelle, a top staffer to former Gov. Tom Wolf who is now a lobbyist with clients including health care giants and energy and utility companies…. Brunelle did not respond to a request for comment.” Meanwhile, Shapiro’s spokesperson defended the gifts as a campaign contribution.

Did taxpayers pay for Shapiro’s vacation flight to Hilton Head?

Speaking of perks, yours truly has an op-ed in Broad + Liberty looking at a vacation trip Gov. Shapiro took to Hilton Head, South Carolina last August. Where is the line between personal and business travel when you’re the governor? And did taxpayers foot any of the bill to fly Shapiro to his vacation destination?

Op-Ed: ‘If Shapiro wants to compete with Ohio, he needs to imitate Ohio’

It’s been said that if you want to be successful, you need to do what successful people do. In his budget address, Gov. Shapiro bemoaned the fact that Pa. is losing to neighboring Ohio. Well, Commonwealth Foundation Director of Policy Analysis Elizabeth Stelle points out the logical path forward: If you want to compete with Ohio, start imitating Ohio. For example, Ohio is “engaged in a multiyear project to reduce state regulations by 30 percent.” Ohio has also “eliminated the annual minimum and raises the exclusion threshold at $3 million on its Commercial Activity Tax, offering some welcome tax relief to small business.” What’s more, “Ohio passed universal school choice last year.” Pa. can, indeed, compete with Ohio, but only if we start doing the things that have made Ohio so attractive.

Op-Ed: On surpluses, rainy days, and Shapiro’s bad budget

Pa. House Republican Appropriations Committee Chair Seth Grove (York County) explains the difference between surpluses and Rainy Day funds and shows how Gov. Shapiro’s budget proposal “treats these funds the same way for a political talking point.” Grove reminds us that “[t]he three major credit rating agencies warned Pennsylvania policymakers that spending our General Fund surplus and Rainy Day Funds on recurring costs will result in a credit downgrade.” Yet, this is exactly what Shapiro’s budget would do. A better way would be zero-based budgeting, which Shapiro embraced once upon a time as a county commissioner.

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