Philadelphia just made history as the first big city to enact a soda tax, while Pennsylvania is on the cusp of passing a crucial budget amid fears that pols would repeat last year’s nine-month budget impasse. But will the tax die in court? Will the final weeks of June see a budget or just more handwringing? The only certainty is that we’ve already got some Winners & Losers:
- Tom Wolf: After last year’s disastrous budget impasse, some were ready to write off Wolf as a one-term guv. It’s tough to say how much of that was solely his fault or how much of a hand he had in crafting recent compromises as budget talks wind down But the buck has to stop somewhere, right? The combination of wins like bringing alcohol sales into the 21st century, the prospect of (gasp!) an on-time budget and a temporary feeling of legislative congeniality seems like a stay of execution at the very least.
- Joe Scarnati: After the more right-leaning House crippled a Senate-backed Christmastime budget deal last year, it seemed like the Republican leadership had lost control of one of the legislative wings of the party. But that scotched deal is suspiciously similar to what’s shaken out of this year’s budget talks. Whatever changed over the interceding six months, one thing is clear: the Senate vision of compromise appears to be ascendant.
- Vanessa Lowery Brown & Jordan Harris: So what could go wrong when a local historical association convinced Capitol complex staff to display a vintage flag collection in the statehouse? Turns out, a fair bit – there were two Confederate flags in the collection. Oops. State Reps. Brown and Harris notified the governor’s office, earning the swift removal of the flags – and a fair bit of media attention. It’s enough to make you almost forget about Brown’s impending corruption trial … almost.
- Wine- and beer-loving Pennsylvanians: As we previously mentioned, the revolutionary idea (for the Keystone State) of being able to buy alcohol in retail outlets like supermarkets – like you can in 39 other states – has been greeted spiritedly by virtually everyone in the commonwealth, save Liquor Control Board employees.
- Chaka Fattah: Now that he has amended his resignation from Congress to be effective immediately, all eyes turn to his likely October sentencing date.
- The American Beverage Association: Industry hopes that millions spent on lobbying – including a massive $700,000 last-minute ad blitz – to rebrand Mayor Jim Kenney’s soda tax as a “grocery tax” would rout the levy on sweetened beverages were dashed. Barring the outcome of a likely court challenge, Philadelphia will set an unwelcome (for the ABA) precedent as the first big city to tax pop. Be on the lookout for soda speculators cleaning out the city’s lone Sam’s Club.
- Eric Papenfuse, mayor of Harrisburg must have thought it was a really smart PR move when he shook off questions from pesky Patriot News reporters by publicly blacklisting their whole news organization. Why the heck didn’t any other pol think of that before? Oh right, because it earns the scorn of pretty much every other reporter in the universe and makes a pretty minor story about some properties owned by hizzoner seem like the tip of a very suspicious iceberg.
- Anthony Hamlet: Dude, that time you were on the Indianapolis Colts for a minute? That was rad. But what’s up with the bogus (and partially plagiarized) resume you sent to the Pittsburgh Public School District? These are probably the thoughts going through Pittsburgh residents’ heads as the PPSD prepares to investigate the new school chief’s phony, plagiarized resume.