Visit My New Site

For up-to-date posts from me, check out




Friendly reminder

Just another reminder to RSS subscribers – State House Sound Bites is now hosted on WITF’s website:



Starting today, “State House Sound Bites” will be hosted at WITF’s website. The plan, for now, is to keep this site alive in some capacity. So keep checking back, if the mood strikes you.

Thanks to everyone in the small-but-growing audience for reading. We’ve had our fun here, especially with Joe the PlumberTom Corbett and some others.

So to paraphrase Derek Jeter, “we are relying on you to take the memories from this [website], add them to the new memories that come at the new [website], and continue to pass them on from generation to generation.”

Rendell’s transportation problem

The Allentown Morning Call’s John Micek posted a great analysis  of the politics of transportation funding on Sunday. He writes:

Here’s The Problem Facing Governor Rendell when it comes to finding new state money for roads and bridges.

On the same day that the Democratic governor’s barnstorming bus tour rolled into Ellwood City on the Ohio border Friday, a lawmaker from another part of rural western Pennsylvania was holding a golf outing for supporters who paid as much as $2,000 each for the privilege of supporting his re-election campaign and spending a few hours on the links under a blazing August sun.

In other words, Rendell, a lame-duck who leaves office in January, is looking to his legacy.

But the 253-members of the General Assembly who face voters in November are simply looking for another term.

And that means they’re unlikely to do anything to screw it up — like casting a vote in favor of the tax and vehicle fee hikes that the governor says are necessary to close a $450 million hole this year and to provide a stable funding source for a roughly $1 billion backlog of road and bridge repairs.

“They’re not voting for taxes,” said Terry Madonna, a political science professor and pollster at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. “They’d be loath to vote for taxes in a non-election year.” …

Rendell will be talking transportation at 9 AM on this morning’s WITF Radio Smart Talk.

Sestak = Michael Scott?

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Kevin Ferris makes a unique argument in today’s column. He says since winning the May primary, Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak has adopted the persona of lovable-but-bumbling Dunder-Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott.

He writes:

Start with the attacks on Toomey as a big spender during his time in Congress, from 1999 to 2005. A flier handed out by Sestak’s folks at a recent Toomey news conference pointed out that there was a $125 billion surplus when Toomey first took office, but a $412 billion deficit when he left. Devastating, right?

Republicans did spend irresponsibly during the Bush years when they controlled both Congress and the White House. But while Toomey is an unabashed promoter of tax cuts in order to spur economic growth, he also took a hard line on spending. For example, he was one of only 25 Republicans who voted against the $400 million Medicare prescription-drug program in 2003.

But let’s use Sestak’s reasoning and look at his side’s spending record. In 2007, when Sestak went to Washington with the new Democratic majorities in Congress, the deficit was $160 billion. This year’s projected deficit is $1.5 trillion, almost 10 times what it was when Sestak took office. So you’d think Sestak would keep quiet on spending, or at least have a good explanation for his votes in favor of trillions in bailouts, stimulus, and record budgets and deficits. Apparently not.

Sestak will, in fact, be in Scott’s hometown of Scranton on Tuesday. But he’s not there to shop for office paper. Instead, he’s campaigning with former President Bill Clinton.

Radio Times

A programming note:

I’ll be on WHYY’s Radio Times this morning from 10 to 11. Podcasting pal Alex Roarty of PoliticsPA and PLS and I will be talking elections – the Senate and gubernatorial campaign, as well as House races. You can listen online, or tune to 90.9 FM, if you’re in the area.

No blog updates this afternoon, as I brave the Turnpike on my way back from Philadelphia, and then work on some long-term projects.

GOP lawmaker hoping for a health care vote

A Tioga County Republican is hoping a Missouri referendum on the new federal health care law delivers some momentum for his effort to block the legislation in Pennsylvania. 7 in 10 Missouri voters recently opted to block the law’s health insurance mandate from taking effect in their state. Several other states, including Virginia, have also passed laws essentially nullifying a key portion of the measure.

Republican Representative Matthew Baker has authored a similar bill in Pennsylvania. He insists the federal government doesn’t have the right to make people buy a product.

Baker concedes the bill isn’t going to be brought up for a vote with Democrats controlling the House. Republican caucus spokesman Steve Miskin wouldn’t promise a floor vote if the GOP wins the majority in November, but says most House Republicans support the measure, and the bill would “definitely” be at least considered.

Pennsylvania’s Republican Attorney General, Tom Corbett, has signed onto a federal lawsuit challenging the health care bill’s constitutionality.