by Chris Potter
Story of the day: In a speech to the state press association yesterday, Gov. Corbett lets you know what you've got coming. Corbett is renewing his pledge to privatize state-run liquor stores, and to privatize the state lottery too. Like a lot of other Republican governors, he's digging in his heels on expanding Medicaid. But much of the media attention is focusing on Corbett's pledge to come up with some $2.5 billion needed for statewide transportation funding. Corbett was, however, short on specifics.
Oh, and in case you were worried about how our hard-working friends in Harrisburg were faring during these tough economic times ... state legislators and other officials will be receiving an automatic 2.2 percent pay raise this year. Legislators will now earn $83,802 a year. That doesn't take into account any expense reimbursements or the greatest perk of all: the gratitude of their constituents.
Planned Parenthood's Liberty Avenue clinic is temporarily suspending surgical abortions at its Downtown location. (Drug-induced abortions will still be carried out as normal.) The hiatus, which should be over in December, is needed so the clinic can carry out renovations necessary to comply with a completely bogus state law designed to harass clinics with spurious regulations. Naturally, anti-choicers are thrilled!
Environmentalists and advocates for energy independence are calling on Congress to renew a tax credit for wind energy. The credits have helped launch an industry that, by some counts, has created more than 4,000 jobs state wide while also providing a source of green energy. Lets see whether anyone in Washington is paying attention to the fact that -- as this week of 50-plus-degree temperatures reminds us -- this year is shaping up to be the hottest ever recorded.
If there's one thing TV-news investigators like more than government money misspent ... it's government money that hasn't been spent at all. WPXI's Rick Earle is on the case, digging up "stimulus funds" that haven't been spent and so on. He quotes an official with the Commonwealth Foundation, who decries government inefficiency. Which, though Earle doesn't tell us so, is what the Commonwealth Foundation gets paid to do.
Finally, a belated plug: If you missed Ken Burns' latest documentary, The Dust Bowl on WQED-TV Sunday and Monday nights, you missed a good one. Officials with the Commonwealth Foundation -- and really, anyone who disputes the value of government -- ought to buy the DVD and see how government didn't just save whole swaths of the country from starving to death, but encouraged a more sustainable approach to agriculture that prevented the desertification of an entire region. Everything that is best and worst about America -- both its resilience and its heedless greed -- are on display here. Well worth your time.