Tom Wolf the pragmatist: Governor kicks off second term with a budget that forsakes bold policy strokes for doing things better

Charles Thompson | Tuesday, February 5,2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

You know your governor has gone all-in on political pragmatism when one of the talking points in his budget proposal is insisting that children attend first grade.

Look it up. Gov. Tom Wolf called Tuesday for lowering the age of compulsory school attendance in Pennsylvania to six.

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Gov. Wolf renews bid to put Pennsylvania’s minimum wage among highest

Wednesday, January 20, 2019, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf is rolling out a second-term proposal to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage after similar first-term proposals by the Democrat fell flat in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Wolf said Wednesday he wants to raise Pennsylvania’s hourly minimum to $12 this year, making it one of the highest in the nation, with annual 50-cent increases to bring it to $15 an hour in 2025. He says it would boost pay for a million workers and provide savings in programs for the poor.

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Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, at halftime of an 8-year tenure, says he’ll focus on achievable goals

Charles Thompson | Monday, January 14, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

If you are hoping for sweeping policy changes or some kind of political adventure as Thomas Westerman Wolf begins his second term as Pennsylvania’s 47th governor Tuesday, you may be disappointed.

Pennsylvania’s manager governor, by most accounts and his own words, isn’t consumed right now with crafting a legacy for the history books, or positioning himself on the hot list of 2020 Democratic Party VP picks.

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Governor sets goals for Pennsylvania to cut greenhouse gases

Marc Levy | Tuesday, January 8, 2019, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf is stepping up the fight against climate change and setting targets to slash Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades in a heavily populated and fossil fuel-rich state that has long been one of the nation’s biggest polluters.

Wolf, a Democrat, on Tuesday issued an executive order that commits his administration to meeting certain targets, putting the state in a league with what the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions says are 20 other states that already set targets.

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Wanting to get things done, Gov. Tom Wolf prepares for a 2nd term

Monday, December 31, 2018, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf, who introduced himself at his first inauguration as an unconventional governor and then unveiled an ambitious blueprint to transform Pennsylvania’s tax structure, is returning for a second term with big plans, although with perhaps a more sober view of what is possible.

Wolf, a Democrat, faced huge Republican legislative majorities throughout his first term, and will again face substantial Republican majorities as he hopes to nail down second-term achievements, including on stalled first-term priorities.

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Does Pa. really need new voting machines? County commissioners question funding, timing

Jan Murphy | Monday, December 3, 2018, Harrisburg Patriot News

If Gov. Tom Wolf thinks county commissioners’ concerns about his directive to buy new voting machines will go away with last week’s promise to try to get the state to help pay for them, he’s got another thing coming.

Commissioners interviewed late last week offered a litany of other reasons beyond funding – and that’s a major concern –why they think this mandate to replace their machines with ones that create a paper trail by 2020 is unnecessary and being done hastily.

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Gov. Tom Wolf: Rising cost of turnpike tolls ‘driving business away’ from Pa.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The rising cost of tolls on the turnpike is “driving business away” from Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday morning.

“People using the turnpike are paying too much,” Wolf said during an appearance on KDKA Radio . “The turnpike really is driving business away.”

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has raised tolls 11 consecutive years . Motorists will pay about 6 percent more to drive the turnpike next year, whether they pay cash or use the E-ZPass system.

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Will Gov. Tom Wolf and the GOP-controlled General Assembly get along better?

Jan Murphy | Thursday, November 8, 2018, Harrisburg Patriot News

With the election now over, Gov. Tom Wolf can shift his focus to pushing a second-term agenda that heavily builds on accomplishments of his first four years with a new lieutenant governor at his side.

The Democratic incumbent indicated in his brief victory speech on Tuesday night to his supporters with his Cabinet members standing before him and Lt. Gov-elect John Fetterman beside him, that is exactly what he wants to do.

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Pennsylvania puts money in ‘rainy day fund’ for first time in years

Wes Venteicher | Thursday, July 12, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday that Pennsylvania made a $22 million payment into its so-called rainy day fund, bringing the fund’s balance to $22.5 million.

The payment was the first significant deposit into the account since 2009, when the state drained it of $755 million amid the Great Recession.

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Wolf calls on Pennsylvania Legislature to raise minimum wage

Brian C. Rittmeyer | Wednesday, June 13, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is calling on state lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum wage.

In a Wednesday morning tweet on Twitter , Wolf noted that more than half of the states have raise their minimum wage — including all states bordering Pennsylvania.

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Manufacturing initiative open for students

Johann Calhoun | Friday, May 4, 2018, The Philadelphia Tribune

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the opening of a new fellowship program through his Manufacturing PA Initiative designed to partner Pennsylvania’s best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students with local manufacturers to develop new technologies and advance innovation statewide.

“While exploring all the ways in which we could advance technology and innovation in the manufacturing sector, we realized that some of our best resources are the minds and enthusiasm of our students,” Wolf said. “By helping connect these students with manufacturers and giving them a real-world application for their research, we’re giving manufacturing companies greater ability to harness young talent to develop transformative new processes and technology.”

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Wolf eyes voting reform plan

Tuesday, March 27, 2018, Tribune News Report

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor wants legislation to let people register to vote on the day of elections and loosen the state’s strict rules for absentee ballots.

Gov. Tom Wolf said on Monday everyone who gets a license from the state Department of Transportation or signs up for a public service should be automatically registered to vote, unless they specifically opt out.

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U.S. Supreme Court, 3-judge panel dismiss GOP challenges to Pa.’s new congressional district map

Brian Bowling | Monday, March 19, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Pennsylvania’s new congressional map will likely stand in the May primary election and beyond after Republicans on Monday lost two critical court challenges.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito denied a motion by House and Senate leaders to stay a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that replaced the state’s 2011 map with the new one.

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Gov. Wolf proposes ethics reforms for Pennsylvania lawmakers

Kate Giammarise | Monday, March 12, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Under a proposal put forth Monday by Gov. Tom Wolf, public officials would be subject to a gift ban, new campaign finance limits would be enacted, lawmakers would need to provide receipts for reimbursements, and top state officials wouldn’t be paid until a complete budget is passed every year.

Mr. Wolf, a Democrat, unveiled his proposed reforms at a news conference at the Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown, along with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

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Court-imposed redistricting map changes boundaries for millions of Pennsylvanians

Natasha Lindstrom | Monday, February 19, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Millions of Pennsylvanians could find themselves voting in new congressional districts as soon as May under a new map imposed Monday by the state Supreme Court.

Gov. Tom Wolf and fellow Democrats lauded the decision by the state’s high court to throw out the 2011 map drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislature for demonstrating partisan gerrymandering, or drawing district boundaries to favor one party over another.

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Panel discusses how to redraw state’s congressional districts so races are more competitive

Natasha Lindstrom | Thursday, February 1, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

When Gov. Tom Wolf won the Democratic primary in 2014, less than 20 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.

“That’s not a democracy,” Wolf said Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh during a panel discussion on redrawing Pennsylvania’s congressional districts.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” continued Wolf, noting he earned his Ph.D. in political science and studied voting patterns demonstrating decades of declines, particularly in nonpresidential and midyear elections.

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Wolf urges passage of legislation to combat opioid epidemic

Blaine T. Shahan | Tuesday, January 30, 2018, The Philadelphia Tribune

Amid the 90-day Opioid Disaster Declaration, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday urged the General Assembly to consider a set of pending bills aimed at furthering the declaration’s key initiatives and messages.

Several pieces of legislation were passed recently, including a measure by Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-26) to allow the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to regulate recovery houses that receive federal, state or county dollars and serve individuals in recovery from substance abuse. Wolf signed that bill in December.

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State Supreme Court rules Pennsylvania congressional map is illegal

Jonathan Lai | Monday, January 22, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state’s congressional map “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the state constitution and blocked its use from the May 2018 primaries.

A group of Democratic voters had brought the challenge, saying the 18 U.S. House of Representatives districts were drawn as an unconstitutional gerrymander that discriminates against Democrats.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf touts the choices under new long-term care initiative

Gary Rotstein | Thursday, December 7, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gov. Tom Wolf says he believes all Pennsylvanians in their later years should have the ability to continue living at home like his 94-year-old mother, even if they become frail and develop disabilities.

In touting his Community HealthChoices initiative in Lawrenceville Thursday, he mentioned his mother’s options late in life as an example of what the program is intended to provide starting Jan. 1 for those older or disabled adults who rely on government-subsidized health and long-term care services.

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Funding fix for unemployment compensation system heads to Senate

Jan Murphy | Tuesday, December 5, 2017, Harrisburg Patriot News

Legislation to provide a four-year exit ramp leading to an end of state funding to cover the cost of operating the state’s unemployment compensation system won House approval on Tuesday.

By a 193-4 vote, the chamber approved the compromise plan that provides $115.2 million over four years before it cuts off state subsidies that now supplement the federal dollars to operate the system.

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