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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heads Up: Morning headlines for Jan. 31

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to privatize the state liquor store system has met with at least qualified support from both the left and the right. But at least one part of Corbett's strategy -- to direct revenues from privatization to the schools -- may be backfiring. Even some Republicans are objecting to "Washington-style politics," faulting Corbett for trying to up the ante by joining schools to a separate debate. And as we've been noting for days now with respect to Corbett's push for a pension overhaul, this isn't the first time that Corbett risks being accused of holding schools hostage. I just wish Corbett had been so concerned about school funding when he was negotiated "severance tax" terms with the natural-gas industry.

Speaking of which ... guess what industry conference Corbett found some time to drop in on yesterday?

In today's installment of "Brimmeier Watch" ... more on the history of Joseph Brimmeier, the guy County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is said to want to put in charge of the Port Authority. By this point, the Trib's narrative of Brimmeier's stint at the Pennsylvania Turnpike may not surprise you. But of interest is Tom Corbett's assertion that his administration is "closely watching the events unfold at Port Authority." Considering how much the transit agency relies on state funding, that sounds ominous. The Post-Gazette cautions Fitzgerald to back slowly away from the appointment in an editorial today. And from what I'm hearing, plenty of folks in Fitzgerald's inner circle are disheartened by the possibility. Makes you wonder what the upside of a Brimmeier appointment would be.

No surprise here: Pennsylvania's tax structure is among the most regressive in the country, with the poorest paying 12 cents out of every dollar they earn, while the wealthy pay less than a nickle.

Senator Bob Casey is renewing a push to end the gender pay gap. Prompting Casey's announcement is a new report showing that in Pennsylvania, men earn 18 percent more than women for doing the same work. (Among older workers, the gap is even larger.) Casey favors harsher penalties for employers who discriminate, but naturally, Republicans are this as a "war on free enterprise."

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