HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Tuesday night saw some big wins for Democrats around the country–but Pennsylvania’s elections were mostly lower-profile, and ended with more of a political mixed bag. Onlookers in the commonwealth say they’re already ahead looking to 2018. The commonwealth’s top-of-the-ticket race was for a term on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, between Republican interim justice Sallie Mundy and Democratic family court judge Dwayne Woodruff, who’s also a former Pittsburgh Steeler. Mundy, who outstripped Woodruff in fundraising and endorsements, won the seat. Alex Reber, a Dauphin County Democratic official who spent election night at a Harrisburg watch party, said that doesn’t necessarily signify anything about Democrats’ prospects in future state elections. “Sallie Mundie was endorsed by a lot of unions, so when they’re backing the Republican–I don’t think that’s a good test,” he said.
Director Tommy Iafrate and the Cowardly Lion, Margaret Leisenheimer, join us to talk about this theatrical adaptation, the costumes, the quirky sets, and re-instating a song that was famously cut from the film.
“Four more years!” chanted the crowd gathered for Republican Mayor Rich David’s watch party at Terra Cotta Catering in downtown Binghamton. When the chairman of the Broome County Republicans announced the win, David took the stage to the song “Roar” by Katy Perry. David beat Democratic challenger Tarik Abdelazim. In Otsego County, Democrat Gary Herzig easily hung on to his seat. His challenger was a Republican write-in candidate.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) – Pennsylvania is starting the lengthy process of making far-reaching expansions to its gambling industry. Among the law’s major provisions are legalization of video gaming terminals–or VGTs–in truck stops, and licensing of 10 new miniature casinos. Counties can opt not to allow VGTs, and municipalities can do the same for mini-casinos. State Gaming Control Board Spokesman Doug Harbach said those moves have to happen by December 29 and 31, respectively, but they haven’t heard from anyone yet. “These government bodies will be working with their solicitors to look at the language and then making some decisions in the near future,” he predicted. The number of counties and municipalities that opt out of the expansion will help determine how much revenue the state gets.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — The Republican sponsored tax code overhaul in Congress faces an uncertain path, and will likely see some major changes as it makes its way toward legalization. But nevertheless, small business owners and advocates in Pennsylvania are trying to figure out how its current iteration would affect them and some have mixed feelings. The more than 400-page bill of sweeping tax code changes has been touted as “pro-business” by its House GOP authors and the Trump administration. And it would indeed slash the corporate tax rate by 15 percent. Smaller business owners would also get a lower rate on some of their income, but there are limits to who would benefit. That’s one reason the National Federation of Independent Business won’t back the plan.
Governor Cuomo and New York Senator Chuck Schumer are once again warning that New Yorkers will be hurt if the Republican tax overhaul plan in Congress is approved. Schumer, who is Senate Democratic Leader, says while the tax plan has changed from the original version, 71% of the deductions that now benefit state residents would be eliminated. The plan would end deductions for state and local income taxes, and cap the property tax deduction at $10,000 a year. “The plan will increase taxes on New Yorkers by $16 billion,” Schumer said in a joint conference call with Cuomo. Cuomo says the plan would undo seven years of work that his administration has done to keep taxes and spending steady in New York. “President Trump said this is a Christmas gift,” said Cuomo. “ If it’s a Christmas gift, New York gets a lump of coal from Santa Trump on this one.” Cuomo and Schumer are calling on four New York Republican House members- Claudia Tenney, John Faso, John Katko and Elise Stefanik, who have all expressed reservations about the provision, to vote against the tax plan.
The tax plan unveiled by Republicans in the House of Representatives will disproportionately raise taxes on for those living in Northeast states like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Many lawmakers from the region, including Republicans, are against the plan. For high tax states with high housing costs, the GOP plan is sobering. It would eliminate deductions for state and local income taxes while also capping property deductions. For example, New Yorkers making $75,000-$100,000 per year will have to pay taxes on $10,000 more in income.
Advocates for Pennsylvania landowners are challenging a statement made recently by one of Governor Tom Wolf’s top aides, after he said complaints over unfair gas royalty payments have subsided. In some cases, Pennsylvania mineral owners have received royalty checks showing negative balances, saying they owe money to drillers. At an energy conference in Hershey last week, Wolf’s deputy policy director Sam Robinson said the administration hasn’t heard as much about it lately. “I think there was a crescendo of that kind of claim in 2015 to 2016,” he told the audience. “There’s been real movement in a positive direction on that issue.” You can read the full story here.