PA Reactions to Pope’s Impending Resignation

Elected at the age of 78 in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI was the oldest pope to be chosen in nearly 300-years.  Today’s announcement from the 85-year-old pontiff will make him the first pope to resign in nearly 600-years. 

Harrisburg Bishop Joseph McFadden

Harrisburg Bishop Joseph McFadden

Diocese of Harrisburg Bishop Joseph McFadden says the news brings a mix of sadness and gratitude.  Like most people, Bishop McFadden was initially surprised when he heard the news this morning, but notes that it’s not out of character for Pope Benedict.  “His first and foremost love is for Jesus Christ and his Church.  So, if he feels that he’s not able to carry out the responsibilities as effectively as he feels that he would need to do, I think he feels that – out of love for the Church – that he should step down,”  Bishop McFadden tells reporters. 

Pope Benedict made the announcement at a meeting of Vatican Cardinals, telling them he lacked the strength to fulfill his duties. 

Governor Tom Corbett – a Roman Catholic himself – was shocked to hear the news this morning.  “I was listening on the radio coming over here, and some people are already pushing the Cardinal of New York [to be Pope Benedict’s successor],” Corbett said on Radio PA’s Ask the Governor program.  “Whether a North American Cardinal can ever become pope, who knows.” 

A conclave to elect a new pope will likely be called for next month.   

The announcement from the Vatican comes as the Lenten season is about to begin, and Bishop McFadden suggests the timing is good.  “Lent calls us to a period of renewal… perhaps in many ways it is a blessing that during the Season of Lent the whole Church now can be focused on renewal.”

New Study Looks at Election Performance State By State

How long do voters have to wait, can they register on line and how often are registrations rejected?  Those are some of the issues reviewed in a new Election Performance Index.

The first ever study of election performance by the Pew Charitable Trusts find Pennsylvania in the middle of the pack for both 2008 and 2010. Numbers were not available yet for 2012.

David Becker, director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States, says Pennsylvania needs to work to reduce its registration rejection rate, but it is doing well in its rate of accepting military, overseas and absentee ballots.

Becker says they hope decision makers and the public take a closer look at the index.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 02.07.13

This week, on a special edition of Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman & Matt Paul break down key portions of Governor Tom Corbett’s budget address, including plans for education, pension reform and road & bridge funding.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


New England’s Nightmare Blizzard Could Also Cause Problems for PA

The impact this major winter storm forming over New England has on you will depend on where you live in Pennsylvania. Some areas of the Poconos could see a foot and a half of new snow, with up to 8 inches projected across the northern tier and a possible half-foot in the Philadelphia region. It could be more of a wintry mix for south-central and southwestern PA, with 1-to-3 inches in the Harrisburg area and minor accumulations, if any, in and around Pittsburgh.

This storm is the result of the convergence of two systems over New England, where forecasters say 2-to-3 feet of snow is possible in some areas. That will mean the chance for major utility outages as heavy snow brings down tree limbs and power lines. Utility trucks were already gathering in staging areas near Harrisburg this morning, preparing to be dispatched to areas of need later today.

High winds are also expected in New England, with potential hurricane-strength gusts.

PA School Districts

Corbett Budget Gets Mixed Reviews from Advocates for Children

While the state’s largest teacher’s union says the Governor’s budget fails students again,  another group sees signs of encouragement.  Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children says the budget begins to restore some cuts to core programs.

CEO Joan Benso says they were pleased to see increases for Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance.  She says it’s a turn in direction, indicating the Governor wants to make some important investments in children.

Benso is also encouraged by additional funding to do outreach for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  She says the state has seen its child population in Medicaid decline.

The budget also calls for 90 million more for basic education, but Wythe Keever, a spokesman for  the Pennsylvania State Education Association, says that doesn’t begin to fill the hole created since Governor Corbett took office.

Keever is not impressed with the administration’s argument that it inherited an education budget backfilled with one-time federal stimulus money.  He says budgeting is about choices and the Governor chose not to replace the stimulus funding.

Keever adds that the governor’s pension reform proposal asks teachers and other public employees to shoulder the burden, when they didn’t create the problem with the pension system.  He says new employees would be paying more for a lesser benefit.

The Association is not a fan of the governor’s proposal to privatize state liquor sales and create a four-year education grant program with the proceeds. Keever says the governor is proposing to spend money he doesn’t have yet.  He says privatization is far from a done deal; it’s been proposed many times over the last two decades in the General Assembly.

A privatization effort failed to get enough support for a vote in the last session and some lawmakers favor modernization instead.