Heart Attack Blamed for Bishop’s Death

The Diocese of Harrisburg confirms that it was a heart attack that took the life of Harrisburg Bishop Joseph McFadden last week. McFadden was attending a conference of the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia when he died suddenly Thursday morning at the age of 65.

Additional details about the final moments of Bishop mcFadden’s life were detailed over the weekend on the CatholicPhilly.com website. The article reveals that the Bishop, aware that his life was fading, asked for a prayer of absolution from Monsignor Joseph Garvin as they were speeding to the hospital. McFadden slumped over moments later and roadside efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Funeral services are planned over the next several days in Harrisburg. Two viewings and a mass are planned both Monday and Tuesday at St. Patrick Cathedral. On Wednesday, there will be a final viewing at the Holy Name of Jesus Church, followed by the closing of the casket at 10:00am and a funeral mass at 10:30am. Burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery on Wednesday.

All services are open to the public.

Slots Revenue Slips Again in April in Pennsylvania

April was another “off” month for slot machine revenue in Pennsylvania.  Revenue from slots play at the state’s 11 casinos was down 4% compared to the same month last year.

The only bright spot in the April report was the Valley Forge Resort Casino, which posted a nearly 34% increase. Its first full month of operation was in April of 2012.

Doug Harbach of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says the state is seeing the impact of additional competition from Ohio and Maryland.  But he adds that Pennsylvania still has room for expansion.  Lady Luck at Nemacolin, a resort casino, is scheduled to open this summer

Pennsylvania is second only to Nevada in total gaming revenues.

Harbach says Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie has been feeling the pressure from Cleveland, Ohio and posted another double-digit decline.   Slots play at Presque Isle was off by nearly 16% compared to April of last year.

Harbach adds that despite the decline in revenue,  the board’s primary responsibility is to regulate the industry.

Revenue Report Predicts Big Budget Hole

The $230-million dollar year-end surplus that was projected when Governor Tom Corbett delivered his February budget address isn’t likely to materialize in the final two months of the fiscal year.  “At the end of the day we think we’ll be back at the original estimate from last June,” explains Independent Fiscal Office director Matthew Knittel.

Pennsylvania’s General Fund collections may be running $67-million above last June’s estimates, as of today, but they’re actually falling short of February’s revised expectations.   

Compounding the problem, the IFO is now projecting 1.2% growth in state revenues in the new fiscal year.  It may only be a slight downgrade from the 1.3% projection used to crunch the numbers in the governor’s budget plan, but it adds up to another $278-million dollar shortfall. 

Combined, it’s a more than $500-million dollar hole in next year’s state budget.  What’s changed since February?  Knittel says sales and use tax collections are lagging. 

“What we think is happening is that consumers are taking a hit,” Knittel explains.  “We had some federal tax increases to start the year – the payroll tax cut expiration, some tax increases on high income individuals, and we think that’s restraining spending currently.  But when we move into fall and winter, the consumers will have absorbed that hit and we think the spending will return.”

Meanwhile, the state budget season just got more difficult as state policymakers will have to find the cuts and/or revenues to fill a potential half-billion dollar hole.

Radio PA Roundtable 05.03.13

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul review a week that put Radio PA’s “Ask the Governor” program in the national spotlight following comments by Governor Tom Corbett regarding the unemployed and drug testing. As always, video clips from that show are also available here on PAMatters.com.

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:


Bishop Joseph McFadden of Harrisburg Dies at 65

A stunning announcement from the Harrisburg Diocese, which is reporting the death of Bishop Joseph McFadden. A release sent out this morning says McFadden died unexpectedly while attending a meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“While staying at a rectory he awoke feeling ill and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at approximately 7:40 a.m. A cause of death has not yet been announced,” the release stated.

McFadden was the tenth Bishop of Harrisburg, appointed by then-Pope Benedict XVI in June of 2010. He was installed in August of that same year.  Governance of the Diocese now passes to a “College of Consultors” which has eight days to elect a new administrator who will run the diocese until a new Bishop is appointed by Pope Francis.

A Philadelphia native, McFadden graduated from Saint Joseph university and went into teaching. He was named the first President of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield in 1993. His rise continued as Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia and finally Bishop of Harrisburg.


Behind the Numbers of the Jobs Debate

Statistics ultimately led to Governor Tom Corbett’s now-infamous drug test comments.  The launching point for the entire conversation on this month’s edition of “Ask the Governor” was a statistic ranking Pennsylvania 49th among states when it comes to job growth.

Democrats and other Corbett critics are harping on the figure, but the governor says there’s more to the story.  “There’s an old saying that Mark Twain said.  There’s three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics,” Corbett quipped early on in the “Ask the Governor” conversation. “It’s a matter of when you look at the number, at what point in time you look at the number.” 

But what about that job growth ranking as it stands today?  Corbett’s Labor & Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway tells Radio PA that it’s being taken out of context:HEARTHWAY

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hanger says it’s a spin game the Corbett administration can’t win.  “I don’t think if you talk with most Pennsylvanians that they have found… that their job prospects have improved over the past year.” 

The longer Governor Corbett has been in office, Hanger says, the worse the jobs crisis gets.  “His best year was his first year, his worst year has been the last 12-months,” he says.  “We’ve literally, essentially, had no job growth with this governor in the last 12-months.  Zero.”    

The March jobs report from the Department of Labor & Industry includes two data sets.  The numbers used to calculate the 7.9% unemployment rate in March indicate a 0.5% year-to-year increase in employment.  The seasonally adjusted non-farm job numbers indicate regression to the tune of -0.1% from March 2012 – March 2013.

Christman Blog: The Overlooked Answer

Yes, that was “Ask the Governor” you saw on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews last night, and the Huffington Post, and the Philly and Pittsburgh news sites.

The video from Monday’s taping of Ask the Governor is now viral.

While critics of Governor Tom Corbett bask in the glow of his comments about job applicants and drug use, it should be noted that when asked about Pennsylvania’s slide from 7th to 49th in job growth since 2011, there was a better, more cogent answer proffered.

Job growth measures the rate of increases in hiring, a figure that can fluctuate wildly depending on how a state fared through the “Great Recession.” Now, make no mistake, the economic woes of the past 5 years have affected us all, and there are many Pennsylvanians still feeling the serious burn of the near-depression. That being said, Pennsylvania did fare better than many other states and that was the main focus of Governor Corbett’s answer Monday:

“The statistic of 49 percent (sic) is really an indication of year-to-year, the rate of growth, how fast you are growing and we have been doing better in Pennsylvania than other states , but other states were so far down that they grew – percentage wise – in their area, fast. It looks like it’s fast…they had more ground to make up than we did,” Corbett said.

Of course, the reference to drug-abusing job applicants that followed this answer is now the headline, and likely will be for several more days, but it’s important that the governor’s broader answer not get lost in the revelry of backlash since Monday. As always, the real story is bigger than the headline.

(Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania and co-hosts “Ask the Governor”)