State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Links: Convention balloons, jobs numbers to ponder, protesters arrested in Hbg

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 30, 2012 1:03 PM

There’s been much talk and tweet about the speeches delivered thus far at the Republican National Convention.  Over at Early Returns, James M. Perry offers what you really need to understand the spectacle of the party conventions: the history of the balloon drop.  A notable malfunction came with the 2004 Democratic convention, writes Perry:

The director producer for the convention was Don Mischer, an award-winning professional at this sort of thing. Mr. Mischer watched with riveting interest as the balloons began to drop, and didn't like what he was seeing. He began shouting through his mike at the technicians up in the rafters who were in charge, little knowing that he was going live on CNN. "Balloons, balloons!" he barked. "There's not enough coming down. Why the hell is nothing falling?" And then he used the F-word. "What the (F-word) are you guys doing up there? We want more balloons coming down. More balloons! More balloons!"

"We may have heard a profanity," Wolf Blitzer said.

In light of a Keystone Research Center report that Pennsylvania’s job growth rating has fallen under Gov. Corbett, Capitolwire does some deeper analysis – finding that employment grew 1.29 percent from 2010 to 2011, with only two of the state’s neighbors performing marginally better in that same year

Since Dec. 2011, PA has fared worse on the employment front, with the state, as of June 2012, actually 500 jobs below where it was in Dec. 2011. That has dropped the state to 45th out of 50 states when considering the percentage change in state employment totals.

However, it is important to note that only 15 states since Dec. 2011 have posted job increases greater than 1 percent, when compared to their Dec. 2011 totals, and only four - North Dakota (3.15 percent), Montana (1.72 percent), Arizona (1.62 percent) and Ohio (1.61 percent) - have surpassed increases of 1.5 percent. So things appear to be tough all over.  

And beyond comparisons with other states, it is important to note that prior to the recession, Pennsylvania wasn't adding tons of jobs either.

The free lunch ends on Saturday: that’s when Amazon will begin collecting Pennsylvania sales tax on orders shipped to the state starting this Saturday, the AP reports:

The Seattle-based company — the No. 1 online retailer — has previously refused to include Pennsylvania's 6 percent levy on its orders. But a spokesman said Wednesday that it reversed itself because a state directive requiring it takes effect Saturday. 

Police came out to end a protest outside the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg, as people blocked the street to lodge their opposition to the elimination of a cash assistance program within the Department of Public Welfare.  From the Patriot-News:

Four of the demonstrators were arrested for disorderly conduct when they sprawled across Second Street in front of the governor's residence. Traffic came to a stop for several minutes as Capitol Police, like boxing referees hovering over fallen fighters, gave them a count to get back on their feet.

The cash assistance program, which provided benefits of up to $200 per month to some 60,000 down-on-their-luck individuals statewide, was ended this summer as part of cost-cutting moves proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett.

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