Newly-inaugurated Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a liberal Democrat, is off to a poor start with three noteworthy actions in particular.
First, Wolf fired the Open Records Office head who had been appointed by outgoing Governor Tom Corbett. The Corbett appointee is a respected expert on the matter, having worked as a Senate staffer on revisions that strengthened the law that guarantees public access to public records. The legislature is suing Wolf, arguing he lacks the authority to fire the Open Records head.
Wolf’s second mistake was to ban horizontal drilling for natural gas thousands of feet below public parks from adjacent lands that would not have disturbed the surface of the parks or anywhere near it. His decision was not based upon sound science or out of concern for the environment, but upon an unreasonable political and ideological motivation, including pleasing one of his major coalitions. Wolf’s prohibition on environmentally safe horizontal drilling from adjacent lands will cost the Commonwealth millions of dollars of revenue that was expected from the leases to help offset the state’s budget shortfall.
The third mistake by Wolf was to raise the salaries of his cabinet members by 9% each, as well as three other senior administration officials, despite the Commonwealth’s $2+ billion projected deficit. The raises also mean the officials receive a substantially higher base for their pensions, which means
taxpayers will be on the hook for decades for Wolf’s decision.