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Editorials from around Pennsylvania

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 1, 2015 at 8:43 am •  Published: July 1, 2015
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Editorials from around Pennsylvania:

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OPRAH NOT AN ACE FOR TRUMP, June 26

Some readers might regard it as foolish to editorialize on the long-shot presidential campaign of real estate mogul Donald Trump.

They might believe that with so many Republican candidates vying for the party's 2016 nomination — with probably more to come — there are better candidates upon whom editorials should focus.

But Trump has made a major blunder, and there should be no delay in calling it what it is.

A man of Trump's intelligence and abilities should not have allowed himself to fall prey to a tactic not only weak, but potentially detrimental, not only for his campaign but for the country.

That's not to belittle the person at the center of Trump's error, because her personal and professional accomplishments have been magnanimous in scope.

But should Oprah Winfrey, the wonderful person that she is, be on a presidential ticket and potentially a heartbeat away from the presidency, in a world so torn with unrest, strife and violence? The answer is no.

By announcing that Winfrey might be his vice-presidential choice, Trump made a mockery of the seriousness of the presidential election process, much like U.S. Sen. John McCain unintentionally did in 2008 when he selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

At first Palin, to many Americans, seemed like a worthy choice, although, up to that time she was unknown to much of this country's citizenry.

However, it didn't take long for the country to recognize that Palin had serious flaws in her knowledge of foreign issues, even some on the domestic front.

Winfrey has accomplished much as an actress, producer, philanthropist and media proprietor - as well as in her role as a talk show host. But despite the knowledge she has gained from those roles, which have allowed her to see many facets of life in this and other countries, could she stand up to the pressures of being the second in command of this nation's well-being?

This isn't to suggest that Winfrey wouldn't be capable of rising up to the task, but that process wouldn't be easy without firsthand knowledge from previous government service.

It's one thing to operate with a script; it's another to respond to unforeseen events with many serious implications.

"I think Oprah would be great; I'd love to have Oprah," Trump told ABC News in his first interview after his presidential announcement.

He also said, "I think we'd win easily."

He was fooling himself in suggesting that.

Winfrey's life in the entertainment industry should not by itself disqualify her, but she doesn't have the government-service background to immediately catapult her to such a high position.

Ronald Reagan remains a beloved president in many Americans' eyes, but he was elected because of the government and political experience he gained as California's governor, not because of his earlier Hollywood acting career.

If Trump truly envisions himself as a serious candidate, he must think before he speaks.

The fact that he didn't this time burdened his campaign from the get-go.

The office of vice president is serious business, not just another rung of celebrity status.

— The Altoona Mirror

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FOR OUR LAWMAKERS: NO BUDGET, NO PAY, July 1

As you read this, Pennsylvania's budget deadline once again will have come and gone, leaving lawmakers trying to explain how, in failing to agree on a spending plan, they bungled one of their core responsibilities.

Fortunately, this latest budget impasse — late budgets are hardly unique in the commonwealth — will have little if any immediate impact. On Monday, Gov. Wolf sent letters to state employees and contractors filling them in on what would happen if today came without a budget. Basically, the letter indicated it would be business as usual, at least for the short term. The same goes for government services. If the Republican-dominated Legislature and the Democratic governor can settle their differences quickly, then missing the deadline will be soon forgotten.

If, however, the two sides remain far apart for any length of time, there seems to be a great deal of uncertainty exactly what the effect will be and on whom. Dan Egan, a Wolf spokesman, has said "there are no plans to furlough employees or have employees stop coming to work ... no talk by this administration of a government shutdown or anything of that nature."

The words are reassuring. Eventually, however, government services and facilities such as parks would have to shut down as their money runs out. In 2009, state employees endured "payless paydays" during a 101-day impasse, forcing some 16,000 workers to take out loans. The state Supreme Court later declared "payless paydays" unlawful.

But even if state employees aren't hurt, contractors, nonprofit organizations and local governments that rely on money from Harrisburg may be less fortunate. Perhaps as early as mid- or late July, funding for them could be cut off.

In his letter, Wolf wrote: "We understand the possible hardship you may experience in balancing your own budget, and we will do everything in our power to ease that burden."

The best way to "ease that burden," of course, is to prevent the burden in the first place. And the way to do that is to threaten to spread the hardship among those responsible for creating it.

Here's our solution: Beginning now and forevermore, whenever a state budget is late for any reason, everyone who has a hand in the budget-making process in both the legislative and executive branches should be docked their pay until an agreement is reached. The money would be forfeited, not restored retroactively. If "no budget, no paycheck" were the law, budget impasses would immediately become a thing of the past.

Our elected officials are never held to account when they casually dismiss the June 30 budget deadline. And we really question their concern for the people who suffer when it happens. It should never happen. This Legislature accomplishes precious little for what we pay it. The least the members and the governor can do — the bare minimum — is cooperate long enough to pass a budget on time.

— The (Doylestown) Intelligencer

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APPLE MUSIC & TAYLOR SWIFT: A GOOD TIMELY LESSON, June 29

However dazzling it might be, technology doesn't relieve companies of their fundamental moral and legal obligations to compensate people for their work. Ask tech giant Apple, which just received a much-needed reminder about that from music superstar Taylor Swift.

As The Associated Press reported, Apple intended to not compensate artists for streaming their music during 90-day free trials of its upcoming Apple Music service; it would pay musicians only after listeners begin $10 monthly subscriptions.

But, in an open letter, Ms. Swift objected, declaring she would withhold her smash "1989" album from Apple Music over the issue. Apple, recognizing a burgeoning PR disaster as it prepares to compete with the likes of Spotify, quickly reversed course. Thursday last, Swift reversed course, too; "1989" will be a part of the Apple Music mix.

Swift's popularity gave her the clout to enforce the fair-play principle of compensation for work done. Lacking "1989" would have put Apple Music at a disadvantage to competing streaming services in attracting listeners. Thus, the company's reversal made business sense. And many artists who dream of Swift-like success, not just superstars like her, will benefit.

As we marvel at the latest technology, it's all too easy to forget that someone had to toil to produce the content it conveys — someone who deserves to be paid for that work. Hopefully, Apple and other tech giants won't forget that again, thanks to Taylor Swift.

— The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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LEGISLATORS DON'T KNOW WHEN TO HOLD, June 30

Gambling revenue has declined almost everywhere in the East for the obvious reason that the enterprise has hit its saturation point.

Even though gambling is a major industry, generating more than $3 billion a year in Pennsylvania alone, there are only so many gamblers and they only have so much money. Yet the response of lawmakers is to give those same gamblers more options to spend the same amount of money, rather than recognizing that the saturation point is not a bluff.

In New Jersey, legislators have responded to the crashes of five big Atlantic City casinos by authorizing online gambling, challenging a federal law that precludes the expansion of sports gambling and exploring the creation of casinos in Northern New Jersey.

Across the Delaware in Pennsylvania, where new casinos created the competition that crushed the Atlantic City casinos, gambling revenue declined by just under 1.5 percent in 2014, following a 1.4 percent drop in 2013. Revenue from table games actually increased over those two years but decreases in slots revenue — about 70 percent of casinos' take — more than negated those increases.

State legislators have reacted with a bill to put slot machines in off-track betting parlors, is if the issue was an inadequate number of machines in the casinos.

Now some legislative croupiers want to introduce Internet gambling. Sen. Kim Ward, a Westmoreland County Republican, has proposed that Internet gambling be allowed for players who register through 10 of the state's 12 casinos — an important measure to not create new competition for those enterprises, which are de facto partners with the state government. Each casino would pay the state a $10 million permit fee, renewable for $1 million every five years. All told, if all of the eligible casinos went all in on Internet gambling and OTB slots, the state would realize up-front fees of $260 million and 54 percent of annual online gambling revenue. That would produce about $150 million a year, although it's unknown how it would affect regular casino and the state's take.

Some lawmakers appear ready to proceed, even though Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada have reported lower revenue from Internet gambling than they had projected.

If the Legislature approves Internet gambling it will be available quickly because all of the infrastructure is in place.

Lawmakers are motivated by the impending $1.3 billion state deficit, and by the fact that it is very easy to expand gambling. It's harder to impose a fair severance tax on the gas industry, close tax loopholes, enact property tax reform and otherwise increase revenue while more fairly spreading the tax burden.

For Pennsylvanians, the real gamble remains in the voting booth.

— The (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker

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SHIFT IN POWER, July 1

Pennsylvania occupies a unique nexus in the nation's ongoing transition from dirty to cleaner power generation.

Market forces created by the massive Marcellus Shale gas field are driving a shift from coal-powered to gas-powered electricity generation. The proposed Invenergy plant in Jessup is just one of four big gas-power projects in the state, and utilities generally are moving away from coal whenever possible.

The state also is an enormous potential source of wind-generated power because of the consistent wind along Appalachian ridges, although renewable growth slowed over the last four years because of Corbett administration policy favoring fossil fuels such as coal and gas.

Meanwhile, the state remains a major producer and consumer of coal. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the state is fourth nationally in coal production and 36.1 percent of its power generation was coal-fueled in 2014.

And, because of its geography, the state is downwind from the environmental fallout from even more coal-fired power production.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Environmental Protection Agency had not adequately considered cost in formulating new clean power plant rules.

Pennsylvania will benefit from strong rules because of its shift to gas and renewed interest in renewables under the Wolf administration. The state government should embrace the drive for cleaner air, which already is under way in the marketplace, and which will benefit Pennsylvania environmentally and economically.

— The (Scranton) Times-Tribune

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