The RP’s Weekly Web Gems – The Politics of the States

The city of Scranton is undergoing tough financial times that many believe are a sign of things to come for cities and states across the country.

It isn’t a stat issue per se, but last week’s wage cut by Scranton, PA mayor Chris Doherty is perhaps a harbinger of things to come. Over the protestation of unions and against a state Supreme Court ruling, Doherty moved last week to temporarily cut all public employees’ wages to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. Doherty, a Democrat, said that the maneuver was his only choice, as the city currently faces a nearly $17 million budget shortfall. This announcement comes during a two week timespan in which three California cities have filed for bankruptcy protection. [CBS News]

In other budget news, Illinois continues to grapple with prison issues. In the past six weeks, violent incidents have increased exponentially in the state’s overcrowded penitentiary system. Some factions in Illinois are using this uptick as ammunition against governor Pat Quinn’s plan to close the Tamms “supermax” prison in far southern Illinois, and all parties agree that there aren’t enough guards and other prison employees for the incarcerated population. (At the very least, they aren’t saying anything to the contrary.) [Springfield Journal-Register]


Moving to somewhat happier news, the state of California has finally approved funding for a high-speed rail project that has been in the legislative equivalent of development hell for several years. The plan passed the State Senate by a margin of one vote and was signed into law by governor Jerry Brown, who commended the legislators for their “bold action.” [San Jose Mercury News]

Andrew Cuomo may be going rogue . After holding fundraisers for Assembly Democrats last week, the New York governor said that he won’t necessarily support his own party in State Senate elections: “I could see myself endorsing any individual regardless of party label depending on positions, depending on the individual.” Many Senate Democrats are counting on Cuomo’s support in their quest to retake the tight but Republican-controlled chamber. [The Daily News]


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