President-Elect Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris have won enough electoral votes to be declared the winners of the 2020 Presidential Election.
In Pennsylvania, Vice President Biden made large gains in the surrounding suburban counties (Chester, Montco, Delaware and Bucks), improving on Hillary Clinton’s margins from 2016. For example, Secretary Clinton won Bucks county by one percent, Vice President Biden won it by 3.4 percent. Delaware and Montgomery County delivered a combined 80,000 more votes for Biden than they did for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Additionally, Vice President Biden was able to flip two counties that Hillary lost in 2016, Erie and Northampton counties.
State House and State Senate
In Pennsylvania, there was an expectation that the state house or state senate would switch to Democratic control. As of Friday, many races were too close to call as mail-in-ballots can be counted if they are postmarked by election day and received by Friday. It does however, look likely that Republicans will continue their majority in both the state house and senate. Currently, PA House Democrats picked up one seat in the Montgomery county suburbs(HD152) held by retiring State Rep. Thomas Murt. The PA House Republicans also picked up two seats, HD143 in Bucks County held by Rep. Wendy Ullman and HD123 in Western PA held by retiring State Rep. Neal Goodman. The Democrats in the State Senate picked up one seat so far in Delaware County held by Sen. Tom Killion while the Republicans have potentially picked up two seats in Allegheny County held by Sen. Pam Lovino (SD37) and Sen. Brewster (SD-45). However, neither incumbent has conceded yet. Leadership elections for the house and senate will be this week and we anticipate new leadership in the house for appropriations and potentially minority leader.
Pennsylvania also had three statewide offices up for reelection, Attorney General, Auditor General and Treasurer. Currently, incumbent Attorney General Josh Shapiro has declared victory. Democrat Nina Ahmad lost the Auditor General Seat to Republican Timothy L. DeFoor. Mr. DeFoor is the first Repubican to win the seat in two decades. He is also the first African American to win a statewide elected office. He has spent three decades conducting governmental audits and fraud investigations for the state inspector general, the state attorney general and a large hospital system. He is currently Dauphin County Controller. As auditor general, Defoor wants to cut wasteful government spending to protect taxpayers and end political loopholes like the “honor system” that allows state agencies to keep high-dollar, taxpayer funded contracts hidden from the public.
Lastly. current incumbent Treasurer Joe Torsella (D) is trailing his republican opponent by 1.7 points. No results have been called as provisional ballots need to be tabulated.
Republicans in the state house and senate will continue to be in the majority leading into 2022 when the state will redraw its maps. However, Democrats control the Supreme Court and in Pennsylvania all maps have to be approved by the state Supreme Court. After speaking with party insiders, Bellevue Strategies believes that after 2022, the Democrats will be in a much better legislative position to enact more progressive policies that benefit the city of Philadelphia.
Many policies such as increasing the minimum wage, a statewide paid sick leave, and additional funding for public school systems have become more difficult to achieve. The state will instead be focused on pension reform, consolidating the PA State System of Higher Education and the impacts of COVID-19. Additionally, Bellevue Strategies anticipates that the Republican members of legislature will continue to try and limit Governor Wolf’s emergency declaration to limit his executive power.
The state is also facing an enormous budget deficit and must pass a budget by Nov.30th Revenue has also fallen as businesses have closed. Between April and June, Pennsylvania’s tax revenues were down by more than 30% according to the Urban Institute.Overall, the coronavirus outbreak will cost Pennsylvania almost $5 billion in lost tax revenue through next June, the Independent Fiscal Office. However, over the summer, Pennsylvania’s tax revenue grew after months of business closures buoyed sales taxes.
There is hope that with a Biden Presidency, state and local governments will receive more funding. Additionally, there is $1.3 billion of CARES funding available that the state has yet to disburse.
Business Climate / Economic Development
COVID-19 has had a major impact on small and large businesses in the Commonwealth. To help the struggling restaurant industry, Governor Wolf recently announced that his administration would waive liquor license fees starting in January. Additionally, the state administered a COVID-19 business grant from the original CARES Funds the state received.
Updated COVID-19 Numbers
Pennsylvania is now averaging nearly double the amount of new COVID-19 cases than it was during the peak of the pandemic in April, as the number of infections continues to rise. Currently, we are averaging over 3000 cases a day and this past Saturday set a record with 4,035 new cases. Governor Wolf has repeatedly said that he will not impose any new restrictions during this time as he did in April.
Nonprofits will continue to suffer if Pennsylvania does not receive any funding from the federal government. Many nonprofits rely on a mix of federal, state, and private funding in Philadelphia. Additionally, nonprofits were not eligible for state COVID-19 grant fundings. Nonprofit organizations have spoken to Governor Wolf and the Republican majority and are hopeful for additional funding in the next round of Cares funding. Additionally, Representative Natalie Mihalek (HB2740) has introduced legislation to establish a grant program to support the Commonwealth’s human services system. Referred to as the Nonprofit Economic Emergency Delivery System (NEEDS) Grants Program, the initiative will focus on the more than 8,500 nonprofit organizations that provide critical services for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable population. The bill would transfer $200 million from the Cares Funding.