The high-revving engine that was the partnership between the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania General Assembly and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett may be developing some minor sputtering.
Still looking to keep the troops pointed in the right direction, Corbett has been meeting with Republican House and Senate leaders in private (Democrats, stay out), apparently trying to convince them to abandon this Democrat-like notion that some unexpected extra state revenue should be used to restore some of the governor's cuts to education and social services.
Likewise, there seems to be some murmuring of concern among Republican ranks - no one dare call it dissent - over the governor's plan to lavish more than a billion dollars of tax credits on a Dutch company which plans to build a chemical plant near Pittsburgh.
Now comes Joe Scarnati, the Republican Senate Pro Tempore, offering a compromise to Corbett's stated desire to sell off the state's liquor business to private enterprise and use the resulting one-time influsion of cash to ameliorate the commonwealth's financial woes. In Scarnati's plan, the state liquor store system would remain, but the Liquor Control Board would be able to sell additional licenses to bars and restaurants for sales of single bottles of wine, and to beer distributors for sales of six-packs.
Scarnati's compromise is apparently aimed at not sacrificing the long-term profits of the state liquor system, while at the same time easing some of the restrictions on private enterprise.
Republicans, of course, will put a happy face on all of this, contending that all is well and they and the governor are working hand-in-hand to make Pennsylvania a better place to live and do business.
But, we believe there is something else at play here as well. The governor's approval rating is dropping (according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll), popular dissention over his gifts to the petro-chemical industry while education and social service spending is being reduced is becoming more widespread among the electorate.
Republicans in the House and Senate don't want to be infected with declining approval ratings, and we are likely to see more compromises coming from Capitol Republicans.