Governor Josh Shapiro gets to work with his first executive order that could affect the PSSHE system

January 19 – The first executive order from Governor Josh Shapiro arrived yesterday and it opened a number of state jobs to no longer require a college degree – in fact, it’s 92 percent of the jobs.

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “What does this say to all those PhDs and the educated class that are holding court with these young skulls full of mush. What does that say to the Pennsylvania State Education System now with this executive order?”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “I think this is a great move. This is well overdue. I think it really opens up the base to a lot more people that could apply for these jobs who otherwise may not have been eligible. I’m sure privately these PSSHE schools and just higher education facilities in general in Pennsylvania, they don’t like this.”

College enrollment has been declining even before this executive order, so what will happen now?

Barkdoll said, “Even though this is just one sliver of the pie, it’s a pretty big sliver because it’s tens of thousands of jobs that theoretically would have been potential students at these schools. You have to figure there’s a segment of this group that’s now going to say, ‘look, I would like the idea of working for the state and if I can now get in, if I can get that IT job or whatever job it might be without the degree, I’m going right to work. I’m going to skip the expense and the time involved in college.’”

Governor Larry Hogan proposed the same executive order in Maryland as well.

PA Representative Rob Kauffman said, “It’s definitely what I would consider a positive signal. You’d have people on all levels of state government who felt like they needed to go to a PSSHE system school to get a basic education just to have a degree. Now they’re going to be able to go out in the state workforce without that piece of paper.”

Governor Tom Wolf proposed a $2,000 scholarship per academic year available to state workers and their families for a college degree from one of the 10 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Schools right before he left office. It would cost $5 million from the state’s ARPA money.

Ryan pointed out, “I would ask Governor Shapiro to yank that thing back because you don’t need a college degree anymore to work in state government.”

Kauffman noted, “Two grand, that might pay for three, four credits or something?”

Ryan asked, “What does that do for the rest of us?”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “Shapiro of course wants to be a more populist type of guy. He says every Pennsylvanian should have the freedom to chart their own course and have a real opportunity to succeed. They should get to decide what’s best for them. Who would disagree with that? Personal agency is one of the most valued, treasured things that Americans have and we see it getting eaten away when we’re forced to meet the demands of all kinds of requirements that sometimes don’t make any sense for what we want to do in life. So who wouldn’t be for this? Except maybe PSSHE who is like wait a minute, we like the idea that people think they have to come here for that degree, even if they’re never going to use the material.”

Bryan Cutler, the outgoing Republican Speaker of the PA House had some very favorable remarks about Shapiro yesterday.

Barkdoll said, “He really thinks there are a lot of issues that they’re going to get done in a bipartisan fashion that are not necessarily Republican or Democrat that are more just middle of the road, moderate, populist type issues. You’re going to see more executive orders today I think.”

Shapiro may have aspirations for President of the United States.

Kauffman said, “So I think we do have to acknowledge that and potentially look at the way he governs may also reflect what his future aspirations are.”

Jansen suggested, “That’s probably good for Pennsylvanians because if somebody unlike Governor Wolf, who was named the most liberal, progressive governor in the nation, Governor Shapiro if he has such aspirations can’t afford to go all extreme ideology the way Governor Wolf did. So it’ll be very interesting to me to see how he handles some of the things that Governor Wolf put into place that are very extreme. As people start to notice how it’s affecting their lives, this may be good for Pennsylvanians to have the opportunity to have someone who has to if he has those ambitions listen to more than one point of view.”

“It’s a valid perspective,” Kauffman confirmed. “And it could potentially serve Pennsylvania better than the alternative.”

Barkdoll said, “This executive order, his first one yesterday, I think is a great example of what you’re saying. It’s a very populist type position. We know during the campaign and we’ll see if he follows through with this, he was very open-minded about removing Pennsylvania from RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), for example. He said he was open to expanding charter school issues in Pennsylvania. These are not popular Democratic orthodoxy, but yet they’re very popular among the general electorate. So I’m really curious to see does he follow through on these things?”

Kauffman said, “I’m hoping there are good things that we can all agree on and get positive things done for Pennsylvania. I don’t want a governor to fail, just like I don’t want a president to fail because we are all in this together. We either sink together or swim together. I certainly want us to do well.”

Ryan said, “The race is over. The politics are over. The governor is seated. For the keyboard warriors and for that small group of loudmouths out there that are missing the boat, the election is done. We recognize it. We’re done with it. It’s time to move on. Donald Trump is not in office. Doug Mastriano is not in office. We’ve got people that are there that we’re praying for and that yeah, we’re going to have a spirited discussion with and we’re not going to agree on everything, but let’s move the heck forward.”

Jansen said, “Unfortunately, though, there’s a strategy that just wants to keep the animosity going. They’ll keep using the name-calling, instead of an honest discussion about we have a disagreement on maybe what caused the problem or maybe what the solution to the problem is. Can we get back to looking at the practical realities and the outcomes of policy to see whether or not this is good policy and should we change it?”

Kauffman said, “If we’re really going to govern from the center or from the populace or take that approach that was given to us on inauguration day, I think there’s a lot of commonalities in what people are struggling with. So we will see.”