HARRISBURG, March 4 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said the charter-school bill House Republicans passed today (H.B. 530) doesn't contain much reform and deserves a "D" grade. "There's very little reform in this partisan charter-school bill and in fact, some of its provisions would actually take Pennsylvania backwards. It would weaken local control of charters, which are public schools and funded with tax dollars," Roebuck said. "One major way the bill would weaken local control is by stacking the state charter school appeals board, which has generally been even-handed and approved about 50 percent of the charter school applications that reach it. The bill's $4 million in savings for Philadelphia would probably be wiped out by hundreds of millions of dollars in new costs for charter schools. "Keep your $4 million and give me a board that will be fair! "This bill could also cost local property taxpayers money and jobs by giving charter schools right of first refusal on unused school properties that the community might want to put to another use, such as locating a new business there. "Governor Wolf's budget proposes reasonable limits on cyber charter school payments that would return $160 million in savings per year to school districts -- permanently. This House Republican bill would only provide about $24 million in savings Read more
HARRISBURG, March 4 – State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced legislation to create a tutoring program where 11th- and 12th-graders could tutor elementary school-aged children for academic credit. "This proposal could be a valuable resource for every one of Pennsylvania's school districts, not only because it is designed to boost student achievement at little-to-no cost to taxpayers, but also because it would get students to succeed by helping each other," Freeman said. "The one-on-one tutoring can help both sets of students. High school students serve as positive role models for the younger students who receive help with their studies. While the older students receive academic credit for helping the young students to achieve, they also hone their own understanding of academic subjects by taking on the responsibilities of being a tutor." Freeman's plan also includes a provision that would encourage 11th- and 12th-grade students who are not meeting their academic potential to participate as tutors. He said that students who become tutors improve their own academic performance because they begin to take their own studies more seriously in order to help the young students they are tutoring. "Helping someone by sharing your expertise, can, in turn, bring out the best in yourself. That's a wonderful gift to share with others," Freeman said. The bill (H.B. 723) is expected to be referred to the House Read more
HARRISBURG, March 4 – The state House of Representatives adopted a resolution today sponsored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, that designates the week of March 15 through March 21 as “Sunshine Week” in Pennsylvania.
Matzie’s resolution, H.R. 89, honors an initiative started in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors to encourage the public to play an active and informed role in government of all levels.
"To ensure our government is functioning at its best, an informed public and an independent media are essential," Matzie said. "Our Founding Fathers left us with the tremendous gift of our democracy, and it is our duty to ensure its survival."
The ASME’s initiative also stresses the importance of an open and transparent government at all levels.
"Transparency is more than just a buzzword; it is a promise public officials make to their constituents that they will act truthfully and serve with integrity at all times," Matzie said. "I hope this resolution not only serves as a reminder about the importance of open government, but also the risks of unwarranted secrecy."
Since its inception in 2005, the Sunshine Week initiative has been celebrated each March to coincide with James Madison's birthday on March 16. The resolution was adopted unanimously.
State Rep. Tina Davis has opened new offices in Bristol Township and Penndel to assist 141st Legislative District residents with any state-government-related concern. Read more
HARRISBURG, Mar. 3 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf's 2015-16 proposed budget:
“I commend Governor Wolf on his commonsense proposal to put Pennsylvania’s students, seniors and middle class first. His priorities are clear: to build up ‘jobs that pay, schools that teach, and government that works.’
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee, said today that Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal is a good first step in crafting a budget to move Pennsylvania forward. Wheatley said the governor’s proposal addresses the projected $2.3 billion structural deficit, increases funding for education and includes a plan to improve the state’s business climate. These elements are all part of the governor’s commitment to create jobs that pay, schools that teach and government that works. "The Finance Committee will play a crucial role in this year’s budget process due to the significant tax policy changes being proposed," Wheatley said. "I look forward to working on all of these proposals when they get to my committee." Those tax changes include an increase in the sales tax from 6 percent to 6.6 percent and an increase in the cigarette tax of $1 per pack, from $1.60 to $2.60. The plan would also implement a tax on the extraction of natural gas and a tax on smokeless tobacco and cigars. In addition to increasing education funding by $2 billion over four years, the governor wants to provide $3.8 billion in local tax relief for homeowners, renters, individuals and businesses in the form of property tax relief, wage tax relief and expanded rent rebates. The governor also aims to address the state's pension funding challenge with a multi-faceted strategy Read more
“This budget addresses priorities important to the middle class. Priorities that would fund education, create good-paying jobs and lower property taxes. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey today voiced support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s state budget proposal, unveiled this morning during a special joint session of the General Assembly. Wolf’s budget seeks to restore cuts to basic education with a four-year commitment to increase funding by $2 billion, while cutting the average homeowner’s property taxes by 50 percent and reducing the total tax burden on middle-class families. “Governor Wolf’s plan is rooted in reality and acknowledges that Pennsylvania needs long-term, sustainable funding and job growth to get its affairs back on track,” said Kinsey, D-Phila, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee. “We need a fresh approach to the budget – not more cuts, which have only served to devalue our education system and place our future prosperity in jeopardy. “At the same time, the proposal seeks $3.8 billion in local tax relief for homeowners, renters, individuals and businesses through property tax relief, wage-tax relief and expanded rent rebates. To me, this shows that while the governor recognizes the need for new revenue, he is balancing it with targeted cuts that help families prosper. I can get behind that, and I look forward to working his priorities into meaningful legislation. “Additionally, the governor embraces education in his budget and provides $1 billion toward restoring cuts to Pre-K through 12 and higher education, Read more
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2015-16 proposed budget:
“Governor Wolf’s bold and creative plan is a step in the right direction for Pennsylvania. After four years of abysmal job numbers, harmful education cuts and disregard for the middle class, this proposal is a welcome change that reinvests in our students, seniors and hardworking citizens.
State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, issued the following statement today following Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address: Read more
"Governor Wolf campaigned on offering a new approach to governing and the budget plan he outlined today proves he was serious.
"While his budget address is just the first step in a long process, I hope it is completed by the mandated June 30 date. The proposal he unveiled today offers much for Pennsylvania.
HARRISBURG, March 3 – Centre County state Rep. Scott Conklin released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf's 2015-16 budget address: "Governor Wolf's plan is comprehensive and ambitious. "The plan makes investments in the state’s future with increases in education funding. We are looking to rebuild a broken education funding system that was the product of the last four years. Penn State is a leader in higher education and Governor Wolf made it clear that he recognizes that. With a proposed funding increase, we can restore cuts that have been made and better prepare students for their careers in the workforce. He is proposing an increase in funding for Penn State of more than 10 percent and that would be meaningful. "I am pleased that the governor and I share the same sentiments when it comes to utilizing opportunities within the Marcellus Shale natural gas development. We would tap into a new revenue source that would still keep us on top as an energy leader without using a single dime of taxpayers' money. Why not use this budget as an opportunity to provide an additional revenue source to help those who need it most? "As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will be actively involved in the next step of the process which includes three weeks of public hearings and discussions about state agencies' needs. The governor has laid the groundwork, the House and Senate will now pick up their Read more
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Michael Driscoll, D-Phila., released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf's 2015-16 budget address:
"I would like to commend Governor Wolf for his ambitious plan for rebuilding Pennsylvania's middle class. While many details of his plan will be further clarified when the House has the opportunity to hold budget hearings, I am glad he is focused on restoring our schools, improving our economy and reducing the burden of property taxes throughout the commonwealth.
"The past few years have been marked by a crippling disinvestment in our institutions of education, which in turn has increased the property tax burden on homeowners and small business owners. The only way to solve this problem is by properly funding our schools, and ensuring that level of funding is sustainable and secure. I am also optimistic that Wolf will be successful instituting a fair funding formal to ensure every penny of education funds is going where it is needed most.
"With a $2.3 billion budget deficit currently facing the state, bold action and innovative ideas are going to be needed to put us back on the right path. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the House to ensure that final budget works for the good of all Pennsylvanians."
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, today released this statement on Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed 2015-16 state budget following his address to the General Assembly: "I commend Governor Wolf for proposing a bold budget that would finally resolve our Commonwealth’s structural deficit instead of continuing to kick the can down the road with budget gimmicks. "The governor’s budget looks out for the citizens of Pennsylvania, not the special interests of Pennsylvania. Those criticizing his plan are looking out for those special interests by trying to defend the status quo of unsound budgets. Pennsylvanians elected a new governor because they want a fresh start, not more of the same. "I believe Governor Wolf’s plan will deliver property tax relief, effective investments in education, increased economic development, and meaningful pension reform that puts Pennsylvania back on the right fiscal path and benefits the citizens of Pennsylvania." Read more
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, released this statement following Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address today: “Governor Wolf’s first budget addressed two issues vitally important to the people of my district: property taxes and quality education. I am very pleased Governor Wolf will tackle these important issues, which had been placed on the back burner during previous administrations. His proposal would cut in half the property tax paid by the average homeowner and eliminate property taxes for many seniors. In addition to the direct benefit to homeowners, reduced property taxes ease the burden on existing businesses and help attract new development. “I was also pleased to hear the governor’s plans to restore funding cuts in basic education and expand the number of children in pre-kindergarten programs by 75 percent. Moreover, his commitment to increased funding for community colleges would benefit Luzerne County Community College, a vital resource in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We must improve all areas of education to make our state stronger. "At this point in the budget process, it is far too early to understand all of the implications of such a dramatic change in the way we approach and fund state and local governments. But the governor did today present us with a real vision for the future. I look forward to a vigorous discussion and hope that all members of the General Assembly, Read more
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., welcomed today's budget proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf as a fresh start for Pennsylvania schools and jobs after four years of backwards policies under ex-Gov. Tom Corbett. "Governor Wolf has put forth a bold budget plan to undo the Corbett cuts to education, provide a wage tax break in Philadelphia and pull Pennsylvania up from the rank of 50th in job creation. Members of both parties in the legislature need to keep an open mind and give this plan a fair and full hearing. Governor Wolf was right to say today that Pennsylvania can't afford to continue on the course of the last four years. I also welcome his recognition of the need for non-discrimination protections for LGBT people," Sims said. Sims represents the 182nd Legislative District, which includes Rittenhouse, Fitler and Logan Squares, the Gayborhood and parts of Washington Square West, Bella Vista, Hawthorne, Graduate Hospital and Queen Village. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Peter G. Schweyer, D-Lehigh, released this statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2015-15 budget proposal: "The Allentown School District lost more than 400 teachers over the last few years as a direct result of cuts to education funding. During that time, property taxes continued to escalate forcing more and more people – in particular our seniors – to make some extremely difficult financial decisions. Governor Wolf’s first budget certainly begins to address these issues by presenting a bold plan for Pennsylvania. “In addition to a real commitment to K-12 education Governor Wolf made a commitment to affordable higher education and additional money for Pre-K. As a husband to a pre-K educator and a father to an Allentown School District student, this is certainly most welcome news. “Governor Wolf made a real commitment to middle class tax cuts. He made a real commitment to manufacturing. These are all tremendous goals – goals that Democrats and Republicans should all be able to agree on. "At this point in the budget process, it is far too early to understand all of the implications of such a dramatic change in the way we approach and fund state and local government. But what the Governor did today was present us with a real vision for the future instead of nibbling on the fringes. "I look forward to a vigorous discussion and hope that all members of the General Assembly, Read more
HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf's 2015-16 budget address:
"The past four years have been an abysmal failure for our state. Pennsylvania’s credit is in shambles, job creation continues to be at or near the bottom in the United States, property taxes have increased 20 percent in the Allentown School District, and there are 400 fewer teachers educating our youth in community schools.
"Tom Wolf came to office understanding that the previous administration kicked the can down the road too many times, and he acknowledges the need for change. Last summer I said we would have a fiscal day of reckoning in 2015 because it is simply fiscally irresponsible to continue on the path we are on. I have always believed that fiscal responsibility is more than just not spending; it's being able to invest in the future.
"Governor Wolf's plan does just that and will allow Allentown to stop laying off teachers and even bring teachers back into the classroom. I also commend the governor for addressing real property tax reform, as the previous administration's refusal to properly fund education has placed an increased burden on homeowners and small-business owners.
"I look forward to closely reviewing this budget to see how it might benefit Allentown and South Whitehall taxpayers. However, I will say that it's madness to think that we can cut or sell our way out of the $2.3 billion budget deficit Read more
HARRISBURG, March 3 – Below is a statement from s tate Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2015-16 budget proposal: "I was energized by Governor Wolf’s budget plan outlined today because it sets a new course for Pennsylvania by focusing on the issues that will put people first. His aggressive approach – which looks to solve the significant issues facing our commonwealth, not just cover them up with one-time band aids, while trying to undo the damage of the last four years – is impressive to say the least. It’s a comprehensive proposal that will provide our people with jobs that pay, schools that teach and a government that works. "I stand with Governor Wolf on his plan to provide dedicated state funding for our schools – and once again making the commonwealth a true partner in educating our kids. I also applaud his dedication to creating a fairer tax system that removes the burden of property and wage taxes and ensures that corporations will pay their fair share. And I commend his efforts to reverse the trend facing our state’s pension system by actually solving the crisis while respecting the value of our state and union workers. "All-in-all, I believe that Governor Wolf’s budget proposal will greatly impact the people of Philadelphia and all residents of this commonwealth. It’s bold, aggressive and challenging, especially amid the political realities Read more
CONSHOHOCKEN, March 2 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, today announced upcoming time changes for her two mobile offices in the 148th Legislative District. Mobile office hours at the Ambler Borough Hall, 122 E. Butler Ave. will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m . the first and third Tuesday of each month. Mobile office hours at the Narberth Borough Hall, 100 Conway Ave. will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m . the second and fourth Tuesday of month. These changes will take effect Tuesday March 10. A legislative staffer will be present at these times, days and locations to provide brochures and forms, information on state programs and services, answers to questions and help with problems. “These time changes still allow my staff to provide quality services and assistance in the northern and southern portions of the 148 th District, along with my district office centrally located in Conshohocken,” Daley said. For more information about either mobile office, constituents can call Rep. Daley’s constituent service office at 610-832-1679. Read more
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