Friday, July 31, 2009

Economy League Research Wins Award

A report from the Greater Philadelphia Economy League won the Governmental Research Association's 2009 Most Distinguished Research Award. The report focused on the Philadelphia Gas Works. Details and a link to the report are on the Economy League's website:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Doug Pike on DADT

Douglas Pike, the only declared Democratic candidate for the 6th congressional district has announced his opposition to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. An email sent to supporters read, in part,:

Right now, in compliance with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law (DADT), the United States military is firing good soldiers - simply for being gay, lesbian or bisexual. This policy is wrong, and it makes our nation less safe.

I reject the argument that the U.S. military can't function effectively with gay men and women serving openly. Many of our allies allow gay men and women to serve openly in their militaries, and no one would ever accuse these militaries - the Israel Defense Forces or the British Army - of lacking toughness or suffering from morale

I also don’t accept the argument that the men and women in the U.S. armed forces lack the professionalism to work alongside servicemembers who are gay. We have the greatest military in the world, and they are ready to do their jobs without this outdated policy causing them to lose capable comrades-in-arms for no good reason. We’re fighting two wars, and we need all hands on deck.

What’s more, over 100 retired generals and admirals agree. They recently signed a letter urging Congress to repeal DADT.

I endorse the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283), which would replace DADT with a policy of non-discrimination, allowing gay individuals to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Congressional Quarterly's congressional race rankings currently has this district in the "leans Democratic" category. I am told that Pike is one of the only challengers endorsing the repeal, who is currently favored to win.

DADT: Soldier's Stories

The Let Them Serve website ( is posting the stories of the soldiers who were affected in some way by the military's don't ask don't tell policy.

Many of those dismissed prefer to maintain their privacy, but a few have spoken out in the press. You can read some of their stories here, here, here, here, and here.

Fed Money for PA Transit

From the inbox:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced nearly $78 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) funding for approximately 240 new law enforcement officers at 15 transit systems across the country to enhance the nation’s ability to guard against acts of terrorism.

“Securing our mass transit systems requires well-trained personnel on the ground to protect against those who seek to cause harm,” said Secretary Napolitano. “This Recovery Act money will create critical law enforcement jobs that will help our nation prevent terrorist attacks.”

Secretary Napolitano announced the funding at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, where hundreds of thousands of commuters and visitors travel each day. The grants will provide approximately $35 million for approximately 125 new officers in the New York Police Department through the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority as well as additional resources in other urban transit systems across the nation.

The announcement reflects Secretary Napolitano’s commitment to applying Recovery Act funds to projects and programs that create jobs for Americans while strengthening the security of the United States quickly and efficiently.

The funds, allocated by the Transportation Security Administration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Fiscal Year 2009 Transit Security Grant Program, will be used by transit agencies to hire new law enforcement officers and by police departments with dedicated transit bureaus to hire anti-terrorism personnel, purchase anti-terrorism equipment and obtain and train explosive detection canines.

The three types of grants announced today include:

Ø Anti-Terrorism Teams, including overt and covert officers whose activities focus on terrorism prevention;

Ø Explosive Detection Canine Teams, which consist of an explosives detection canine and an officer/handler; and

Ø Mobile Explosives Detection Screening Teams, which deploy trained officers and explosives detection technology for random security screening in the transit environment.

PA projects included in today's announcements:


Philadelphia Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) $2,085,000

Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) $4,458,870

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Few Words on K-12 Education

I've been intending to write on this topic for some time but never can get all my references together at the same time. So I've pulled together a few of them to put this post together and may write more later when the rest surface.

Questions Asked

When talking with groups of parents or teachers and the subject of a kid who has been in trouble comes up there is always one question asked. It isn't "who was his / her math teacher?" or "what school did he / she go to?" or even "who were his / her friends?" The one question is always "what is his / her home life like?" We all feel for parents whose children fell in with a bad crowd or were having a tough adolescence schools are seldom to blame for this. Nor can all parents be blamed when their kids have problems. But it is often the first thing that comes to mind. Just wanted to say that.

Test Scores and Teachers' Unions

I've seen something noted a few times in articles but can only find one source on it right now, and it is from 1996, but I know I've seen the same thing said more recently. There is a correlation between teachers' unions and test scores. It is this: test scores are higher in areas where teachers are unionized. This is the report I can find this evening, from 1996: "Are teachers unions hurting America's education," by F. Howard Nelson and Michael Rosen." It's a long pdf but there is a brief executive summary.

Teachers' Unions and Job Security

You often hear that unions keep bad teachers from being fired. Not so fast. David Macarary writes in "The Myth of the Powerful Teachers Union" ( 3/22/09):

Maher made a huge deal of the fact that, because of the union’s protective shield, less than 1% of California’s tenured/post-probationary teachers get fired. Although this ratio clearly outraged him (he appeared visibly upset by it), had he taken five minutes to research the subject, he’d have realized that this figure represents the national average—with or without unions.

In Georgia, where 92.5% of the teachers are non-union, only 0.5% of tenured/post-probationary teachers get fired. In South Carolina, where 100% of the teachers are non-union, it’s 0.32%. And in North Carolina, where 97.7% are non-union, a miniscule .03% of tenured/post-probationary teachers get fired—the exact same percentage as California.

An even more startling comparison: In California, with its “powerful” teachers’ union, school administrators fire, on average, 6.91% of its probationary teachers. In non-union North Carolina, that figure is only 1.38%. California is actually tougher on prospective candidates.

What is a good teacher?

The New Yorker had a really good article last December 15 on good teachers and what made a teacher a good teacher. Malcolm Gladwell write "Most likely to succeed." The short answer was described as "withitness." It's a good article and those interested in education should read it.

From a parent's point of view I've found there is no simple "good" teacher definition. There are, however, good teachers for my individual children, and what is good for one child is not necessarily good for any other. Parents, especially mothers, talk to each other about teachers. I try to find a parent who has a child similar to each of my children but a year or so older and quiz them about what teachers were good for that child and what teachers weren't, and use that information to try to steer my children, through whatever avenues are available to me, into those classrooms. Some children thrive in classrooms with a lot of individual activity, bright colors, lots of stimulation. Some children do better with a routine and fewer distractions. It doesn't make the teachers in those classrooms better or worse, merely different. If a child has a passion for science or history they will do better with a teacher that shares that passion. The key point here is that I view it as my job to find out who is teaching what grade, what sort of teacher he or she is, and whether or not that is a good fit for my particular snowflakes.

This requires there to be some uniformity to the teacher's roster from year to year. Of course, due to retirements, moves, etc., there are always a few new teachers and that stirs up the "mommy network" quite a bit. Parents of kids with new teachers get quizzed more than parents of kids with teachers who've been around for awhile.

Of course there are always one or two teachers that no one seems to like; I suppose those would be classified as "bad" teachers, though not everyone whose child was in that classroom complains about them. On the other hand, some award winning teachers are not sought out by all parents. It could be that the structure of that classroom is not well suited for that specific child or perhaps the subject matter stressed is not to that child's liking.

The point I'm trying to make is that spotting "good" teachers and "bad" teachers is not always clear cut. Issues of legalities, chronic absenteeism, ignorance of the subject matter or volatile personality characteristics are never good, of course, but outside of those there are great variations.

It always behooves a parent to know what is going on in their child's classroom and that entails going to parent / teacher conferences, volunteering in the classroom where possible and keeping in touch with other parents. That requires stable families, flexible work hours, and a social network. Schools can't necessarily do much about that.

To sum it up, things are not a simple as we would all like to think.

Full disclosure: I'm an official in my local union, and though I've never taught in a k-12 environment, I have taught a few college classes over the years.

Fed Money for PA Transportation

From last Friday's inbox:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $92.7 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds for transit upgrades and improvements across Pennsylvania.

“The Recovery Act was put in place quickly to rescue the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression and rebuild it for a stronger future,” said Secretary LaHood. “Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is a key part of that prescription for strength. It creates jobs today and builds a better, more sustainable economy moving forward.”

Grants are being awarded as follows:

· Pennsylvania Department of Transportation: $30.2 million for the purchase of 45 35-foot buses, two 30-foot buses, three 40-foot vehicles, rebuild four 35-foot buses, construct intermodal transit center; rehabilitate/renovate administrative and maintenance facility and park & ride lot.

· Port Authority of Allegheny County: $62.5 million for the North Shore Connector Project.

Since President Obama signed ARRA into law on Feb. 17, 2009, 415 grants totaling $3.8 billion have been made available for transit improvements throughout the nation.

“These funds are creating jobs now while investing in the future of our transit systems,” said Administrator Peter Rogoff of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). “The public’s demand for transit service continues to grow, and these dollars will help meet that need.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation has made $48.1 billion available for highway, road, transit, bridge and airport construction and repairs nationwide. Of that, $21.9 billion already has been obligated to fund more than 6,658 approved projects in 55 U.S. States and Territories.

Fed Money for PA Police

From the inbox:

Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder today announced $1 billion in grants to fund the hiring and rehiring of law enforcement officers all across the country under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The grants will be awarded to 1,046 law enforcement agencies from all 50 states, including more than $20,163,683 in grants to fund the hiring and rehiring of 93 law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania. These funds will provide 100 percent of the approved salary and benefits for these officers for three years. All police departments receiving the grants will then be required to retain the grant-funded positions for a fourth year.

“A big part of the Recovery Act is about building communities – making them as strong as they can be, allowing every American family to live a better life than the one they are leading now,” said Vice President Joe Biden. “And we can’t achieve the goal of stronger communities without supporting those who keep our streets safe.”

The Recovery Act grants, which will be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) through the federal agency’s COPS Hiring Recovery Program, provide much needed financial support to state, local and tribal governments, and will help the nation’s law enforcement agencies add and retain the manpower needed to fight crime more effectively through community policing. The Department of Justice received over 7,200 applications for more than 39,000 officer positions, representing a total of $8.3 billion in requested funding.

“These Recovery Act funds will pump much needed resources into communities through a program with a proven track record,” said Attorney General Holder. “The tremendous demand for these grants is indicative of both the tough times our states, cities and tribes are facing, and the unyielding commitment by law enforcement to making our communities safer.”

The COPS Hiring Recovery Program funds were awarded to the following applicants in Pennsylvania:

Agency Name / Officers Awarded / Award Amount

Harrisburg Bureau of Police 8 $1,689,552.00

Philadelphia Police Department 50 $10,903,350.00

Coatesville Police Department 1 $192,716.00

Chester Police Department 5 $970,315.00

Homestead, Borough of 1 $142,493.00

Erie, City of 6 $1,563,720.00

McKees Rocks, Borough of 1 $223,083.00

Norristown Police Department 1 $309,540.00

Sharon, City of 1 $194,901.00

Reading, City of 4 $1,000,100.00

McKeesport, City of 3 $641,763.00

City of Easton Pennsylvania 3 $669,768.00

Aliquippa, City of 1 $133,008.00

Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department 1 $165,158.00

Rochester Police Department 1 $181,125.00

Williamsport Bureau of Police 3 $644,499.00

Beaver Falls, City of 1 $167,625.00

Knox, Borough of 1 $160,172.00

Wilkinsburg Police Department 1 $210,795.00

The Recovery Act includes $4 billion in Department of Justice grant funding to enhance state, local, and tribal law enforcement efforts, including the hiring of new police officers, to combat violence against women, and to fight internet crimes against children. In addition to today’s COPS awards, to date the Department of Justice has awarded $1.7 billion through formula state and local Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, $95 million through the Victims of Crime Act Formula Grant Program, $41.5 million for Internet Crimes Against Children initiatives, $127 million in Office on Violence Against Women Recovery Act funds and $8.6 million for assistance for law enforcement along the Southern Border and in high intensity drug trafficking areas.

For more information about the COPS grants, or to learn which law enforcement agencies received funding, please visit

Bill Requiring Electronic Payment for Medicare

From the inbox:

Today, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rep. Mike Arcuri (D-NY, 24th District), and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA, 8th District) announced their introduction of the IMPROVE (Improving Medicare and Medicaid Policy for Reimbursements through Oversight and Efficiency) Act.

This bipartisan legislation eliminates fraud in the health care system and protects taxpayer dollars by requiring that Medicare and Medicaid reimburse their providers and suppliers via electronic deposit at a bank or credit union. Medicare fraud drains $60 billion in taxpayer money every year; lax verification and identification requirements at check cashing stores make it easy for scammers to commit fraud and disappear without a trace. The IMPROVE Act closes this check-cashing laundering loophole.

“I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing a bipartisan bill that cracks down on the fraud and abuse in our health care system, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and draining our government’s resources,” said Rep. Murphy. “Every dollar we lose to fraud is a dollar lost for tax cuts for middle-class families.”

"As a former District Attorney, I am very pleased to join with my colleagues Congressman Murphy and Senator Klobuchar to promote valuable legislation to end the fraud and predatory practices in our Medicare system," Rep. Arcuri said. "I will continue to fight for these changes that will help address the fundamental issue of rising costs facing our health care system and lead to better quality care for everyone."

“As a former prosecutor, I saw firsthand how crooks cheated the health care system and stole money that should have been used to provide care for those who need it most – our seniors and most vulnerable citizens,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This legislation can save taxpayer dollars as well as the valuable time and resources of our law enforcement officials.”

“America’s 39,000 prosecutors need this legislation,” said Scott Burns, Executive Director of the National District Attorney’s Associate. “The IMPROVE Act is an important tool in the fight to crack down on fraud and recover taxpayer dollars.”

The IMPROVE Act has been endorsed by the AARP, the National District Attorneys Association, the Credit Union National Association, and the American Bankers Association.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shapiro Speaks at Women's Rally on Budget

State Rep Josh Shapiro (D-153) spoke at a rally today on the effects the proposed state budget would have on women and families.

Details on the PA House site.

Drilling Disclosure Bills Introduced

One of my qualms about the state allowing drilling for natural gas in marcellus shale is the amount of water needed for the usual drilling procedure, and the environment effects of drilling.

A bill introduced in Congress and the Senate takes care of some of that by requiring companies to disclose the chemicals used in the drilling process. A little transparency doesn't hurt things ...

For details, see "Feds want disclosure of chemicals used in drilling," by Gary Weckselblatt in Phillyburbs.

The bills have local sponsors:

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania sponsored the Senate bill, and 8th District Rep. Patrick Murphy is a co-sponsor of the House plan.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2nd Quarter 2009 FEC Report Round Up

Okay, here we go again. First off, you can browse these reports yourself at As always I apologize in advance for any errors or misinterpretations. I am neither a lawyer nor an accountant, just an interested observer and these thoughts should be taken as such.

This quarter covers April – June, 2009.

Keep your eye on individual donations vs. PAC’s

Some candidates, such as Doug Pike, Allyson Schwartz, and Patrick Murphy, leave their reports in alphabetical order. That makes it easy to see who donated what when. Some arrange their reports chronologically so you can see the pattern of donations. Others, most of the other candidates listed here, scramble their reports so the names are not in alphabetical order or the donations on chronological order and that makes it darn difficult to keep track of them. Transparency, folks, a little more transparency please. Yes, this thwarts your opponent but it thwarts your constituents too.

If there are two numbers one is for the quarter, the other for the election cycle to date.

Watch the itemized (over $250 donations), unitemized (smaller donations), and PAC ratios. Generally, you will find unitemized to be about 10% the amount of itemized and PAC’s either a half or quarter of that. Sestak has a lower percentage of PAC donations than you might expect, Gerlach has a much larger percentage.

6th Congressional District

Gerlach has announced that he plans to run for governor so it may not be fair to compare these reports. However, note that even without his own money contributions, Pike raised more money for individuals than Gerlach.

Jim Gerlach, Republican incumbent

Contributions (other than loans)
Itemized 91,485.00
Unitemized 14,869.89
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 106,354.89 / 167,751.89
Political Party Commitees 100.00 100.00
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 93, 925.00 / 182,675.00
Total Contributions 200,379.89 / 350,526.89
Transfers From Other Authorized Committees 0.00 / 618.24
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 80.00 / 3,354.92
Other Receipts 8,736.40 / 14, 752.60
Total Receipts 209,196.29 / 369,252.65
Operating Expenditures 122,064.24 / 371,388.80
Other Disbursements 11,350.00 / 15,300.00
Total Disbursements 133,414.24 / 386,688.80
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 124,289.38
Total Receipts This Period 209,196.29 / 369,252.65
Subtotal 333,485.67
Total Disbursements This Period 133,414.24 / 386,688.80
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 200,071.43

Contributions listed chronologically not alphabetically. Most donors are from in-state. Only two newly maxed out contributors. His gubernatorial campaign reimburses his congressional campaign for rent and other expenses. Campbell Campaigns was paid over 35K for media and other campaign services. A DC fundraiser was paid 21K, a Texas fundraiser was paid 6K. There are two paid employees, at least one has health insurance. The bookkeeper earned 6K; the campaign 4K in legal fees.

Doug Pike, Democratic challenger

Contributions (other than loans)
Itemized Individuals 123,622.90
Unitemized Individuals 18,552.71
Total from Individuals 142,175.61
PACS 11,500
The Candidate 510,000.00
Total Contributions 663,675.61
Operating Expenditures 33,789.66
Total Disbursements 33,789.66
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 0.00
Total Receipts This Period 663,675.61 / 66,3675.61
Subtotal 663,675.61
Total Disbursements This Period 33,789.66 / 33,789.66
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 629,885.95

This is Pike’s first report so there is no second, cycle to date, column. The report is easy to read, 7 maxed out contributors, many out of state contributors, a lot of smaller, $100 to $500 contributions, standard mix of doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, with some retired newspaper people, librarians, and publishers mixed in, so he can revisit the well a number of times. Note he also received over $18K in unitemized, smaller, contributions. There will probably have to be an amendment because I think his money will have to be listed as a loan and not a contribution, though he can forgive the loan later if he so chooses. In PACS, there is a $2K from Patrick Murphy’s PAC, and a $1K from Allyson Schwartz’s PAC. Disbursements are primarily for fundraising. One such consultant received $12K, a second $1K and a third, nearly $3K. A management consultant received $6K. He is using NGP software. There are also standard payments for rent, phones, etc.

7th Congressional District

I don’t think any Republicans have formally announced for this race. Craig Williams who ran against Sestak in 2008 still has an active campaign but this quarter he was spending it down and not bringing in any new contributions. To further complicate matters, Sestak has said that he intends to run for Senate but has not filed formal papers. So unless Sestak changes his mind it is an open seat.

Joe Sestak, Incumbent Democrat (elected 2006)

Individuals Itemized 755,631.15
Individuals Unitemized 63,592.88
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 819,224.03 / 1,190,275.05
Political Party Commitees 178.41 / 273.23
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 219,700.00 / 395,700.00
Total Contributions 1,039,102.44 / 1,586,248.28
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 0.00 / 178.23
Other Receipts 1,1105.79 / 31,101.68
Total Receipts 1,050,208.23 / 1,617,528.19
Operating Expenditures 124,898.87 / 413,169.76
Refunds of Contributions To:
Individuals/Persons Other Than Political Committees 1,000.00 / 10,780.00
Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 0.00 / 1,461.71
Total Contribution Refunds 1,000.00 / 12,241.71
Other Disbursements 0.00 / 5,000.00
Total Disbursements 125,898.87,/,43,0411.47
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 3,343,701.22
Total Receipts This Period 1,050,208.23 / 1,617,528.19
Subtotal 4,393,909.45
Total Disbursements This Period 125,898.87 / 430,411.47
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 4,268,010.58

This report is not arranged alphabetically or chronologically but is simply scrambled. First are a random arrangement of straight donations, then scrambled donations via ActBlue and similar options, then PACs. So this number is very rough but I counted 63 newly maxed out contributors. Among his notable contributors are Richard Mellon Scaife of Pittsburgh, newspaper publisher and Clinton bête noire, and novelist John Grisham, both of him donated as much as legally allowed. Other names on his list are Pasquale Croce, and George Cornelius, secretary of the PA DECD. Two officials at the San Francisco Zoo made donations. Along with the usual doctors lawyers and Indian chiefs there were a handful of filmmakers and a noticeable number of academics, as well as some architects, an electrician (not THAT one, just a regular electrician), and some other regular folks. Sestak keeps his disbursements low. There are five paid staffers, and some health insurance payments; two if not three of the staffers are siblings of the candidate. His brother is paid nearly 6K a month for campaign work. However, there are no pricey consultants. One unusual note -- $1800 for a San Francisco resident for catering. His rent prices tend to be a little high, $4500 a month.

8th Congressional District

No Republicans have formally announced for this race. Tom Manion who ran against Murphy in 2008 has filed a termination report and closed the financial aspect of his campaign

Patrick Murphy, Incumbent Democrat (elected 2006)

Individual Itemized 319,485.30
Individual Unitemized 22,678.00
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 342,163.30 / 569,399.81
PACS 127,250.00 / 264,800.00
Total Contributions 469,413.30 / 834,199.810.00
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 2,296.80 / 4,915.88
Other Receipts 88.56 / 269.08
Total Receipts 471,798.66 839,384.77
Operating Expenditures 246,082.87 / 706,426.53
Other Disbursements 20,050.00 / 20,050.00
Total Disbursements 266,132.87 / 726,676.53
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 254,094.98
Total Receipts This Period 471,798.66 / 839,384.77
Subtotal 725,893.64
Total Disbursements This Period 266,132.87 / 726,676.53
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 459,760.77

Murphy’s reports are a pleasure to deal with. The contributions record is extremely transparent, arranged alphabetically. There are 13 newly maxed out contributors. No names jumped out at me (though one occupation did). Murphy’s itemized contributors represent a broad spectrum and it is just a guess going by names and locations but it looks like a lot of small businesses in the area support him. Most of the contributors are from in state. The cute puppy photo of Murphy’s dog on his congressional website might be paying off – there were donations from two people at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. A few soldiers, who are generally not well paid, thought enough of him to send in donations. He also made an impression on the literary agent who handled his autobiography, Taking the Hill, as she is a regular donor to his campaign. In PAC donations there were a number from the health care field and some sizeable donations from the IBEW. In disbursements, seven employees are listed and there are payments for health insurance. He lists nearly $15K in taxes and $1300 in legal fees. He paid off two vendors, $36K to Squier Knapp Dunn for media and $39K to Stones Phones. Sutters Mill, a DC based fundraising consulting firm received around $25K, two other funraising consultants received a total of $6K. He paid $4300 for his website which looks to me exactly the same as it has for the last year. The might need to turn off the lights as they leave the room as there were nearly $8 in utilities. The Hyatt Regency received $5700 for catering. The Murphy campaign divested some questioned donations by donating to a number of charities. He also contributed to Dan McCaffrey’s Philadelphia DA campaign. The only remaining debt is one that has been lingering for some time, for a copier machine lease.

13th Congressional District

Allyson Schwartz, Incumbent District (elected 2004)

Individual Itemized 288,592.31
Individual Unitemized 22,279.98
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 310,872.29 / 570,430.480.00
Political Party Commitees 18.86 / 77.74
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 153,373.26 / 282,873.260.00
Total Contributions 464,264.41 / 853,381.480.00
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 726.34 / 726.34
Other Receipts 8,586.10 / 23,087.82
Total Receipts 473,576.85 / 877,195.64
Operating Expenditures / 85,686.27 / 242,046.91
Refunds to Individuals/Persons 175.00 / 1,175.00
Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 1,000.00 / 1000.00
Total Contribution Refunds 1,175.00 / 2,175.00
Other Disbursements 1,475.00 / 12,0955.00
Total Disbursements 88,336.27 / 365,176.910.00
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 2,146,271.25
Total Receipts This Period 473,576.85 / 877,195.64
Subtotal 2,619,848.10
Total Disbursements This Period 88,336.27 / 365,176.91
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 2,531,511.83

Schwartz’s reports are also a pleasure to work with, very transparent and neatly arranged. She has four newly maxed out contributors. Along with the usual array of occupations, there are a noticeable number of people from health care administration and the financial sector. This is represented in the PAC donations as well. While her support is national, most donations are from in-state. In disbursements two employees are listed, along with health insurance payments. A DC fundraiser was paid 10K. She has a new firm for phone (robocalls and teletownhall meetings, not regular phone stuff) which received $10K as well. The campaign paid 6K to the Radisson Hotel in Philadelphia which was probably for her annual women in politics event. Other than her impressive numbers there’s nothing of note here. Move along.

Damian Dachowski, Republican challenger

To make things simpler since Dr. Dachowski (a dentist) got into the campaign late in the quarter, let me just list his numbers. The campaign raised $13,537.16, spent $4,3520.6, for a cash on hand amount of $9,340.39.

Most of the itemized contributions and the disbursements are in-kind, often the same thing listed in both places. I wonder if an amendment is in the offing. Most of the in-kind disbursements are from the candidate.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Other Pennsylania Notables

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new head of the Dept. of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration is Pennsylvania native Joseph A. Main ("New Course in Labor Appointees," by Melanie Trottman 7/20)

On the other side of the occupational universe I ran across something interesting this week. Science fiction / sword and sorcery fans might be familiar with Boris Vallejo whose artwork has been featured on many a paperback cover. He and his wife Julie Bell, also an artist, live near Allentown. They publish a calendar every year so if you see a calendar full of muscular warriors and buxom women wearing skimpy chain mail, it could originate right here in the commonwealth.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two Possible Congressional Challengers

The races are starting to line up, sort of, in a way....

There are reports that Bethlehem mayor John Callahan, a Democrat, will run against 15gh district Congressman Charlie Dent. (See "Callahan to challenge Dent, sources say," by Josh Dronyk, Morning Call 7/22)

In the 13th Republican Damian Dachowski, a is taking on Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. (see note on

Two Notes from Ceasefire PA

CeasefirePA has started sending me updates on legislation and I'm passing a couple of them on to you.

One item concerned a lawsuit in Pittsburgh on reporting lost or stolen handguns. Several Philadelphia area legislators would like to see a similar law in this area:

A victory for other PA cities that have passed lost or stolen handgun ordinances

PITTSBURGH – Today, the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas allowed Pittsburgh’s lost or stolen handgun reporting ordinance to stand, rejecting a challenge by the gun lobby and resulting in yet another win for a growing statewide coalition of Mayors, City Councils, law enforcement officials, and citizens who have taken action to pass this common sense reform into law.

Judge Stanton Wettick dismissed the NRA lawsuit filed against the City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh City Council, and Mayor Ravenstahl, ruling the NRA-backed plaintiffs lacked legal standing to challenge the ordinance because they had not suffered any actual harm. Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields said, "I wish the NRA would find a way to work constructively with the citizens of this country to protect people from injury and death. You can't just come to court because the legislative body does something you don't like."

Secondly, they would like us all to know that while Sen. Arlen Specter voted against the Thune Amendment (the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, S. 845/Thune Amendment, our other senator, Bob Casey, Jr., voted for it. The amendment would have allowed those granted a permit to carry a concealed weapon in one state to carry it in all states. Currently states make those agreements amongst themselves.

I have a few qualms about people wandering around carrying guns, unless their job requires it of them. There is the argument that if more people were armed there would be less crime but that really is incumbent on the shooter being well-trained and able to hit what he or she aims at. In stressful moments there is ample opportunity for bullets to go astray, especially in heavily populated areas. We've seen examples of this in Philadelphia all too often. It worries me also on public transit where there's no opportunity to get out of the way. Firefights between well-meaning but untrained and frightened citizens, and anyone perceived as threatening, are likely to lead to disaster for bystanders.

Altmire To Hold Grants Workshops

Taking a page from Allyson Schwartz's playbook, 4th district Congressman Jason Altmire is holding a series of grants workshops over the next few months, in Mars, Springdale, and Beaver Falls.

Schwartz's workshops have generated a lot of interest on this side of the state, and sitemeter tells me that a lot of people are looking for information like this. Hopefully Altmire's will be just as successful.

A list of workshops, dates, and places is on Altmire's congressional website.

And a big howdy to a former Philly area blogger who relocated to that area a few years ago. Hope all is well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sestak Conference Call

Congressman Joe Sestak held a media conference call today. These are my rough notes. It is not intended as a transcript. I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions. I am hitting the broader points; your local newspaper may have items specific to where you live.

In his opening remarks he talked about his visit to all 67 Pennsylvania counties in three weeks. On his travels he said he met wonderful people who are terribly challenged and concerned for the commonwealth; there is a reluctant acceptance that the federal government will have to do much to take us into the future. People generally don’t know Sestak outside his congressional district but he said he found great acceptance and interest and a reservoir of query that can be raised into asking if there is anyone else [implied meaning – besides Specter to run for Senate].

There were a number of questions. I’ll hit the main topics and his responses to each. Some questions were raised more than once, in different ways or with a varying nuance.

Has he formally announced his Senate run or filed papers for a Senate campaign?

No, but he is running and is going to win. At one point he said he wanted to spend time with his daughter before going out on the campaign trail and have a final conversation with his family. To answer another question he said that before he announced he wanted to visit all 67 counties. This is similar to something he did in the Navy, going to all the ships he would have command over before taking command.

While these visits were short, he did make a point of meeting with the print media and the head of the Democratic party or a representative in each county. Sometimes he met with just one party official but in another he met with 180 people. This was a courtesy visit and he intends to go back to county fairs, etc., in August and September.

Senator Menendez of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee contacted him in February about running but he was not interested. Menendez got back in touch in April. He knows that Patrick Murphy and Josh Shapiro were also approached. There should be a choice.

Is he worried his House seat will be won by a Republican?

“If we only let those in safe seats run for higher office where will the audacity come from?” He cites not having to spend a dime on media buys for his second House campaign because his constituents knew him. His office is open 7 days a week until 10 at night or later. If another Democrat is willing to work that hard then a Democrat will win. Specter can run for his seat if he wants.

Campaign matters

His legislative spokesman is now working half time for the congressional office and half time for the campaign. He ran this by the ethics office some time ago and got the okay.

In response to a question as to whether the campaign has gotten very personal very early he said we should ask Arlen about that as he, Sestak, had only been in politics for about three years.

Recent polls showing him trailing Specter and Toomey reflect his lack of name recognition more than anything else. There is a lot of room to grow. He then compared himself to Ned Lamont as far as early polling goes.

In response to criticism about his poor record of voting before he ran for office, he said you could not count primary elections as he was not registered in a party and therefore could not vote in primaries and that while in the Navy he asked for absentee ballots that were not always counted. As a jab at Specter he said Specter had been in favor of a bill to help fix the military absentee ballot process.

On Specter and other issues

When asked about missing House votes to campaign he said the one vote that should be missed is Specter’s, given how often he voted with Bush. He also said that he had missed procedural votes but not important votes and that on one particular day there were an unusually large number of votes that later had to be revoted on so it looks like he missed more than he actually did. Sens. Obama and Clinton also missed votes while campaigning but that was perceived as being for the greater good.

As to why it would be better to be a senator than a congressman he said that one senator has so much more impact than a congressman. As an example he mentioned the Thune amendment

He said often that his initial inspiration to run for congress was to repay the health care his daughter received when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He also said that politics was his passion and his conviction not a career.

On Health Care

Doing nothing is not an option, delaying means harming out health and economy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Money Magazine on Proposed Health Care Legislation

Those curious about what is in the proposed health care legislation and how it might affect them will enjoy reading an article posted online by Money Magazine "What health reform means for you," by Jeanne Sahadi 7/21.

Remember that Money is no liberal rag. It is fairly even-keeled and conservative enough that John McCain bought (or borrowed) their mailing list during the presidential campaign. I know this because we received mail from him with the same typo in the address that our Money magazine address label has.

The article is, necessarily, brief but will dispel several misconceptions about what will happen under the plan being prepared. If you currently have insurance through your job, you will not lose it. Only the very wealthy would pay any surcharge:

The House bill calls for a surtax on high-income earners -- starting at $280,000 for singles and $350,000 for married couples. The surtax would run as high as 5.4% on income over $1 million.

But on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi let it be known that she may push to increase those thresholds so the surtax would only affect individuals making at least $500,000 and couples making $1 million or more.

None of the people I come into contact with on a daily basis earn anywhere near that much money.

It's a short, informative article. Well worth a read.

Specter to Oppose Thune Amendment

You may have read in the Inky this morning about a bill in Congress that would allow a person who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in one state to legally carry it in all states. Currently each state is allowed to issue it's own permits. The proposed change would allow people to shop for states with the most lenient regulations. Pennsylvania's gun laws are already lax enough; we don't need trouble from other states.

Sen. Specter has announced that he will oppose this legislation. There is still no word from Sen. Casey.

From Specter's website:

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) today issued the following statement regarding Senator John Thune’s (R-S.D.) amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (S. 1390) that would provide for reciprocity of permits and licenses to carry a concealed firearm for individuals traveling across state lines.

“From my own experience growing up in Kansas and being District Attorney of Philadelphia, I know states need to prescribe their own rules for carrying a concealed deadly weapon. This is the essence of federalism. My vote against the Thune Amendment will not limit the constitutional rights of hunters and gun owners. Pennsylvania already recognizes concealed carry permits from 24 other states where their laws are similar.”

Boatload of Money for Airport

From the inbox:

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today announced that Philadelphia International Airport will receive $724,694 under the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

“The Recovery Act was put in place quickly to rescue the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression and rebuild it for a stronger future,” said Secretary LaHood. “Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is a key part of that prescription for strength. It creates jobs today and builds a better, more sustainable economy moving forward.”

“Through the Recovery Act, we are creating jobs in Philadelphia and across the country while investing in the long-term safety and economic vitality of our airports,” said Secretary LaHood.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will provide $724,694 to the City of Philadelphia for the Philadelphia International Airport to rehabilitate Runway 8R/27L.

The FAA is moving swiftly to work with airport sponsors to ensure that eligible projects have completed or nearly completed, design and planning requirements. Under the ARRA, the FAA received $1.1 billion to provide discretionary grants to qualified airports. That funding has been allocated based on a project priority system that addresses airport safety and security, infrastructure, runway safety, increased capacity, and mitigation of environmental impacts.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has made $48.1 billion available for highway, road, transit, bridge and airport construction and repairs nationwide, including $19 billion that has already been obligated to fund more than 5,300 projects in 55 U.S. states and territories. Currently, more than 1,900 transportation projects, using $6.4 billion in Recovery Act funds are underway across the country.

About 3,400 airports designated as part of the national airport system are eligible to receive ARRA dollars.

Grants for Job Training

From the inbox, slightly altered:

During a visit to the Shawnee County [KS] Community Health Center as a stop on the Obama administration’s Rural Tour, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced a $220 million competition to fund projects that prepare workers for careers in the health care and other high-growth industries.

“An important part of our nation’s continued economic recovery is ensuring that workers have the necessary skills to enter high growth industries,” said Secretary Solis. “Health care continues to offer workers opportunities to enter career-track jobs, earn good wages and make a positive impact on the communities in which they live and work.”

The competition announced today will result in grants to fund public entities and private nonprofit organizations to train individuals for careers in the health care fields of nursing, allied health, long-term care and health information technology. Training also will be provided for careers in other growing industries based on specific regional needs. Approximately $25 million of total funds will be reserved for projects serving communities impacted by automotive industry restructuring.

[deleted paragraph]

Grants awarded through this competition will be funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). In an effort to earn the maximum return on each investment, the Labor Department is encouraging prospective grantees to align their proposals with other federal agencies’ Recovery Act investments intended to create jobs and promote economic growth. Projects funded through these grants will be conducted in partnership with the public workforce system in order to prepare workers to enter careers in targeted industries.

A notice of the grant solicitation appears in today’s edition of the Federal Register and is also available at and For more information on the array of Department of Labor employment and training investments and opportunities, visit

National Urban Conversation Comes to Philly

Adapted from the inbox:

Later this week, Philadelphia will be the site of the first leg of the National Conversation on Urban and Metropolitan America as officials from the Obama Administration meet to hear about local efforts to provide fresh, quality food in low-income communities. Adolfo Carrion, Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs, with a few cabinet secretaries in tow, will come to town to learn about Philadelphia's Fresh Food Initiative.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Obama's Blogger Conference Call on Health Care

Sometimes amazing things happen. Your humble blogger was invited to be part of a blogger conference call today with Pres. Obama, David Axelrod and Nancy Ann DeParle, to talk about health care. No one would think it odd if you paused for a moment to question the rightness of this, whether the leader of the free world should take time out of his day to talk on the phone with bloggers and whether or not I should be included in the grouping.

The call started out with remarks by the President, followed by about 15 minutes of questions and answers. The President signed off but Axelrod and DeParle stayed for another half hour answering more questions. An audio recording of the call is available. Bloggers at mydd (Jonathan Singer), crooks and liars (John Amato), huffington post (Sam Stein), americablog (Joe Sudbay), and our own Pennsylvania Progressive (John Morgan), (who all asked questions) have posted their impressions. Some of those posts have links to other posts on the call.

Since others have provided audio or written rough transcript I'm going to just give some specific points from the call:

* just keep the pressure on members of Congress, There is a default position of inertia, pushing against that, the desperation that ordinary families are feeling every day. People have to feel that in a visceral way.

*confident that this can be achieved on the suggested timeline. Using the reconciliation process is not optimal, but the important thing is to pass the legislation. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

* the House and Senate bills won't be the same and the conference committee will have difficult and lengthy work to do, but they will agree on 80% of things

* Sen DeMint has said that he just wants to delay and delay and eventually use this issue as the GOP's waterloo, to break Obama

* What you are seeing right now is really hard work on the part of the finance committee. Remain confident we can pass a bill. Give the American people a serious reform package that lowers cost increases coverage in a way that is rational and makes our health care system smarter.

* for us to have the American Medical Association, the nurse's assoc, the hospitals assoc and even pharma and large employers like Wal-Mart, I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of this in helping us get things done.

* Speaking for the Obama admin, I've committed myself consistently, if you have health insurance that you like and a doctor that you like you can keep it. I won’t sign a bill that would make it tougher for people to get health insurance. If current trends continue more and more people will lose their health care and more and more people will pay more for their health care.

* Does this cover all Americans, does it drive down costs in public and private sector, does it include quality, emphasis prevention and wellness, package of insurance reform, preexisting conditions, relief for small business, serious public option in place -- these are the items wanted

* eager to spread the word, frustrating that coverage focuses on trees and not forest. The president articulated where he is and where he’s driving, laid out the parameters that are important for him. Important for you guys to spread the word. Seen health care premiums rise much faster than wages. Saw today Michael Steele say under the Obama plan people would pay more for less, that’s what’s happening every day already.

* Over the weekend we saw Sen DeMint say the goal is to delay process to kill it “we can break him with this” there are millions of Americans breaking every single day. That’s what we are concerned about.

* Here in Washington the president always likes to say they have a scorekeeper's mentality, who’s up, who's down, like it’s a game, forcus on trees not forest. What we’re trying to stress is the other side is using a scare tactic, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. what we have know is unsustainable. We can’t go with 10 or 12 or 14K people a day losing their health insurance. We have a health care system right now that works well for insurance companies and drug companies but not so well for individuals or small businesses being crushed by the costs. The thing you can communicate is this sense of urgency. The program that the president will ultimately sign will make the whole system work better, more transparency, really bring about reform.

* We are closer today than we have ever been to achieving comprehensive health care reform. We have some agreement on 70% of issues. We didn’t arrive on Capital Hill in January with stone tablets and ask people to swear fidelity. Nancy Ann and her team working closely with Congress from the beginning. Haven’t tried to dictate. Had we done that we would not be in the position to achieve what we are now.

* We expect the bill he signs to have a public option choice.

John Morgan brought up the issue of single payer and the effort to have that in Pennsylvania.

The president was very friendly and welcoming but clearly interested in and informed about the topic. He is hoping people will keep up the pressure on Congress to pass a bill. Axelrod and DeParle were also friendly and unassuming. It was a real pleasure to be included on the call.

A Health Care Miscellany

Assorted items from the inbox and elsewhere:

For your viewing pleasure, some videos:

A clip of RNC Chairman Michael Steele discussing the Obama health care proposal and the GOP alternative at today's National Press Club

The President's remarks from today's forum from the Children's National Medical Center, a roundtable discussion with health insurance providers

Today Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz was scheduled to hold a press conference:

top officials from southeastern Pennsylvania hospitals, and leading health care advocates will host a major press conference on the importance of reforming America’s health care system. Schwartz and others will talk about the need for Congress to pass legislation that contains costs and expands access to affordable, stable coverage for all Americans.

As a national leader on health care and a key member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Schwartz is playing an instrumental role in the health reform debate. In addition to discussing health reform broadly, Schwartz will also talk about the vital need for reform to include increased access to primary care providers and strengthened consumer protections, both of which are key to improving the quality, efficiency and cost of care for all Americans.

Scheduled to appear with Schwartz:

Dr. Donald Schwarz, Deputy Mayor, Health & Opportunity Health Commissioner, City of Philadelphia

Ralph Muller, CEO, University of Pennsylvania Health System

Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, President-elect, National Physicians Alliance

Meg McGoldrick, Chief Operating Officer, Abington Memorial Hospital

Sue Schrand, Executive Director, PA Coalition of Nurse Practitioners

Dr. Richard Wender, Alumni Professor and Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University

Roosevelt Hairston, Senior Vice-President, Government Affairs, Community Relations & Advocacy, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Ed Notebaert, President and CEO for Temple Health System and VP for Health Science Temple University

Mark Bullock, Senior VP of Legal and Government Affairs, Nazareth Hospital, a member of Mercy Health System

Letty Thall, Public Policy Director, Maternity Care Coalition

Tanisha Belton, Family Advocate, Maternity Care Coalition, Family Advocate.

Chris Holt, Vice President of Marketing and Public Affairs, Holy Redeemer

Bill Ryan, Director of Government Grants and Contracts, Albert Einstein Healthcare Network

Susan Tofani, Senior Vice President - Clinical Services and Business Development, Fox Chase Cancer Center

PA American College of Physicians representatives

Marc Stier, State Director, PA Health Care for American Now

Shelly Yanoff, Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY)

Unfortunately, fire alarms disrupted the proceedings shortly after the press conference got started (see details on this at pa2010.

Fed Funding for PA Energy Program

From the inbox:

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced
$39.8 million in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Pennsylvania. Under DOE’s State Energy Program, Pennsylvania proposed a statewide plan that prioritizes energy savings, creates or retains jobs, increases the use of renewable energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Secretary Chu today announced a total of more than $162 million for State Energy Programs in seven states and territories states including: Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico. Each grantee is receiving 40 percent of its total State Energy Program (SEP) funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This funding will provide an important boost for state economies, help to put Americans back to work, and move us toward energy independence," said Secretary Chu. "It reflects our commitment to support innovative state and local strategies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy while insisting that taxpayer dollars be spent responsibly."

With today's announcement, Pennsylvania will now have received 40 percent of its total State Energy Program (SEP) funding authorized under the Recovery Act. Pennsylvania will now have received 50 percent of its total Recovery Act SEP funding. The initial 10 percent of total funding was previously available to support planning activities; the remaining 50 percent of funds will be released the state meets reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act. After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, Pennsylvania will receive nearly $50 million in additional funding, for a total of almost $100 million.

Pennsylvania will use its Recovery Act SEP funding to provide grants and other support for energy efficiency and conservation efforts with the goal of reducing dependence on fossil fuels and stimulating growth in renewable sectors.

Pennsylvania Green Energy Works! will offer grants to businesses, non-profit organizations, universities, local governments, and utilities to deploy shovel-ready efficient, environmentally sustainable and economically worthwhile energy projects across the state. Over a longer time horizon, Pennsylvania will continue to fund advanced energy projects, tailoring programs to specific economic sectors. For example, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority will continue to serve business needs, while the Pennsylvania Energy Harvest will support schools, nonprofits, and local governments across Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania will also establish a Green Development Loan Program, a revolving loan fund that will provide clean-energy and energy-efficiency financing for facilities projects, resource efficiency measures, and advanced and renewable clean-energy technologies. In addition to originating loans and leveraging private capital, this fund will make outright awards to cover the costs of project feasibility studies, energy audits, or project design, which can often present significant barriers to sustainable development investments.

Activities eligible for State Energy Program funding include energy audits, building retrofits, education and training efforts, transportation programs to increase the use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles, and new financing mechanisms to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.

The Recovery Act appropriated $3.1 billion to the State Energy Program (SEP) to help promote energy efficiency and clean energy deployment, as well as to support local economic recovery. States use these grants at the state and local level to create green jobs and address state energy priorities.

Transparency and accountability are important priorities for SEP and all Recovery Act projects. Throughout the program’s implementation, DOE will provide strong oversight at the local, state, and national level, while emphasizing with states the need to quickly award funds to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reading Campaign Finance Reports

I've been slogging through the 2nd quarter FEC reports on congressional candidates (

Dan at has asked people to review the campaign finance reports of their state level candidates as well. You can look at those at

In the meantime keep up with all the state budget negotiations by following Capitol Ideas on twitter:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pike Endorsement Scorecard

For those wishing to keep track, here is a list of elected officials and luminaries who had endorsed Doug Pike's candidacy for the 6th congressional district, currently held by Jim Gerlach.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13)
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-08)
State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware Counties)
State Representative Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery County)
Berks County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt
Berks County Recorder of Deeds Frederick Sheeler
Montgomery County Coroner Walter Hofman, M.D.
Former U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial Candidate Lynn Yeakel
Former Montgomery County Commissioner Ruth Damsker

Murphy was added to the list yesterday, Schwartz today. What will the weekend hold?

For more on Pike see "Pennsylvania: Gerlach Move Sets Off Scramble in 6th District," by Shira Toeplitz in today's Roll Call.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Info on New Health Care BIll

Yesterday I posted a note on a new health insurance bill. If you want to investigate it more fully, here is the basic info from More information is available at that site.

Title: To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Dingell, John D. [MI-15] (introduced 7/14/2009) Cosponsors (6)
Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Education and Labor, Oversight and Government Reform, and the Budget, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Endorsement Updates

A few endorsement updates:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has endorsed Pat Toomey as the GOP candidate for senate, a position previously held by now Democratic senator Arlen Specter. (See "NRSC Backs Toomey in Pennsylvania," by Shira Toeplitz, Roll Call 7/14).

Today Congressman Patrick Murphy endorsed Doug Pike for the 6th congressional district, which will be an open seat now that Rep. Jim Gerlach has announced he will run for governor instead of seeking reelection. (See "Murphy endorses Pike in PA-6" at

PA Dems,Taking Names

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is collecting signatures (and comments, keep it clean, please) encouraging the House and Senate GOP to work with the Dems to get a workable budget that doesn't shortchange school kids.

Sign up at:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pick a Peck of PA PACS

The budget circus has made my brain hurt, so, like many of you, I have sought comfort in Latin translation and FEC reports.

As it turns out many of our federal elected officials have affiliated political action committees. Some are leadership pacs; I don't know what you would call the other ones.

You can find details on these committees as well as their financial reports on At some point in the future I hope to have more detailed posts on some of the ones connected geographically to the Philly suburbs.

Here you go, in the order I scribbled them down on the back of an envelope:


Bob Casey -- Keystone America PAC
Arlen Specter -- Big Tent PAC*


Paul Kanjorski -- Citizens for Action
Patrick Murphy -- Taking the Hill PAC
Joe Pitts -- JoePAC
Bob Brady -- 1776 Leadership PAC
Joe Sestak -- Deep Blue
Allyson Schwartz -- We the People PAC
Bill Shuster -- Bill PAC
John Murtha -- Majority PAC
Charlie Dent -- Dent PAC
Jim Gerlach -- Keystone PAC

There may be others that I missed.

Should this not provide sufficient entertainment value, you might be amused to find out that the Show-Me PAC Fund is now based in Pennsylvania. Perhaps we can balance the state budget by taxing Missourians. The prize for the strangest PA PAC name, though, has to go to the Society for Relief of Distressed and Decayed Pilots Political Action Committee. As far as I could see from a cursory look, it doesn't have a political connection, but you have to admit that the thought of decayed pilots lobbying for something is unusual at best. Try not to think of distressed and decayed pilots next time you board a plane.

* It will be interesting to see what short of whiplash this pac goes through now that the senator has switched parties.

Rendell to Edit Magazine Issue

In a blogger version of the Circle of Life, this afternoon I wrote a note on twitter rephrasing a tweet I had read, which was picked up by Capital Ideas, and now I am posting a full blog entry on it. Everyone feel free to hum the song from "Lion King."

The note that started it all, from FishbowlDC, states that Gov. Mike Huckabee and Gov. Ed Rendell have agreed to guest edit issues of Politics Magazine. Huckabee is slated to be Mr. October; Rendell some time after that.

Capital Ideas picks up on the irony of Rendell sitting behind the editor's desk instead of yelling at the editor:

He's never been shy about picking up the phone to scream about what he believes to be an unfair story or dressing down a reporter at a news conference. In fact, he once asked a reporter at This Very Newspaper whether it was "edited by penguins." The answer was, of course, "No," because awkward, flightless waterfowl are more often found in state government.

When I saw the penguins comment my first thought was that the governor though the paper was edited by nuns.

In any event, I look forward to the issue. In the past few months the magazine has had articles on dumpster diving (actually it was on opposition research) and how to effectively work a July 4th parade (they did not have my twitter note that female candidates should not wear tank tops if they can't keep track of their straps). It will be interesting to see what Rendell can solicit from his large circle of friends in the political industry.

Schwartz on Health Care Bill

From the inbox:

Today, Democrats in Congress introduced America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, comprehensive health reform legislation. This legislation was developed from the three committees of jurisdiction, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor. These three panels with jurisdiction over health policy have worked jointly to develop a single bill that fulfills President Obama’s goals of establishing a uniquely American solution to health reform.

As a Member of the Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Rep. Schwartz (PA-13) played a significant role in drafting this legislation over the last months, including working to ensure that health reform legislation is built on American assets of innovation, competition, public-private choices, and shared responsibility. Schwartz is a leading centrist Democrat, serving as vice chair of the New Democratic Coalition, and co-chairing the Coalition’s Health Care Task Force.

“The introduction of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act marks tremendous progress toward meaningful health care reform for Americans. This plan sets the right course for creating a uniquely American solution to health reform that contains costs and achieves access to affordable, stable coverage for all Americans,” said U.S. Rep. Schwartz. “Reform must be fiscally responsible, contain health care costs, protect and increase consumers’ choices, strengthen coverage stability, and guarantee access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz authored core provisions included in the House’s legislation to increase access to primary care and strengthen consumer protections in the private market, both of which are key to improving the quality, efficiency and cost of care, and improving health outcomes.

Specifically, these provisions will increase the number of primary care doctors and nurses, increase reimbursement for primary care, and improve continuity of care for patients. Co-payments for prevention and primary care for Medicare beneficiaries will be eliminated. Market reform provisions authored by Schwartz will substantially benefit American consumers, both those currently with coverage and those who are uninsured or under-insured. Schwartz successfully included in the bill provisions ensuring that insurance companies would no longer be permitted to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions and will be required to explain coverage in plain language.

Economic competitiveness for American businesses, large and small, requires action to level the playing field, provide fairness in financing, and reduce the rate of cost growth in health care. To support small businesses, Schwartz advanced provisions to assist small businesses with tax credits for health benefits and enable them to participate at reduced levels in health reform if they do not provide benefits.

“As Members of Congress, we all have a shared responsibility to the American public to find ways to contain health care costs for families, businesses and the government, while ensuring that every American has access to affordable, meaningful coverage,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz added, “The current status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable. Health reform is both a moral and an economic imperative, and now is the time to act.”

Thomas ( doesn't have the bill listed yet but it should be there tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

PA Colleges and Veterans

One more from the inbox:

Eighty-nine colleges, universities and schools across Pennsylvania have entered into Yellow Ribbon Program agreements with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve financial aid for veterans participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.

Over 3,400 agreements were received from the 1,100 schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program. “This is a strong response to a new benefit,” said Keith Wilson, Director of VA’s Education Service. “We are pleased so many institutions are supporting our Veterans.”

“The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an important part of fulfilling our promise to the men and women who have served our country so honorably. Implementing this landmark legislation and providing even more veterans with a quality education is a top priority for the VA, and we are grateful so many schools are joining us as partners in this unprecedented effort,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said.

A list of Pennsylvania schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program can be found here:

The Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, funds tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate. Institutions can contribute up to 50 percent of those expenses, and VA will match this additional funding for eligible students.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is reserved for those Veterans eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 100 percent benefit level. This includes those who served at least 36 months on active duty or served at least 30 continuous days and were discharged due to a service-related injury.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, passed by Congress last year, is the most extensive educational assistance program authorized since the original GI Bill was signed into law in 1944.

The maximum benefit allows every eligible Veteran, servicemember, reservist, and National Guard member an opportunity to receive an in-state, undergraduate education at a public institution at no cost.

Provisions of the program include payments for tuition and fees, housing, and a books and supplies stipend. Benefits are payable for training pursued on or after August 1, 2009. The tuition and fee benefit is paid directly to the school.

Additional information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, as well as VA’s other educational benefit programs, can be obtained by visiting VA’s Web site

Girls Rule II: Kathy Dahlkemper Plays Ball

Florida's Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has started a bipartisan women's softball team, which will play against staffers from national partisan organizations such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with proceeds going to charity.

One of Pennsylvania's two women congressional representatives, Kathleen Dahlkemper, is on the team. No word on whether or not lanky Rep. Allyson Schwartz will join the outfield.

For details see "A League of Their Own," by Anne Schroeder Mullins on Politco.

Girls Rule I: An All Female Hearing

From Politico's Shenanigans blog, July 9th:

Yesterday in the House Rules committee people took notice of something somewhat different: everyone involved was a woman.

Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter was speaking to two witnesses: Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman and ranking member of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee.

Slaughter noted: "This is the first time that the chairman and ranking member are women."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Let Them Serve

Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-08) has taken over a lead sponsor of HR 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would remove the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. You can read more about this at

Or, if you are a visual person, you can watch Murphy talk with Wolf Blitzer about it, in a video from this morning's State of the Union show. (h/t db)

Two Campaign / Blogging Resources

A few items that have dropped over the transom lately.

Candidates and campaign staffers can receive a 3 month free subscription to Politics Magazine. Not being one of the lucky few I pay to read it online. It's interesting.

For those who produce online content and are curious about syndication, Newstex, the fine people who syndicate this blog, have prepared a 25 page guide to blog syndication.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

PA Teachers Given Presidential Award

Among the individuals receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching this year are:

Anne Magaha, Rydal, PA

Swine Flu Funding for PA

From the inbox:

One day after hosting a summit on the 2009 novel H1N1 flu with representatives from state, tribal, territorial and local governments from across the country, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the availability of $14,320,340 in grants to help Pennsylvania prepare for the 2009 novel H1N1 flu virus and the fall flu season. The grants were funded by the recent supplemental appropriations bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 24, 2009.

“With flu season around the corner, we must remain vigilant and do all we can to prepare our nation and protect public health,” said Secretary Sebelius. “These grants will give states valuable resources to step up their flu preparedness efforts.”

Pennsylvania is eligible to receive $10,642,275 in Public Health Emergency Response grants and $3,678,065 in Hospital Preparedness grants. A total of $260 million in Public Health Emergency Response Grants and $90 million in Hospital Preparedness grants will be distributed nationwide.

Public Health Emergency Response grants help state public health departments perform a variety of functions, including preparing for potential vaccination campaigns, implementing strategies to reduce people’s exposure to the 2009 novel H1N1 flu and improving influenza surveillance and investigations.

Hospital Preparedness grants enhance the ability of hospitals and health care systems to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. Local outbreaks of the novel H1N1 virus have produced a surge of patients at hospitals, and these grants will help ensure hospitals are ready for future outbreaks that may impact their community.

In addition to the grants released today, the Obama Administration has taken a series of steps to help prepare and protect the American people from the novel H1N1 flu. In May of this year, HHS distributed 11 million treatment courses of antivirals to states, territories and tribes to fight the H1N1 influenza outbreak. Also in May, HHS invested more than $1 billion to produce bulk supplies of key vaccine ingredients as part of the process to develop and test a potential H1N1 vaccine.

The Administration has upgraded and expanded, which includes guidance that community leaders and the American people need to prepare for, prevent, and respond to the H1N1 flu virus.

The Obama Administration has also launched a new public service announcement competition. Any American can record and submit his or her own public service announcement regarding H1N1 flu preparedness by visiting The entries will be judged by experts and the winner will receive a $2,500 prize and the opportunity to have his or her announcement aired on television across the country.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

PA Public Transit Projects

from the inbox:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that $13.4 million in Recovery Act funds will go to the five public transportation providers in Pennsylvania for transit improvements.

“By quickly moving federal dollars to the cities and towns across the country, we are putting people back to work now and ensuring that our nation will have reliable and efficient transit system for generations to come,” said Secretary LaHood.

The following grants were awarded:

· Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority in Allentown: $7.7 million to fund 17 replacement vans, three 21-foot vans, two 40-foot and three 35-foot hybrid electric buses, and the purchase and installation of a real-time passenger information and AVL system. The grant will also fund pre-fabricated shelters and equipment, bus stop signage, and a state-of-the-art bus maintenance, bus storage, and administration facility at LANTA’s Allentown Operating Headquarters.

· Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority: $1.9 million to purchase six low-floor, 40-foot replacement transit buses with enhanced security measures.

· Transportation and Motor Buses for Public Use Authority in Altoona: $1.5 million to complete major renovations at AMTRAN’s main facility buildings that will include an on-site conference room and training center as well as prepare a site for future joint development use.

· County of Fayette: $923,540 for engineering/design and construction of a transit service center, bus transfer/park and ride facility, and vehicle storage area.

· Cambria County Transit Authority in Johnstown: $1.3 million to renovate the original concrete deck floor of the Transit Center located in downtown Johnstown and to purchase one accessible, 35-foot hybrid-electric bus.

Since President Obama signed ARRA into law on Feb. 17, 2009, 343 grants totaling $3.2 billion have been made available for transit improvements throughout the nation.

“These funds are creating jobs now while investing in the future of our transit systems,” said Administrator Peter Rogoff of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). “The public’s demand for transit service continues to grow, and these dollars will help meet that need.”

Overall, the U.S. Department of Transportation has made $48.1 billion available for highway, road, shipyard, bridge and airport construction and repairs nationwide, including $8.4 billion for transit capital and operating improvements. Currently, about 6,000 transportation projects across the country have been approved.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

An Environmental Miscellany

In sorting through the “to be blogged about” pile I noted these three environmental items and in the interest of efficiency and organization am putting them in one place.

The June 29th issue of the New Yorker has a long profile of Jim Hansen, NASA’s climate expert and director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. This is the guy who created a climate model 30 years ago and has been accurately predicted climate change since then. He is THE climate change guy. According to the article he and his wife own a house in Bucks County where they often spend their weekends.

Hansen might have taken notice of Pennsylvania HB 80 and this July 2nd press release from Bucks County Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-31):

State Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, today successfully amended clean-energy legislation in an effort to reduce carbon emissions from power plants at no additional cost to electric utility ratepayers.

Several environmental advocacy groups, including PennEnvironment, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, Pennsylvania Clean Water Action and Clean Air Council, endorse the language offered by Santarsiero that would remove incentives for coal plants that do not store carbon pollution.

"House Bill 80 advances carbon capture and sequestration technologies, but does so in a way that could incentivize the construction of new coal-fired power plants that never end up sequestering their pollution -- a huge threat to our efforts to combat global warming," said Nathan Willcox, energy and clean air advocate for PennEnvironment.

"Representative Santarsiero is addressing this issue in a way that helps the economy as well as the environment. PennEnvironment applauds the representative for his critical efforts on this legislation," Willcox said.

"Sequestering carbon pollution from coal power plants is a good goal, but we were amazed that legislation was being considered that would result in new coal plants being built, but without requiring sequestration," said Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania state director for Clean Water Action. "Representative Santarsiero should be applauded for his efforts to get those requirements into House Bill 80. His leadership has been essential to ensuring that we move to a clean energy economy."

The bill Santarsiero amended, H.B. 80, would increase Tier I requirements in Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards to 20 percent by 2026. Tier I requirements are the proportion of electricity that electric distribution companies must purchase from renewable sources such as wind and solar energy.

It also would add incentives for new and existing coal-fired power plants that conduct carbon capture and sequestration, which Santarsiero said would prevent the harmful gas from being released into the atmosphere.

Under the language Santarsiero is proposing, coal plants that do not use CCS would not receive alternative energy tax credits in excess of the cost of the carbon dioxide capture equipment installed at the plants.

"With the language I authored, coal-fired energy plants would not be eligible for certain incentives unless they store the carbon dioxide they generate," Santarsiero said.

Santarsiero amended the bill before it was recommitted to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for further review.

And in related news from the irony department, we find in the June 29th Wall Street Journal, “Valero harnesses wind energy to fuel it’s oil-refining process,” by Ana Campoy. Yes, that headline is correct, the Texas company has installed 33 windmills so it can develop its own power source and avoid fluctuating electricity prices and make the oil refinery more economical. It is, indeed, a strange world.

Sad News

Capitol Ideas reports this morning that the 2 year old son of State Rep. Bryan Lentz died yesterday. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers. CI notes:

Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be sent to:

The Joseph Lentz Fund for Pediatric Brain Cancer Research
The Wannamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, 8th Floor, Suite 8050
Philadelphia, Pa., 19107

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Shapiro and Petri on PCN Talking Budget

State Reps Josh Shapiro (D-153) and Scott Petri (R-178) were on the PC Call-In Show on June 29th to discuss the state budget. I taped it and watched it later. These are rough notes from the show, and not presented as a transcript. As usual, my apologies in advance for any errors or misconceptions. Any numbers presented here should especially be double checked. At present you can watch the show via the pcn website ( As for tie notes, Shapiro’s tie was blue, Petri’s burgundy, provided the color on my tv was accurate. Sometimes it isn’t.

Host: Francine Schertzer

Our guests this evening are Scott Petri and Josh Shapiro

JS: we continue to talk a lot and we continue to sharpen our pencils and figure out where our bottom line points are. The important part is getting a good budget passed. Disappointed it won’t be done tomorrow but want to get it done quickly.

SP: discharge motions called, might be necessary, to bring a bill out of committee to force a vote on it.

FS; discharge resolution. How does that work

SP: we haven’t done it for a budget since I’ve been in office sine 2002. 25 members standup and say they want a discharge resolution. The idea is that we need to have a vehicle, a bill to discuss. We are both on committee and spend months discussing the governor’s budget. Here’s the interesting posture, neither of those bills (gov and senate) will ultimately be budget. Senate bill 850 currently out of balance by somewhere around $400 million so there is no bill out there that is constitutionally sufficient to meet the mandates where we are to where we need to be

JS: Every year the gov presents his budget in Feb then the legislature has months to get together in the appropriations committee and we vote in June or July but now less revenue has come in than we expected. Now we have shortfall. How do we work our priorities? We find ourselves having to pare back in meeting the needs of Pennsylvanians. Getting 4 caucuses and governor together to reach an accord under the specter of $3.2 b shortfall. Where do you cut or raise taxes to bring in new revenue

Fs: why no bill on house floor yet?

JS: State Rep Dwight Evans [chair of appropriations committee] doing a great job in giving us the knowledge to make a sound judgment. As to the process I’ll leave that to the chairman. He will bring a bill forward when in has a chance of passing. Find areas of consensus

SP: I echo a lot of what JS has said. It is very interesting. We actually have a very complicated layer. In 2006 we spend around 26B dollars. We have to have a balanced budget. Think about being the person that has the job of projecting the revenue we get this year. Who know. We may pick a number and it may be more revenue than we receive. We have a number from last year. We have proposals and then federal stimulus.

FS: Gov met with legislators what being discussed?

JS: what everyone is trying to do is reach a consenus on number. If priorities exceed revenue what do you cut or raise. In discussions leaders come and meet with us. We discuss.

FS: what number are you comfortable with?

SP: gives a number but worried about revenue. What are rules regarding federal stimulus. Can we spend some of the money earmarked for special education, usually for one time items, for continuing programs and then what happens when fed money gone? If school districts don’t know what money can be spent for, they are in a quandary. How apart are we? Fathoms. Are we going to have tax increases, income tax or sales, only forms of revenue that can generate the kind of money we need

JS: We want to look at responsible spending. Continue to make investment sin public education, health care, long term investments, grow our way out of this.

Caller: cell phones, banning use of hand held cell phones while driving, tractor trailers taxed to drive on highways, why not tax cars by weight as heavier cars use more highways.

JS: working hard on cell phone / texting ban. Last vote came up 3 votes short. As for weight, do require additional licensing, etc on overweight or extra large vehicles

SP: voted with him on cell phone ban and for distracted driver version. Nationally we are going to change the way we fund highways. Highway contactors would like to see gas tax. Less and less money from feds, need new methodologies for highway money. For this year we will spend about same amount as last year but much of that is stimulus. Contractors are big employers. Toll roads a possibility.

Caller: state employee. Went through this last year. Tagged as essential employee. Worried about not being paid.

SP: also concerned. If budget debate is protracted there won’t be monies for nonessential employees. Gov said he wouldn’t furlough workers. At some point state workers won’t be able to get paid and impact on people not showing up for work

JS: we know state workers work hard, unfortunately state employees end up being pawns. Partisan back and forth. Revenues going down and change during negotiations. We want the important work you do to continue.

SP: this isn’t about winners and losers but losers and bigger losers. Some people say we can cut out way out of it but there are consequences of that. We can’t know all the pain that will occur from cuts. Repercussions to our constituents.

FS: question on funding

JS: people probably won’t begin to see a difference until a few weeks and then services people depend on will start to slow or freeze.

Caller: on social security. How about no more raises for you and no more perks. Our mayor in Scranton is spending money to build a treehouse. Stop tax breaks for businesses, etc.

JS: Caller believes government isn’t working for her. Legislators COLAs can’t be turned back but JS donated the COLA money. Bigger issue is sense that govt isn’t working for you. Make sure cuts as compassionate and careful as they can be. We need to think about folks like you when making cuts. Efforts to reform h’burg.

SP: house has eliminated about 30M in cost of running the house and 10M in senate. General govt operations will receive a 12% cut if not deeper. Significant cuts. KOZs and the like. Look at Ireland, had an economic resurgence and still feeling it, copied our tax policy of the 1940s and 1950s.

Caller: is this budget going to affect people in low income housing and medical card. Diabetic.

SP: I don’t think so. That isn’t an area where we will see substantial cuts. The welfare system we have was designed for people like our caller. It’s a security net. Prioritize essential govt services. Usually health and safety. You will probably see substantial cuts in discretionary spending such as museum programs, lupus, cancer research. You may see no funding for a year or so and there are consequences for that. I chair the life sciences caucus and many constituents work in that area. There will be consequences.

JS: state will continue to cover areas of care. Should take care of the least and the last and the lost. With recession and more people in trouble this is eating up more and more of budget. Discretionary money being eaten up by those costs. At the end of the day how much is left over for discretionary spending.

Fs: wams [walking around money]

JS: we should not raise taxes to cover earmarks, wams, discretionary spending. If we are going to raise taxes it should be for people like caller. Lots and lots of discretionary fuding, local firehouse, sports teams, but we should not be raising taxes just to pay for wams.

SP: items in there that are traditionally called wams but not really wams, like clean water fund. Water contamination is essential but technically discretionary money. Can see that fund not being available for a year or two but there are consequences. All levels of govt are out of control for spending. Maybe we need to demonstrate to people that we need to curtail spending but they may have to feel some of the pain related to that. People tell him they want state parks close but not theirs.

Caller: look at what is being abused in what is being cut. Need time to transition as programs are being cut.

SP: agree that just like at home can’t adjust spending quickly. Long way out of this.

JS: technically we are required to pass a budget for one year at a time. Need to be responsible for how we program our dollars. We have to be a little careful about making cuts today and see what pain is and then adjust next year. It is naïve to say there won’t be any pain but we need to be careful.

Caller: federal employee. See pa cars leaving from residence or used for personal uses.

SP: people with state cars keep a log with personal uses noted, and those expenses not taken out. All personal mileage must be paid personally.

Caller: prisoners get paid and corrections officers don’t?

SP: not sure which issue he is speaking of. Say a report but am not sure of the details.

Caller: elected officials lost touch with reality

SP: we’re watching the monthly revenues each month. There is no way in our economy that anyone can say what deficit will be. Prefer to take most conservative approach and have excess money in rainy day approach. Revenues around 26.2B.

Fs: governor mentions tax increase

JS: Rep. Kotik (D-45)? And blue dogs expressing views. What is best product to put out for vote on budget

SP: with numbers we have .5 % would not do the job, would still have to cut 1.5B out. If the shortfall is 3.2, and have tax increase, still have to cut 1.5B. how do you raise taxes to that degree in this economy. .5% PIT puts a lot of people out of work.

Caller: watching dcnr hearings, says 36 million visitors to state parks, people not allowed to talk at public meetings.

JS: there’s a lot to unpack in that call. There’s frustration with waste and abuse in h’burg. Need to make sure state funds are reinvested in taxpayers.

SP: there isn’t a line item for waste and abuse that can easily be cut. We can try to identify it. Don’t want to see people go through pain. Until people see that we have disciplined our own house they will continue to see abuse.

Fs: gov made additional cuts

JS: just brings gov’s proposed budget down to revenue number. A lot of pain in state related colleges and universities. People audit books in legislature. There is a $200M reserve in legislature. This should be reinvested in people of Pennsylvania. Important step.

SP: it helps but it doesn’t bring us closer. Choices the gov has made that not everyone agrees with. In gov’s budget sate related colleges do worse than senate version.

Caller: Marcellus shale. Doesn’t want to see natural gas drilling on state lands. Environmental water disaster

JS: we have an extraordinary amount of natural gas reserves in marcellus shale. Companies go to private landowners and ask if they can drill on their land. Working with Dept / Environmental Protection to make sure being done correctly. Tax would bring in around 170M and more next year. People coming in and using our land and water

SP: state park land. We can really take our time and should to make sure we understand the science behind this. One standard for state lands. Make sure we don’t contaminate ground water.

Caller: article in paper on casino spending

JS: this is why we need campaign finance reform. Wants to see caps in state similar to feds. Rule that you can’t put out no bid contract to someone who donated.


SP: I think it might be a week before we go back to school. Could go all the way through August.

JS: hope that it doesn’t. at the end of the day people will come together. Want to continue to see us sharpen out pencils. See what works and what doesn’t. it has to be done in a way that everyone comes together.