As budget impasse effects continue to be felt, another funding effort fails

As legislators Wednesday learned about the impact of the state budget impasse on schools and the Auditor General continued to provide updates on the costs of the budget impasse to Pennsylvania’s school districts, the Senate failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to override the governor’s veto of a stopgap funding measure passed in September.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee began Wednesday’s budget-related discussions by hearing from schools on the impact of the ongoing state budget.

"Every day, the negative impact on school districts becomes more widespread," said William LaCoff, president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association in written testimony. "In short, many districts are exhausting their options in order to keep the school doors open despite the missing state funds."

Their position was buttressed by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who continued to sound the alarm bell on the amount of borrowing schools are having to do in order to make ends meeting during the now 120-day budget impasse.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
VIDEO: DePasquale gives second update on how budget impasse is impacting schools

VIDEO: DePasquale gives second update on how budget impasse is impacting schools

This afternoon in the Capitol Media Center, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale reported that since 17 school districts and two intermediate units have borrowed more than $346 million since late September, 10 more districts have reported borrowing in October to keep classrooms open. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
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Capitol Quick Hits for 10.27.15

Capitol Quick Hits for 10.27.15

Here are the highlights from news conferences, rallies, and advocacy days held in the Capitol today: 

  • The Pennsylvania Youth Congress held a Pennsylvania Comes Out for Freedom: A National Coming Out Day Celebration in the Main Capitol Rotunda. The group advances freedom and justice for young LGBT Pennsylvanians through advocating for responsible public policy.  
  • PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards was joined by Taiwanese government officials and Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) to preside over a ceremonial signing of a reciprocal driver license agreement between PennDOT and Taiwan. The agreement steamlines the exchange of valid, non-commercial driver’s licenses for applicants from Taiwan living in Pennsylvania and applicants from Pennsylvania living in Taiwan. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
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Industrial hemp bill begins move in Senate

Industrial hemp bill begins move in Senate

A proposal in the Senate that would take advantage of federal permission to begin an industrial hemp program in Pennsylvania took a step forward in the Senate Tuesday with its unanimous passage out of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

The proposal jointly sponsored by Senators Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) would allow the state to begin industrial hemp pilot programs under the direction of the Department of Agriculture and with research conducted by institutions of higher education.

Sen. Schwank said after Tuesday’s committee meeting that the proposal now moving in the Senate differs slightly from one in the House sponsored by Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) in that it will allow individual farmers to serve as the research vehicles.

“A farmer and farmers throughout the state could actually start to grow this under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture and the oversight that’s built in to the bill,” she said. “That way, it gives us an opportunity to look at how this would grow throughout the commonwealth rather than just in one place."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Judicial reform efforts abound in PA Senate

Judicial reform efforts abound in PA Senate

The Senate was active Tuesday in calling for, reviewing, and moving legislation aimed at reforming Pennsylvania’s judiciary.

Whether it’s the looming judicial elections putting a spotlight on the judicial branch, or the recent focus on Justice Michael Eakin’s emails, at least three reform efforts had some type of effort given to them.

The first happened with a press conference held by Senators Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) and Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) calling on Justice Eakin to resign while also announcing the introduction of legislation they say will bring increased transparency to Pennsylvania’s courts.

In particular, the senators said they plan on introducing a package of bills amending the Pennsylvania Constitution to reform the composition and conduct of the Court of Judicial Discipline and the Judicial Conduct Board. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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