Speaker Turzai on budget: “There are open issues in each and every area”

Speaker Turzai on budget: “There are open issues in each and every area”

Following a Friday morning call by a number of House Democrats for House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) to bring their chamber back to session to complete the budget and related bills, Speaker Turzai this afternoon announced the cancellation of Saturday’s scheduled session.

The House is set to reconvene Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m. to begin caucusing—and perhaps holding committee votes—on those bills.

In updating the schedule, the Speaker also provided some insight on the differences that remain between House Republicans and those who are still working toward the once agreed-to budget framework that continues to list between success and failure in continually uncertain waters.

“There are open issues in each and every area,” he said pointing to a number of papers worked up by House Republicans on issues with the budget, related code bills, and pension and liquor reform bills. 

Friday, December 11, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
House Education Chair: 95 percent of school districts able to stay open until October

House Education Chair: 95 percent of school districts able to stay open until October

As Pennsylvania’s state budget impasse continues to drag on into the start of the school year and districts begin to plan for contingencies in case the stalemate continues, House Education Committee Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) said Monday that around 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s school districts will likely to survive until October without state funding.

“Statewide I have not seen a school district that can’t open [on time],” he told a small group of reporters following Monday’s Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon featuring Education Sec. Pedro Rivera. “I think the school districts as a whole, the majority—I mean great majority—I’m going to say 95 percent of them probably can survive into October without taking a loan, possibly.”

He added those that are more financially distressed might have to go out for a line of credit a little sooner.

Currently, he noted school districts have already started to collect property taxes and other sources of their own revenue.

Monday, August 24, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Amorphous progress reported by budget negotiators after pension meeting

Amorphous progress reported by budget negotiators after pension meeting

While it may just be a feeling, legislative leaders and Gov. Tom Wolf again touted progress toward reaching a pension deal following a Thursday negotiating session on the topic.

“We had a good conversation, we’re making some progress on two really important issues: the pensions and education,” said Gov. Wolf. “We obviously have differences…but I think we had a good conversation, good discussion.”

House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) noted that while pension reform and education funding are two items the negotiators have focused on over the last two days as necessary components of the final budget, differences still exist in those areas.

“We’re still working through those differences, we’re hoping to do so in a timely fashion because there are a number of other issues that need to come to the table before we can have a final budget agreement,” he told reporters.

Thursday, August 13, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Budget negotiations forge ahead with new proposals coming on pension reform, education funding

Budget negotiations forge ahead with new proposals coming on pension reform, education funding

Top legislative leaders from the four legislative caucuses met with Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday afternoon to discuss matters related to resolving Pennsylvania’s seven-week old budget stalemate and left the meeting to review new proposals offered by the administration dealing with pension reform and education funding.

The negotiators will meet again Thursday morning to discuss the new plans and see if they can find a way to forge ahead and agree to a spending plan.

“I think we made some progress,” Gov. Wolf said about the Wednesday meeting. “We’re going to get together at 10:00 tomorrow morning, we have some information [Budget Sec. Randy Albright] is going to be presenting to the leaders, both parties, so we can have a continuation of this tomorrow.”

While the governor stopped short of saying there was any sort of a breakthrough in negotiations, he remained optimistic saying again, “We made progress."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Educators, administrators pan state assessments at House hearing

Educators, administrators pan state assessments at House hearing

The House Education Committee held a marathon hearing Wednesday getting input on state education assessments from frontline players who deliver and develop the tests. Most testifiers panned the state assessments as costly, unnecessary, and misapplied.

The committee’s aim was not to take testimony on any specific bill, but to get a ground-level understanding of what the tests do, how they’re viewed, and whether students are prepared for them.

“What we wanted to hear today is what exactly we Pennsylvania are required to do in terms of testing as far as the federal government requirements are concerned, what’s been going on at PDE and the Board of Education, but also to hear from different teachers, superintendents, and board members as to exactly what’s going on in each of the districts,” said Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York). “Let’s hear from individuals who are involved in the testing day in and day out to give us an explanation.”

It was noted the topic of state assessments has drawn a lot of interest lately, particularly in terms of preparedness for the exams after the adoption of Pennsylvania CORE standards in 2013.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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