As partial veto override attempt looms, budget stalemate rhetoric heats up

As partial veto override attempt looms, budget stalemate rhetoric heats up

As House Republicans work toward attempts to partially override Gov. Tom Wolf’s full veto of a GOP-agreed to budget passed in June, the rhetoric between legislative Republicans and Gov. Wolf once again heated up Tuesday.

Responding to a letter sent by the governor to House lawmakers on Monday calling the veto override attempt unconstitutional as it seeks to override only certain lines of the full veto, Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) sent a letter to Gov. Wolf taking him to task for using "the neediest of our citizens as political pawns.”

"You had the opportunity to do what every other governor for over fifty five years has done, that is to fund those line items where there was agreement," he wrote. "This would allow the departments and agencies to provide services to the citizens of the Commonwealth while working with us on the rest."

He chided the governor for consistently asking for more concessions from Republican lawmakers during the course of ongoing negotiations while—he claims—GOP leadership continues to offer compromise ideas of pension reform and education spending.

Rep. Dush said it is this stance from the governor that has put legislators in the position where they must vote to override certain lines of the vetoed budget.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
VIDEO: Rural telephone companies hope to extend life of affordable landline services

VIDEO: Rural telephone companies hope to extend life of affordable landline services

Steven Tourje, President and CEO of the Northeastern Telephone Company testified before the House Consumer Affairs Committee on the merits of HB 1417- legislation extending the life of The Pennsylvania Universal Service Fund (PaUSF) to help maintain affordable landline telephone service in rural Pennsylvania. 

Monday, August 24, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
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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
Democrats call coming GOP veto override attempt unconstitutional, irresponsible

Democrats call coming GOP veto override attempt unconstitutional, irresponsible

As the House returns to voting session Tuesday, Democrats are calling a planned GOP attempt to override certain agreed-to lines of the budget unconstitutional and irresponsible.

In a memo to House Democrats sent Thursday afternoon, House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) tried to get out ahead of Tuesday’s action by rallying members.

"Attempting an override on parts of a bill that was vetoed in total is unconstitutional," the memo reads. "Just as importantly, it’s an irresponsible approach to resolving the current budget impasse. Pennsylvania needs a real budget, not more grandstanding and gamesmanship."

He told members Republicans decided to suspend “productive budget negotiations” in June to focus on passing their own budget that did not include Democratic support or input.

Friday, August 21, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Supreme Court takes Veon BIG appeal

An appeal by former House Minority Whip Mike Veon (D-Beaver) of a conviction related to operation of his legislative nonprofit organization BIG has been taken by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, according to an allocatur grant Thursday afternoon.

According to the grant, the court will hear the case on the following two issues:

(1) Whether the Pennsylvania conflict of interest law is unconstitutionally vague on its face, and whether as applied in this case the trial court improperly expanded the definition of “private pecuniary interest” to include “intangible political gain,” thereby threatening the constitutional rights of all elected officials in Pennsylvania.

 

(2) Whether the restitution ordered in this case was improper[] because the Commonwealth cannot be a victim under the subject criminal statutes.

 

In a February 2015 Superior Court opinion, that court rejected arguments made by Veon on these two matters.

Thursday, August 20, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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