Jun. 30th, 2015 @ 7:43 pm
RT @MaryWilson: PA Senate passes overhaul of public pension benefits going forward. Goes to Gov. Wolf, who opposes but won't say if he'll v…
Jun. 30th, 2015 @ 7:22 pm
RT @PAindependent: The state House just concurred on the liquor privatization bill, 113-82. It head to Gov. Wolf.
Jun. 30th, 2015 @ 4:04 pm
Pa House passes pension reform bill 106-89
Jun. 30th, 2015 @ 3:30 pm
RT @MaryWilson: Last year, Capitol supplied TVs to watch men's World Cup during budget debates. No screens yet for USWNT v. Germany. http:/…
Jun. 29th, 2015 @ 8:22 pm
In the back rooms of the Capitol - A look into Governor Corbett's final budget 6.29.14 Video http://t.co/c5C42bfwnh
Jun. 29th, 2015 @ 6:01 pm
@melissamdaniels Till next big storm?
Jun. 27th, 2015 @ 3:05 pm
Pa House passes budget bill 112-77
Jun. 26th, 2015 @ 4:06 pm
SB 3 (medical marijuana) moved to Rules Committee. Editing video.
Jun. 25th, 2015 @ 11:37 am
Recording presser on Act 192 court ruling. http://t.co/aepjTOvCfc
Mayor Thompson presents Bob Philbin the key to the City of Harrisburg.
As released by the Office of the Mayor:
Mayor Thompson Presents Key to the City of Harrisburg to Communication Director.
(Harrisburg) – Mayor Linda D. Thompson presented the Key to the City of Harrisburg to the city’s Senior Advisor and Director of Communication Robert Philbin today at a full cabinet staff luncheon in the MLK, Jr., City Government Center.
“Mr. Philbin has served our city, its citizens, and my administration with professional distinction,” Mayor Thompson told assembled staff. “And we all thank him for his commitment and dedication to the City of Harrisburg.”
Today is Mr. Philbin’s last day of service to the City of Harrisburg. He will continue to consult with the mayor on a variety of issues. He has served the city since March, 2011.
This is only the second Key to the City of Harrisburg awarded by the current Mayor. The first was presented to Civil Rights Activist and Poet Ms. Maya Angelou who visited Harrisburg and met with Mayor Thompson in 2012.
### Lisa R. Blackston Senior Assistant Office of The Mayor The City of Harrisburg.
Video of Bob Philbin January 23, 2013.
On February 1, 2013, Governor Tom Corbett held a press conference to announce his commitment to maintaining funding levels for the state and state-related universities.
Governor Corbett declared that in return for university leaders' promise to keep tuition increases low, the 2013-2014 Budget will include $1.58 billion in funding.
Senator Corman said, "The real winners here today are the State's students."
Click the icon at top to watch video of Senator Corman from the press conference.
As released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education:
Department of Education Releases List of Low-Achieving Schools
Harrisburg – As required by law, the Department of Education today published the list of low-achieving schools in which students, who live within the schools’ boundaries, may be eligible to apply for a scholarship through the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program.
Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program to provide low- and moderate-income students in low-achieving schools the opportunity to obtain a scholarship to attend a participating public or nonpublic school.
As required by the law, the list of schools contains the lowest-achieving 15 percent of elementary schools and the lowest-achieving 15 percent of secondary schools, based on combined math and reading scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment from the 2011-12 school year.
Career and technology centers as well as charter schools are not included on the list.
The list includes 406 school buildings in 71 school districts across Pennsylvania – potentially benefiting more than 240,000 students.
For the 2013-14 school year, students who live within the attendance boundaries of one of these schools may be eligible for a scholarship if their household’s annual income is no greater than $75,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent member of the household.
The maximum scholarship award available to non-special education students is $8,500 and the maximum for a special education student is $15,000.
Pennsylvania businesses that donate to opportunity scholarship organizations are eligible for a tax credit through the program. The Department of Community and Economic Development administers the tax credit program and must approve opportunity scholarship organizations based on their ability to enhance the educational opportunities for students in low-achieving schools.
The Department of Education is required by law to notify school districts that have schools identified as low-achieving no later than Feb. 1 of each year.
Within 15 days of notification by the department, school districts are required to notify parents and post on their website a description of the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program as well as instructions on how families may apply.
For more information about the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program, visit the Department of Community and Economic Development’s website at PA DCED To view the list of low-achieving schools, visit the Department of Education’s website at PA Dept of Ed and click on the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program icon. Editor’s Note: Low-achieving schools are located in the following counties:
Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Carbon, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Somerset, Venango, Westmoreland, and York.
Like the City of Harrisburg, the Harrisburg School District (HSD) is in fiscal dire straits.
So much so that on December 12, 2012, Pennsylvania's Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis determined HSD to be in "Moderate Fiscal Recovery" per Act 141, a State designation that not only gives the Department of Education access to the District's financial and business records, but also led to the appointment of a Chief Recovery Officer. On the day of Secretary Tomalis' determination, he appointed Gene Veno to that role.
Since then Veno has been meeting with the HSD Administration under the leadership of Superintendent Sybill Knight-Burney and the ten elected School Board of Directors. Also as mandated by Act 141, Veno has compiled an Advisory Committee to work with him on his number one task at hand---to develop a Recovery Plan for HSD by March 12th.
In his first of a series of scheduled public meetings on HSD's Recovery Plan process, Veno presented an overview of the District's financial as well as academic state. Not only is HSD facing a $11.7 million deficit this year, but its last standardized test results are as dispiriting---38 percent of students are below basic in math and 42 percent are below basic in reading.
This year's expected deficit comes in the wake of a tense budget process last year, which included talk of cutting kindergarten and extracurricular activities, and ultimately culminated in the closing of five schools as well as furloughs and a 2.5% tax increase.
A significant part of the HSD's financial woes is the massive debt the District must pay. Debt service payments this year are $15.3 million and are scheduled to increase to $21.4 million by 2019. Veno pointed to the fact that HSD makes bond payments on buildings that were borrowed against for the purpose of covering debt in the budget. "That's not the way to manage a budget," Veno declared.
According to the Chief Recovery Officer, yet another strain on the District are charter schools. Currently there are approximately nine charter schools in the City of Harrisburg with more coming. "I do not speak for or against charter schools. I have no comments on those. Education is education." However, Veno revealed HSD paid $8.4 million to charter schools in 2012-2013 because of the exodus of students from the District, which he said is "causing our budget to really go into a state of dire need." Veno stressed that HSD must find ways to bring the students back.
Public response to the Chief Recovery Officer has been mixed. Only about ten actual residents attended the first public presentation of the HSD Recovery Plan process. Of the ones who were there a few were happy to hear that more proactive verus reactive measures would be taken, yet, some citizens expressed skepticism of the data being displayed. One attendee asserted the numbers were "fictitious." Still others like School Board President Jennifer Smallwood wish the State would come in and inject more money into the failing District. As it is now, 46% of HSD's budget is funded by the State.
At one point in his presentation, Veno asked the question that many citizens wonder, "Where did the money go?" While Veno said, "High pupil spending--per pupil, fringe benefits, and debt service are areas of special concern," he also said his initial perusal of the District's books as indicated "things aren't matching up." He announced that his team will conduct a forensic audit of HSD's financings going back ten years.
A hefty announcement to make especially only one year after the release of the Harrisburg Incinerator Forensic Audit Report was released to a tune of over a million dollars expense. Perhaps Veno didn't mean "forensic audit" in the same way as much of the citizenry of the City of Harrisburg think of that term. It seems he basically meant it literally---that his team will carefully look over and compare and contrast the numbers over the years. No interviews or external requests for documents yet.
When asked about the scope, expense, and approach of a forensic audit of the HSD's finances, Veno said at this point it would be an internal scrutiny using the firm already Public Financial Management (PFM).
To many observers who have followed the business of HSD over the past decade, the idea of PFM being involved has raised some red flags. Amongst other transactions, the firm was financial advisor to District in 2003 when the Harrisburg Authority issued $77 million in bonds on behalf of HSD.
The HSD Recovery Plan must be presented to the Harrisburg School Board of Directors by March 12th. The Board will have 30 days to approve or disapprove the Plan. If they turn it down, technical assistance from the State will be withheld, and the Board has one year to pass a Plan for implementation under the guidance of the Chief Recovery Officer.
The next public HSD Recovery Plan meeting will be held on February 21, 2013 at Camp Curtin Elementary School.
Videos of Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno from the HSD Recovery Plan, January 29, 2013:
by Tara Leo Auchey
Governor Corbett held a presser Friday afternoon to discuss funding for higher education. Part 1
Governor Corbett is asked about reports of his son-in-law Gerold Gibson a Philly narcotics cop being the target of a sting operation.
Photo Natalie Cake
As released by the Papenfuse for Mayor campaign.
HARRISBURG - Successful business and community leader Eric Papenfuse will formally announce his candidacy for Mayor of Harrisburg at a reception at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 at the Midtown Scholar Book Store, 1302 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg, PA 17102.
The announcement comes after widespread speculation about his candidacy and after a diverse coalition of community leaders pledged its support. Papenfuse will use the occasion to hear from Harrisburg residents about their concerns for the city. He also will introduce members of his campaign team and lay out his election platform in the mayor’s race.
“I am running for Mayor of Harrisburg because I am dedicated to making our capital city a welcoming, vibrant and progressive place to live, work and play,” Papenfuse said. “I believe the city needs competent, committed and caring leadership now more than ever.”
A long-time Harrisburg resident, Papenfuse and his wife Catherine own the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, which has become a meeting place for community leaders, political activists and residents of Harrisburg.
“Our bookstore has become a place where people from Harrisburg’s diverse communities can come together to talk over the many problems facing the city, and work together to solve them.
“That’s why I’ve chosen as the motto for my campaign – ‘Together, We Can,’” Papenfuse said. “Harrisburg needs a leader who can bring people together for the common goal of turning the page in our city’s troubled history and making a better life for us all. I am that kind of leader.”
As founder and CEO of the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Papenfuse has created more than 200 jobs in the past decade. His current staff is a diverse workforce of more than 60 employees. His company is among the region’s largest national and international shippers.
In addition to running a successful business, Papenfuse is a former public school teacher and taught Latin at Central Dauphin East and Linglestown Junior High schools.
Papenfuse lives in Harrisburg with his wife Cathy and three children (Clara, 10; Everett age 8, and Chauncey, 4).
“I am ready to accept the challenge to lead Harrisburg out of a period of hopelessness and despair into a new era of prosperity, pride and promise,” Papenfuse said. For more information about the Papenfuse for Mayor campaign, visit www.papenfusefor mayor.com
Archive video: Eric Papenfuse October 14, 2007