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In this Email Update:
House attempts to restore state funding to essential programs, services
While the legislature and the governor are in agreement on 70 percent of the state budget package, in June the governor chose to veto the entire state budget – an unprecedented move by any governor in recent history.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives convened to override the governor’s state budget veto to restore funding for areas where there is agreement between Republicans and Democrats.
In order to override the governor’s veto, a two-thirds majority is required. Despite strong support to fund these essential state programs by vote of 115-83, the effort failed to achieve the required 135 votes. All Republicans voted to restore the funding, but no Democrats were willing to join them.
During a telephone town hall event earlier this month with over 4,700 local individuals, Berks and Schuylkill County residents sounded off on the budget debate. Forty-nine percent of the participants wanted the House to try and override the governor’s budget veto, 25 percent wanted the House and Senate to negotiate a compromise with the governor, 13 percent preferred the governor’s budget and tax increases, and 13 percent were undecided.
The telephone town hall event also found that only nine percent of participants support the governor’s entire veto of the state budget. However, 46 percent of participants said the governor should have signed the House and Senate-passed budget plan, while 45 percent of participants believe the governor should have only vetoed areas in the budget where he disagreed.
Here are several statements from local Representatives following Tuesday’s session:
“Rape crisis and domestic violence centers, cancer screening services, and PHEAA grants to students are just a few of the critical services that are being limited and in some cases eliminated to the people in our communities. They cannot provide these services without state funding. For that reason, I voted to override the governor’s veto to get these needed dollars to those entities.
“I hope the governor realizes the mess he’s made with his full-budget veto. The General Assembly handed him a balanced budget in June and he decided to veto the whole thing. He even made comments at that time questioning why an on-time state budget was a major priority. We are in this mess today solely due to his decision to veto the full budget. This isn’t a political science experiment; this is real people we are talking about and real situations vulnerable people depend on us to address.”
“I don't understand how Harrisburg Republicans can claim to be negotiating a state budget in good faith with Governor Wolf when they continue to play these games. Today's charade in Harrisburg by the Republican politicians proves that Harrisburg is severely broken and we need sweeping changes to avoid D.C. like gridlock. Unfortunately, the Republicans in the House of Representatives decided the best way forward is to put politics before the needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth. In almost 40 years, I've never seen it this bad in Harrisburg.
“I believe Harrisburg Republicans should give Governor Wolf a fair opportunity to carry out his agenda since he did win election by over 10%. Moreover, Governor Wolf's budget is a huge win for the citizens of Reading. Governor Wolf's budget would eliminate property taxes for most citizens of Reading and would significantly increase state funding for the Reading School District. I stand ready to vote for a state budget that will help move Reading forward.”
“I'm disappointed more of our colleagues did not join us to release this state funding. We had an opportunity for bipartisan action to move beyond the gridlock caused by the governor's veto.
“These are non-controversial funding items. These programs and services deserve bipartisan support. I was disappointed to see the votes come down along party lines. As a result of these votes, many Pennsylvanians will continue to suffer the effects of the budget veto.”
“If my colleagues from the other side of the aisle are ready to get serious about doing what is right for the victims of rape and sexual abuse then I am ready to welcome them to the cause with open arms.
“But what I saw today was at best political theater, and at worst the revictimization of individuals who truly don't deserve the trauma or insult. I am calling on my colleagues in the General Assembly to withhold any and all similar stunts for the duration of the budget impasse and beyond as it does nothing for the political process and is a feeble attempt to use a traumatic experience to move their flawed political agenda forward.”
Governor still reviewing budget counteroffer from House and Senate majority leaders
On August 19, the Senate and House majority leaders proposed a new budget plan that would include many of the key provisions in Senate Bill 1, which would provide historic pension reform, as well as boost spending for public education by $400 million, as requested by the governor. This solution would provide historic funding for public schools, while enacting meaningful pension reform which is gobbling up tax dollars at an alarming rate. The governor is still reviewing this proposal from the House and Senate leaders.
President Ronald Reagan’s desk in the Oval Office featured a plaque containing a quote by Father Strickland, a Jesuit Priest, “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
That should be our goal.
Distracted driving dangers
Driving while dialing, calling, or texting, triples crash risk, according to leading highway safety advocates. Yet, a quarter of all teens respond to a text message once or more every time they are behind the wheel.
One out of five young drivers do NOT believe texting affects driving performance. Among 18-20 year old drivers, 68 percent are willing to respond to incoming calls some, most, or on all driving occasions.
Reaction time is 18 percent slower for both younger and older drivers while using a cell phone and increases two-fold the number of rear-end collisions. Teens witnessing parents engaged in distracted driving behaviors reflect parental activity behind the wheel.
Family fishing fun continues into the fall
Designated days and locations scattered around the Commonwealth, open up fishing opportunities for those with no fishing license or equipment. Basic fishing skills, from tying knots to casting to removing the hook, are taught by seasoned, PF&BC-approved anglers.
Enjoy a day of fishing, then catch the angler spirit and get a license for future use. Drop in on the PF&BC’s Frequently Asked Questions for a wealth of information on angling in PA. You may wish to access a copy of the 2015 PA Fishing Summary Book to further familiarize yourself with PA’s fishing laws and regulations.