Sunday, May 31, 2009

What taxes would you like raised and by how much?

A guest column by state Sen. Rob Wonderling about Pennsylvania's budget crisis and the disingenuous way Democrats approach taxes and spending.

An honest conversation

By Sen. Rob Wonderling

"I'm proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money." — Arthur Godfrey

When a conversation begins "Do you want the good news or the bad news first?" you have to brace yourself. So here goes, brace yourself.

The bad news is the White House has revised its budget for the year stating that the deficit will rise by $89 billion to above $1.8 trillion — about four times the record set just last year. The red ink comes from the recession, the economic stimulus bill, and the imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in.

The bad news is that Pennsylvania has been hit hard too by this national economic crisis. Pennsylvanians have lost jobs, businesses have cut back, and our state revenues have fallen dramatically.

As of May 1st, the actual revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year is $2.6 billion. We expect that shortfall to grow to 2.9 billion by June 30th — a drop of more than 10 percent from the official revenue estimate.

Unlike the federal government, Pennsylvania cannot operate with a deficit. We cannot borrow without limit to balance the budget or to attempt to stimulate the economy. Pennsylvania's constitution requires a balanced budget.

So you are thinking, "Where's the good news Wonderling"?

Recently, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a budget, Senate Bill 850. It is a balanced budget that does not increase taxes.

This budget represents a responsible spending plan that preserves the core governmental functions of public health, public safety, and education.

More bad news.

Budget cuts always come with pain, and I recognize that. Hundreds of difficult choices were made in this budget. Many good and important programs had to be put on hold to bring the budget into balance. I believe this short-term sacrifice is the best long-term approach for the citizens of Pennsylvania.

I have supported these programs in the past and look forward to the day when funding for these programs can be restored, but families and businesses across Pennsylvania are making cuts in their own budgets, and state government needs to do the same. We must live within our means.

I believe taking these difficult steps now will allow our Commonwealth to restore many important programs as soon as possible without a tax increase in the future. Senate Bill 850 is built on a spending level that is in line with our revenues. This budget will position our state to rebound quickly when the national economy begins to improve.

The only honest alternative to cutting spending is increasing taxes, and history shows us that solving a budget crisis with tax increases kills future economic growth.

This budget maintains the $750 million Rainy Day Fund, which we will need for future year budgets when we no longer have an infusion of national stimulus funding.

Unlike many other line items, basic education spending is preserved by using federal stabilization funds. Combined with the additional federal stimulus funds which are being sent directly to school districts under Title 1, Title 2, and I.D.E.A., this budget represents a real net increase in funding for school districts.

For example, in my Senate district, every school district will received more than it did last year. For example, East Penn School District will receive a 10.7 percent increase, Palisades School District will receive an 11.9 percent increase, and North Penn School district will receive a 20.2 percent increase.

The Pennsylvania Senate has taken unprecedented steps to further reduce spending including implementing a hiring freeze, donating the cost of living increase to charity, instituting a co-pay for health care for all state employees, eliminating automobile leases for public officials, and applying any legislative surplus to reducing the deficit.

Since voting in support of Senate Bill 850, I have received numerous e-mails from constituents supporting efforts to control spending and live within our means and then urging me in the next sentence to restore funding for independent colleges and universities, public television and the arts, to name a few programs.

To those citizens, I would ask that you e-mail me to let me know exactly what taxes you would like raised and by how much to fund your program. You may reach me at rwonderling@pasen.gov

If we are going to have true transparency in government then we must have a frank discussion about how we intend to pay for programs we simply cannot afford.

State Sen. Rob Wonderling is a Republican who represents the 24th district in Pennsylvania which includes parts of Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Obama pushes National Energy Tax

Obama runs GM into the ground

Despite more than $19 billion in taxpayer dollars that was suppose to keep GM from going under, the giant auto maker is expected to file for bankruptcy on June 1.

Barack Obama promised that the government bailout would allow GM to restructure without filing for bankruptcy. Guess what? He lied.

Robert Romano, writing at GetLiberty.org, says the Treasury will now finance GM with another roughly $30 billion while in bankruptcy, which would last 60 to 90 days, bringing taxpayers' burden to $50 billion to "save" the company.

And, of course, the Obama Administration will nationalize one-third of the "Big 3," Romano says.

More from Romano:
Simply put: The fact is, GM was failing just fine without government assistance. And left to tried and true free market devices, the problems between bondholders and GM brass could have been effectively resolved, without presenting taxpayers with the tab. But since bankruptcy was not averted—despite a $19.4 billion infusion of taxpayer capital—the only thing that has now been achieved is that GM is now a de facto agency of the federal government, just like Chrysler.

In short, both are now line items on the federal budget. All at taxpayer expense.

There really is no description for what is taking place other than redistributionism. A new favored political class is being built under the guise of law, and it is all happening under the auspices of his imperial, impervious majesty, Barack Obama. So corrupt is this new system that even the courts are going along with it. Lawmakers speak nary a word against it. And the American people are left only to watch in horror as their own government turns against them, leaving them to wonder if they are next in line for wholesale asset confiscation.
Read Romano's full post at GetLiberty.org

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Friday, May 29, 2009

State Capitol Roundup for May 29

Here's this week's State Capitol Roundup courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147):

House Republicans Boycott Farce Budget Hearings

House Republicans boycotted a House Education Committee hearing this week, citing it as another example of Democrats' advocacy for increased spending. For the current fiscal year, tax revenues are expected to fall short by more than $3 billion. While House and Senate Republicans are committed to controlling spending, House Democrat leaders continue to say broad-based tax increases are needed to address the deficit. Republican Leader Sam Smith (R-Jefferson County) is asking when hearings on the effects of the proposed tax increases will be held. Smith also noted misleading testimony offered during budget hearings suggesting a long-planned school closure in his district was the result of decreased funding in a Senate-passed budget proposal and questioned the validity of other testimony.

Economic Realities Demand Pragmatic Spending Solutions

Earlier this month, the state Senate passed a $27.3 billion budget spending approximately $1.7 billion less than Gov. Ed Rendell's proposal to increase state spending. Since then, at least 15 media releases from Rendell's agency heads have predicted dire consequences for Pennsylvanians. House Republicans say these efforts are little more than scare tactics in the face of good-faith attempts to negotiate a responsible budget. Ultimately, spending will need to be curtailed to close a looming $3 billion deficit for the current fiscal year. With a month left to pass a balanced budget before the June 30 deadline, it's time to engage in genuine negotiations that acknowledge the state's challenging financial situation. For more legislative news, visit PAHouseGOP.com

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Draws Closer

The June 30 deadline to file applications for the Department of Revenue's Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) program is quickly approaching. PTRR participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2008. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities. As many as 110,000 Pennsylvania seniors will pay no school property taxes again this year as a result of the program. Individuals are reminded to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately. For additional information, visit Rep. Bob Mensch's (R-Montgomery) eb site at RepMensch.com

Pennsylvania Farm Market Guide Now Available

Pennsylvania Farm Market Guide Now Available

Rendell Asks U.S. Attorney General to File Civil Rights Charges in Shenandoah Beating Death

CORRECTION: Gov. Rendell Asks U.S. Attorney General to File Civil Rights Charges in Shenandoah Beating Death

Join taxpayer protest on June 9



POLICY BLOG has information on a taxpayer protest scheduled for June 9 in Harrisburg.

If you're tired of the Rendell/Obama tax-and-spend agenda, it's time to be heard.

From POLICY BLOG on the current fiscal state of Pennsylvania: "This is your chance to keep the pressure on your elected officials to end years of out-of-control spending, borrowing, and unprecedented fiscal irresponsibility. Policies that have resulted in an estimated $3 billion budget deficit."

For more details visit www.statecapitolprotest.com

ATR: Obama's VAT Trial Balloon Dusts Off Bill Clinton's 1993 Playbook

ATR: Obama's VAT Trial Balloon Dusts Off Bill Clinton's 1993 Playbook: "Americans for Tax Reform"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Further Pennsylvania DEP Testing Finds Air Quality Around Schools To Be Safe

Further Pennsylvania DEP Testing Finds Air Quality Around Schools To Be Safe

The Faith & Politics Institute Announces New Congressional Advisory Council

The Faith & Politics Institute Announces New Congressional Advisory Council

Obama's Anti-Gun Strategy Is to Stack Courts

Obama's Anti-Gun Strategy Is to Stack Courts, Says CCRKBA

What Constitution?

Rendell, Dems want to raise your taxes

Ed Rendell began his tenure as governor in 2003 by signing the second largest income tax hike in Pennsylvania history. Rendell then proceeded to spend $8 billion over the next six years, increasing state spending at twice the rate of inflation.

The results of Rendell's failed fiscal policies is a $3.2 billion budget deficit for the current fiscal year. With less than two years before he leaves office, Rendell is pushing for another massive income tax hike to make up the huge deficit he created.

The Democratic doormats in the House of Representatives will do whatever Rendell wants. Raising taxes during a recession is a bad idea, but that hasn't stopped Democrats in the past.

Lowman S. Henry, writing at Lincoln Blog:
"That would be the quick, easy, and most destructive resolution possible to the budget crisis currently gripping the state. The real issue here is not financial; rather it is the unwillingness of state Democrats to make the hard decisions demanded of those governing in tough times. The real issue here is the unwillingness of state Democrats to begin living within our means."
It's time to let your Democratic state House member know that he or she will be out of a job in 2010 if they support a tax hike to bail out Rendell.

Read more about the state's sad state of financial affairs and how Rendell and House Democrats are working on a tax hike in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

'Talking Politics' on radio today

Tune in to "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" today at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

"Talking Politics" can be heard every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. You can call the station at 610-326-4000 with questions or comments.

If you can't pick up the station's signal, you can listen to the program on your computer. The show is simulcast at www.pottsmerc.com and www.1370wpaz.com

On '529 Day' Treasurer McCord Encourages Parents to Save for College, Despite Tough Economy

On '529 Day' Treasurer McCord Encourages Parents to Save for College, Despite Tough Economy

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Legal scholar: Sotomayor an intellectual lightweight



Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley has read 30 written opinions by Judge Sonia Sotomayor and says she is an intellectual lightweight. Kinda like the president who appointed her?

The role of judges

Richard Viguerie: Congratulations, President Obama, You've United the Entire Conservative Movement

Richard Viguerie: Congratulations, President Obama, You've United the Entire Conservative Movement

PA needs a Right to Work Law

A guest column by Susan Staub, president of PA Right to Work on important legislation needed to save Pennsylvania jobs:
Pa. needs a Right to Work Law to keep jobs from leaving state

In this sluggish, lackluster economy, the time could not be more right for a Right to Work law for Pennsylvania.

Consider these statistics from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research:

Private sector jobs in the 22 Right to Work states increased by an aggregate 9.1 percent between 2003 and 2008.

Among the eight states with the biggest gain in private-sector employment over the past five years, seven — Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, and North Dakota — have Right to Work laws.

Seven states had private-sector job growth of less than 2 percent. All seven — Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont — are forced-dues states like Pennsylvania, which had 3.82 percent job growth.

If private-sector employment in forced-unionism states had grown from 2003-2008 as much as it did in Right to Work states (9.1 percent), there would be an additional 3.7 million Americans employed in the private sector today.

Right to Work law protect the freedom of both private and public sector employees to keep and hold a job without handing over dues or fees to a union recognized as their exclusive bargaining agent.

Almost every economic indicator shows that forced union dues inhibit job growth.

Please join with Pennsylvanians for Right to Work now as we work to advance Right to Work law legislation in both the Pennsylvania Senate and Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

State Sen. Mary Jo White (R-21st Dist.) and state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-12th Dist.) are both circulating for co-sponsors for their respective Right to Work Law legislation.

If your state senator and/or representative is not a co-sponsor, please contact them and urge them to be a co-sponsor. If they are a co-sponsor, please thank them for being a true statesman — for standing up for the liberty and individual rights of Pennsylvania's citizens.

SUSAN STAUB
President, PA Right to Work
www.PARightToWork.org
Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Americans United for Life: Obama Nominates Avowed Judicial Activist Judge Who Undermines Common Ground

Americans United for Life: Obama Nominates Avowed Judicial Activist Judge Who Undermines Common Ground

ATA Supports Bill to Limit Spread of Tolling On National Highway System

ATA Supports Bill to Limit Spread of Tolling On National Highway System

House GOP: Democrats set stage for tax increase

The Democrats continued their dog-and-pony show Tuesday in Harrisburg, parading special interests groups that claim the world will come to an end if the state Legislature approves a balanced budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Republican House members have had enough of the circus.

From Rep. Sam Smith, House Republican leader:
House Republicans refuse to attend another House Democrat and administration-orchestrated hearing on increasing spending beyond what the economy affords us, House Republican Leader Sam Smith (R-Jefferson County) said today.

"The Commonwealth tax revenues are down $3 billion, and the administration and House Democrats are pushing to spend more and more money which the state does not have, unless we take it out of taxpayers' pockets," Smith said. "Today's House Education Committee hearing, along with the Appropriations hearings last week, are being aimed to increase state spending regardless of the consequences.

"More money is not always the answer, but higher taxes today will affect every Pennsylvania family. Where are the public hearings about the effects higher taxes will have on the people of Pennsylvania?

"Tax hearings are not being scheduled because the Democrats may not care about the impact. Every week, several state agencies have been putting out 'scare' press releases about services or programs which they claim will end if the Senate's budget bill is enacted, even though the spending matches actual state revenues. Next, we'll hear about the State Police being unable to fuel their vehicles or purchase ammunition.

"As to today's Education Committee hearing, the testimony being offered will be exactly what has been said before. This is obviously a lobbying effort coordinated by the administration, and it is clear they are using taxpayer dollars to lobby for more taxpayer dollars.

"Last week, the testimony of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) stated as fact the Punxsutawney Area School District will be closing an elementary school because of the Senate-passed budget. That is untrue; this closing has been in the works for several years. PSEA either left out this fact and is purposefully misrepresenting facts to scare people, or they have no idea what they are talking about. In either case, this is highly disingenuous.

"What else is being said that is untrue?

"House Republicans will not participate in hearings to trump up reasons for a major tax increase."

Richard Viguerie: Sotomayor Nomination is a Major Opportunity for Conservatives to Define President Obama as a Radical Liberal

Richard Viguerie: Sotomayor Nomination is a Major Opportunity for Conservatives to Define President Obama as a Radical Liberal

Americans United for Life: Obama Nominates Avowed Judicial Activist Judge Who Undermines Common Ground

Americans United for Life: Obama Nominates Avowed Judicial Activist Judge Who Undermines Common Ground

FRC: CA Supreme Court Upholds the People's Right to Amend Constitution

FRC: CA Supreme Court Upholds the People's Right to Amend Constitution

Sotomayor: A Policy Maker or a Jurist?

Sotomayor: A Policy Maker or a Jurist?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Columnist salutes the military hero

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan offers a tribute to America's war heroes, past and present on this Memorial Day Weekend.

From her column:
The category of military hero — warrior — fell off a bit, in part because of the bad reputation of war. Some emerged of heroic size — Gens. Pershing and Patton, Eisenhower and Marshall. But somewhere in the 1960s I think we decided, or the makers of our culture decided, that to celebrate great warriors was to encourage war. And we always have too much of that. So they made a lot of movies depicting soldiers as victims and officers as brutish. This was especially true in the Vietnam era and the years that followed. Maybe a correction was in order: It's good to remember war is hell. But when we removed the warrior, we removed something intensely human, something ancestral and stirring, something celebrated naturally throughout the long history of man. Also it was ungrateful: They put themselves in harm's way for us.
She devotes the column to Alvin York, Audie Murphy and Chuck Boyd, but this is a time to honor everyone who has served their country.

Take a few minutes to read it.

Check out Those Who Make Us Say 'Oh!' at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

'May We Never Forget ...'

Matt Bruce, writing at The New Media Journal.us, reminds us why we celebrate Memorial Day.

From his poignant column:
From the current War on Terror, to World War's I & II, along with Vietnam, Korea, Grenada and even the Spanish American and Civil War's we honor the memory of all of those who have died serving America in our Armed Forces so that we might now all be free and safe ...

To those of us who have survived serving in the Military during combat or peace, we take the time to stop and remember those brave young men and women who served right along beside us who are no longer with us ...

We also all look forward to what their sacrifices have done in helping keep America the greatest Country on the face of the Earth ...

A Country that people are willing to risk their lives crossing hundreds of miles of desert just to get in to ...

Let's remember why we celebrate Memorial Day because so many have forgotten the real reason ...

We are not Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives or Liberals on Memorial Day. We are all Americans honoring those who did not return home to be able to celebrate with us ...

So we celebrate and honor those who died protecting our great Country, the United States of America...
Read the full column, 'May We Never Forget The Reason ...' at The New Media Journal

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How a Nation Honors Its Vets Impacts National Security Says Legal Group Representing Veterans in Memorial Case

How a Nation Honors Its Vets Impacts National Security Says Legal Group Representing Veterans in Memorial Case

Veterans Fight to Be Remembered

Veterans Fight to Be Remembered

Gingrich: Pelosi should resign



From Newt Gingrich's latest column, "Why Pelosi Should Step Down" posted at HumanEvents.com:
The case against Nancy Pelosi remaining Speaker of the House is as simple as it is devastating:

The person who is No. 2 in line to be commander in chief can’t have contempt for the men and women who protect our nation. America can’t afford it.

To test how much damage Speaker Pelosi has done to the defense of our nation, ask yourself this: If you were a young man or woman just starting out today, would you put on a uniform or become an intelligence officer to defend America, knowing that tomorrow a politician like Nancy Pelosi could decide you were a criminal?

Would you?
Read the full column at HumanEvents.com

'Talking Politics' on the radio today

Tune in to "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" today at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

The topics today will include a recap of primary races in SE Pennsylvania.

"Talking Politics" can be heard every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. You can call the station at 610-326-4000 with questions or comments.

If you can't pick up the station's signal, you can listen to the program on your computer. The show is simulcast at www.pottsmerc.com and www.1370wpaz.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

California voters reject $16 billion tax hike


Imagine if Pennsylvania voters had the power of initiative and referendum, like their counterparts in California do. Gov. Ed Rendell's disastrous fiscal policies could have been stopped six years ago before Rendell ruined the state's economy with tax increases and record deficit spending.

Michael Reagan Says CA Voters Sent Message to Sacramento and Washington, D.C.: 'No Way to 1A and No New Taxes'

Rep. Joe Pitts Launches Facebook Page

First it was YouTube, then Twitter and now Facebook.

Politicians continue to take advantage of the latest social networking platforms to spread their message.

U.S. Congressman Joe Pitts, who represents Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District in parts of Berks, Chester and Lancaster counties, is never shy about the latest technology.

From Pitts' office:
Washington – Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) announced today the launch of a page on the popular social networking site Facebook. The page, which can be found here, will provide Rep. Pitts an opportunity to better communicate with his constituents.

Congressman Pitts' statement follows:

"Facebook has become an increasingly popular way for people to keep in touch with one another. With this new page, I am pleased to have yet one more way to communicate with the people I represent about my work on their behalf. I encourage constituents to stop by and find information about bills I have introduced, video of speeches I have delivered on the House floor, pictures from events I have attended in Pennsylvania and more."
Check out Pitts' Facebook page here.

Voters toss incumbents

Incumbents typically have the advantage in any election, but not when voters are angry and want change.

Here's a sampling of some of the incumbents in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties who were kicked out by voters in Tuesday's primary election:
Reading School Board President Pierre Cooper

5 current members of the Owen J. Roberts School Board

Limerick Township Supervisor Renee K. Chesler

2 current members of the Pottstown School Board

2 current Exeter Township Supervisors

Lower Providence Township Supervisor Craig Dininny

Chester County Treasurer Alan Randzin

Chester County Clerk of Courts Teena Peters

Norristown Borough Councilman David Hodo

East Norriton Township Supervisor Lewis McQuirns

1 current member of the Boyertown School Board

1 current member of the Wyomissing School Board

Coatesville City Council members Patsy Ray and Kurt Schenk

What did Nancy Pelosi know?

Congressional Credit Card Reform a 'Charade,' Consumer Advocate Says

Congressional Credit Card Reform a 'Charade,' Consumer Advocate Says

SCORE Launches Online Advice and Networking Community for Small Business

SCORE Launches Online Advice and Networking Community for Small Business

Not a good day for incumbents

It looks like a lot of people too my earlier advice and voted out incumbents in Tuesday's primary election -- at least in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.

Longtime municipal and school board officials were ousted in many communities in the three Southeaster Pennsylvania counties.

This is only the beginning. The "throw-the-bums-out" attitude is spreading among voters and will continue into the November election ... and beyond.

The political class has every reason to worry. The electorate is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore.

Check out The Mercury's Web site for the latest results, which will be updated throughout the morning.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Follow Jim Gerlach on Twitter

From Congressman Jim Gerlach's office:
Gerlach Invites Constituents to Follow Him on Twitter

Washington – Congressman Gerlach has a new way to communicate what's going on in the 6th District and in Washington thanks to the social-networking site Twitter.

The congressman will begin posting messages -- or tweets – starting today. Visit the congressman's Web site at www.gerlach.house.gov for a link to Twitter to follow the congressman and receive updates on legislation, key votes, events and other items.

"I am excited about the chance to share information about the work we do each day with the people of the 6th District," Gerlach said. "Twitter offers a great opportunity to speak directly to constituents and hopefully enhances the service we provide to the district."

Twitter users can also find Congressman Gerlach's page at http://twitter.com/JimGerlach

Action Alert for PA Taxpayers

An ACTION ALERT for all Pennsylvania Taxpayers from Lowman S. Henry of The Lincoln Institute for Public Opinion Research:
THIS FRIDAY, the state House Appropriations Committee will be holding a public hearing on the state budget (specifically, the recently passed Senate Bill 850) in the Majority Caucus Room, Room 140 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg.

House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) wrote in an e-mail last week:

I want to make certain there is some public review. We will talk to experts on the various programs and general spending direction; however, I want to make certain we do hear from the taxpayers. As such, the hearing will be open for public comment on Senate Bill 850 beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, May 22 and continue through the afternoon.

You can guarantee that those who want HIGHER SPENDING and HIGHER TAXES will be given time to speak. But we want to make sure that the REAL TAXPAYERS are truly represented at this hearing.

However, if you want to speak, you must be invited by calling Rep. Evans' office at 717.783.8024. Of course, you can also show up to make sure that real taxpayers are seen if they are not allowed to speak.

Where are the voters?

I stopped by two voting places today in Berks County and there was not a single person in line at either polling site. (No, I wasn't trying to vote twice. The second site was a library that I frequent.)

Not only could I not find any voters, but there was only one candidate outside the first polling site handing out literature and no candidates at the second location.

The chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties in Berks were quoted in a newspaper last week expecting a high turnout. Not sure what they were smoking. I think this will be one of the lowest turnouts in primary history in Pennsylvania.

I have a theory about the dismal turnout. So many people are disgusted with the way last November's election turned out that they are soured on voting. Not just the Republicans who supported McCain, but a lot of people who voted for Obama are feeling like they were scammed by the "hope and change" candidate.

Pennsylvania DEP Accepting Applications for Watershed and Flood Protection Grants

Pennsylvania DEP Accepting Applications for Watershed and Flood Protection Grants

Rule No. 1 on Election Day

My No. 1 rule on any Election Day: "When in doubt, vote the incumbents out."

Keep that in mind as you go to the polls Tuesday to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election.

You already know how screwed up things are, so why send the same people back to do more damage?

If you recognize the name on the ballot, vote for the other person.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Who represents the taxpayer?

I received a flier over the weekend from four candidates running as a team for my local school board. I looked over the four-page flier and could not find a single reference to keeping property taxes from going up. Isn't that what we elect people to do on school boards?

School administrators have their own lobbying association in Harrisburg and typically do not live in the district so they don't care how high taxes go up each year. The teachers have the most powerful union in the state watching their back.

Who do the taxpayers have? Isn't the elected school board suppose to represent the interests of the beleaguered property owners who have seen their taxes go up 40 percent since Gov. Ed Rendell signed the casino gambling bill way back in 2004 with a promise that all Pennsylvania residents would see substantial property tax reduction?

If they're not looking out for the taxpayers of the district, what do the four candidates stand for?

According to their campaign literature, their platform consists of four items:
1) Responsive Budgeting (Translation: Rubber-stamp everything the administration wants to spend money on.)

2) Quality Education (Translation: Give the teachers' union everything it wants during contract negotiations.)

3) Improving the Quality of life for All Citizens -- Young and Old (Translation: Drive seniors out of the district with the highest tax rate in the county and prevent young people from being able to afford their first home by high taxes)

4) Preserving our Sense of Community (Translation: Fight any efforts to merge the smallest school district in the county with a neighboring district to save money, improve offerings for students and reduce property taxes).
I'm glad the four candidates dropped a flier in my mailbox to remind me which candidates I won't be voting for on Tuesday.

Didn't McCain Win in 2008?

VotesPA.com offers help for voting in primary

Use VotesPA.com to Prepare to Vote in Primary, Secretary Cortes Urges Pennsylvanians

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Some things your tax money shouldn't buy ...

State Capitol Roundup

Here's this week's State Capitol Roundup courtesy of state Rep. Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147):

Education Officials Push Forward with Questionable Graduation Exam Plans

As Pennsylvania faces a current $3 billion budget deficit and an uphill battle to craft a balanced state budget for next year, lawmakers are expressing major concerns over the Rendell administration signing a state contract for development of a new high school Graduation Competency Assessment program without legislative approval. A $201.1 million deal was reached this week between the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Data Recognition Corp. to develop "voluntary" exams for high school seniors. The state is already contracted with the same company for $91 million over the next three years on PSSAs, the state's existing and objectively validated assessment system. The idea of a new round of proficiency exams lacks broad support among many parents, students and legislators, as well as the education community, so much so that lawmakers enacted legislation to specifically prohibit development of GCAs last year. However, it appears the Rendell Administration feels they know better than others, as it continues to ignore alternative opinions.

Proposal to Allow Children to Remain on Parents' Insurance Plans Passes

Legislation permitting individuals through the age of 29 to remain on their parents' health insurance plans received the approval of the House this week. According to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, as many as 400,000 individuals, ages 19 to 29, are currently living in Pennsylvania without health insurance. Several officials note that high unemployment figures have exacerbated the problem, forcing otherwise qualified individuals to rely on part-time jobs with limited or no health benefits. The legislation is currently awaiting the governor's signature. House Republicans are hopeful other proposals to reform the state's health care industry will also be considered in the coming months. For more information on House Republicans' efforts, visit PAHouseGOP.com

Applicants Can Now Check Status of Property Tax/Rent Rebate Online

Individuals applying for tax rebates under the state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate program can now check the status of their application using a newly launched Web feature. Six weeks after a resident submits an application, he or she may visit the site to check the status. To use the system, individuals will need to have their Social Security number, date of birth, and the anticipated rebate amount. The new service will allow applicants to confirm the status, rebate amount and the date a rebate is expected to be mailed or directly deposited. The Department of Revenue will begin distributing rebate checks on July 1. To check the status of a rebate, individuals can visit RepMensch.com and click on "Where's My Property Tax Refund?"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cardinal Rigali Applauds Senate Re-Introduction of 'Pregnant Women Support Act,' Urges Passage

Cardinal Rigali Applauds Senate Re-Introduction of 'Pregnant Women Support Act,' Urges Passage

Grand Jury substantiates Real ID opposition, Rohrer says

Following the recent grand jury announcement that more than 45 people have been charged with issuing fraudulent drivers' licenses, state Rep. Sam Rohrer, prime sponsor of legislation to outlaw Real ID in Pennsylvania, issued the following statement:
This most recent debacle highlights my long-standing concerns with government entities taking and storing an individual's personally identifying information, often without their knowledge or consent. PennDOT has lost credibility over this fiasco; no driver can feel safe knowing that his or her personal information, including social security number and biometric data, is vulnerable to this kind of misconduct. In another example of the state yielding personal, constitutional rights to the federal government for the sake of federal funds, Pennsylvania adopted a facial recognition program with the stated intent to eliminate fraudulent or duplicate licenses. If we cannot trust PennDOT to hire honest employees at this most basic level of their security, how can we trust any government agency with any of our personal information?

Your security system is only as strong as the people in charge of it. I remain opposed to intrusive technology that not only doesn't catch the bad guys, but also compromises the innocent citizens and takes away their privacy rights. I call once again on Pennsylvania to stand up for the rights of Pennsylvanians to be secure in their persons. We simply cannot allow innocent citizens to have their personal information open to misuse at the very lowest levels.

The Real ID Act of 2005 was passed as part of a tsunami relief bill, and mandated states comply with several federal guidelines in the issuing of state drivers' licenses, including the use of biometric information. Rohrer introduced legislation this session, House Bill 1443, to join states across the nation in legislatively refusing to participate in the federal program.
For more, visit Rohrer's Web site, www.SamRohrer.com

Absentee Ballots For Primary Election Due Friday

Absentee Ballots For Primary Election Due Friday, Secretary Cortes Reminds Voters

Pennsylvania Voters Reminded of Primary Voting Rules, First-Time Voter ID Requirements

Pennsylvania Voters Reminded of Primary Voting Rules, First-Time Voter ID Requirements

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Murtha International Airport

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent endorses Toomey for Senate

The man who succeeded former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey in representing Pennsylvania's 15th Congressional District had nothing but nice things to say about his predecessor in a radio interview.

Moderate Republican Congressman Charlie Dent publicly endorsed Toomey for the U.S. Senate on WAEB this morning.

Listen to the endorsement at this link: http://www.toomeyforsenate.com/news/051409-audio.php

Among the compliments Dent offered:
"Pat is a man of great character, integrity, and he has a great intellect."

"Pat can bring people together ... He's a guy that is going to carry the message for the Republicans."

"Pat is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party for the United States Senate ... He is the front runner, and I believe he's going to be well-positioned and prepared to face whoever the Democrats nominate."

"I'm supporting him because I think he's a fine man, a friend, and I think he's going to be able to pull the Republican Party together. He's going to be able to unite people of different ideological persuasions."

"Pat Toomey, I would tell you, is probably as strong a leader and as knowledgeable as anyone on the federal budget as anybody I've met in Washington, to be perfectly candid."
This is a key endorsement because Dent is definitely not in the conservative camp that Toomey represents. It should open up the floodgates of endorsements for Toomey from the Pennsylvania GOP establishment. Like it or not, Toomey is the Republican Party's best chance to win a Senate seat in 2010.

Toomey released the following statement:
"I am honored to have Congressman Dent's support and I look forward to him playing an important role in my campaign. Charlie Dent is a great leader in Pennsylvania and in Congress. His dedication to his constituents and his country, his compassion, and his integrity are the reason Pennsylvania voters of all political stripes reelect him year after year."

"I look forward to campaigning with Congressman Dent over the next year and a half in support of our shared values. Together, we will win the fight to return prosperity to Pennsylvania taxpayers."

Toomey on the future of the GOP

GOP has plenty of room for honest debate

By Pat Toomey

Arlen Specter's defection to the Democratic Party provoked a firestorm of debate about the future of the Republican Party and its ability to become a majority party once again in America.

Many on the left have framed this question as a choice between purity and popularity. This is a false dichotomy designed to be a lose-lose proposition for the GOP. The better questions are: What guiding principles define the modern Republican Party? Where should the party be flexible and where must it be resolute?

Since the "tent" seems to be the preferred metaphor for addressing this issue, I will use it to make my case.

I see the tent's poles as the many ideas that animate the Republican Party. We can and should have a vibrant, ongoing debate about how many poles the tent should have and where they should be positioned.

Surely one of the poles supporting the Republican tent is a strong national defense. But whether and when to go to war, where to station troops overseas, and how much to spend and on what kinds of weapons are all subjects on which good Republicans can disagree.

Respect for the values that Western civilization has developed over many generations is another important pole. I believe that one aspect of this idea is to defend and protect innocent human lives, including those of unborn children. But I would certainly not suggest that those who disagree with the pro-life position be banished from the Republican tent.

Another pole almost all Republicans feel strongly about is fiscal discipline. Less government spending and lower taxes are important Republican precepts but exactly what level of spending and how much to tax are surely topics for endless debate among good Republicans. No one has a monopoly on the right answers to these inherently subjective fiscal questions.

A strong, diverse and healthy Republican Party should welcome an open and lively debate about these and other poles in our tent. But a tent consists of more than just poles. In fact, the purpose of the poles is to hold up the fabric that unifies the poles and provides the cooling shade that brings people to the tent in the first place. It is this unifying fabric, this common Republican cloth that is the essential defining characteristic of what it means to be a Republican.

This unifying idea is that personal freedom is the highest political goal of our great nation. It is not the only goal, but the most important. To achieve it necessarily means the power of government must be limited so it cannot excessively infringe on our freedom. All who embrace this transcendent theme should be welcome in the Republican tent.

Limited government and individual freedom were the primary principles of our nation's founding, and of our party's founding amid the anti-slavery movement. They must be the central theme of the Republican Party because they are so fundamental to our national identity, because they offer better solutions for the problems Americans face today and because they are under attack today as never before.

The modern Democratic Party is based on the opposite premise. Its highest goal is to attempt to achieve a society of more equal outcomes. Since they are not satisfied with the inequality of outcomes in a free society, like all quasi-utopians, they must rely on the coercive power of government to force the outcomes they seek.

Thus, the Democrats support exorbitant taxes on the productive; the redistribution of wealth; employment and academic quotas; increasing control over business; government-controlled health care, day care and education. The list goes on. And if the current Congress has its way, it will go on, and on, and on.

All of which is why today, perhaps more than ever before, the Republican Party has to stand in defense of individual freedom and must try to limit the power of the growing leviathan.

Arlen Specter never believed in limiting the power of government and defending the freedom of the individual. As long as he is wielding the levers of power, he wants that power to grow. His active cooperation with the current regime's massive expansion of government power was the straw that broke the camel's back for Pennsylvania Republicans. Or perhaps the last tearing of the fabric of freedom of the Republican tent.

That's the reason Mr. Specter fit so uncomfortably in the Republican tent. But for all of those out there who share the desire for more personal freedom and a less intrusive and growing government in Washington, the Republican Party's tent has the welcome mat out for you.

Pat Toomey, a former member of Congress from the Lehigh Valley, is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010.

Obama = Debt



The Heritage Foundation has a terrific Web site offering clear and concise information on the path Barack Obama is taking this county. Hint: It's a steep drop over the cliff.

Follow the link below for more:

Charts On Federal Spending, Taxes Make For Wealth of Data to Share

Environmental Radicals Are Obama's Achilles Heel: Blocking New Oil Drilling Will Bring Back $3-4 a Gallon Gas

Environmental Radicals Are Obama's Achilles Heel: Blocking New Oil Drilling Will Bring Back $3-4 a Gallon Gas

New Study: Small Business Owners Believe EFCA Hurts Job Creation

New Study: Small Business Owners Believe EFCA Hurts Job Creation

'Talking Politics' on radio today

If you're not sure who to vote for in Tuesday's Primary Election, you will be after tuning in to "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" today at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

"Talking Politics" can be heard every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. You can call the station at 610-326-4000 with questions or comments.

If you can't pick up the station's signal, you can listen to the program on your computer. The show is simulcast at www.pottsmerc.com and www.1370wpaz.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Large Employers Strongly Oppose New Taxes On 161 Million American Workers' Health Benefits

Large Employers Strongly Oppose New Taxes On 161 Million American Workers' Health Benefits

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Orders Flags at Half-Staff in Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Orders Flags at Half-Staff in Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day

The Modern Day Robber Barons

Chester County GOP losing ground

Primary elections in Pennsylvania are basically private events hosted by the respective political party. Under the state's closed-primary system, registered Democrats and registered Republicans will pick their fall candidates on May 19.

One of the main roles of the party chairman, both at the county and state level, is to avoid costly and potentially divisive infighting among candidates in their own party.

In this regard, Chester County GOP Chairman Joseph "Skip" Brion has failed.

A lot of attention has been given to the divided Republican Party in neighboring Montgomery County, where GOP turncoat Jim Matthews and former party chief Ken Davis have done irreparable damage to the party in recent years, opening the door for Democrats. A similar pattern is emerging in Chester County.

Brion is hurting the GOP in Chester County by allowing primary challengers against two incumbent Republican county row officers. Nothing good will come out of the races. Half the voters will go away mad and may not support the winner in November, helping the Democrats in the end.

Because of Brion's inability to show leadership, incumbent Chester County Treasurer Alan J. Randzin is facing a primary challenge from Ann Duke; and incumbent Clerk of Courts Teena A. Peters is being challenged by Frank McElwaine.

The Republican Party has been playing defense for most of Brion's tenure and primary fights will only weaken the party at a time it needs a united response to the growing threat from Democrats.

Chester County Democratic Party Chairwoman Michele Vaughn likes her party's chances against the once-dominant GOP.

"It's been refreshing to see how our party has come together," Vaughn told The Philadelphia Inquirer

More from the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer:
For years, Republicans faced little or no opposition in Chester County, a GOP fortress. However, the political landscape has changed.

Figures released last week show 149,842 registered Republicans and 125,728 Democrats, according to the county's Voter Services. A year ago, there were 147,257 Republicans and 111,916 Democrats. Ten years ago, Republicans outnumbered Democrats by a 2-1 ratio.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

School consolidation hearing planned for May 18

School officials and some of the people who might decide on the consolidation of school districts will meet Monday at the Montgomery County Community College West Campus in Pottstown.

The House Republican Policy Committee is conducting the hearing at the request of state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146th Dist.

The hearing takes place at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.

"Many people are interested in the proposal to consolidate Pennsylvania's school districts, but I have also spoken to those who are alarmed by the plan," Quigley said in written statement.

"School property taxes are a huge burden on people, but I am not convinced that school consolidation is the answer to lowering taxes," Quigley said. "Whatever method we choose to address the issue of school taxes, we must ensure that the priority remains providing the best education to Pennsylvania’s students."

Although the public is allowed into the hearing, it will not be an opportunity for the public to address the committee.

Five speakers have been scheduled to participate: John Armato, director of community relations for Pottstown School District; Reed Lindley, assistant superintendent of the Pottstown School District; Marsha Hurda, superintendent of the Spring-Ford School District; James Testerman, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and Greg White, an education consultant.

Consolidating Pennsylvania's public school districts from 500 to 100 was first proposed by Gov. Ed Rendell during his annual budget address in February. His plan involves creating a commission that would have on year to formulate two consolidation strategies. If the legislature does not approve either plan, Rendell would allow the state board of education to choose the strategy.

The issue of school consolidation was studied in 2006 by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee and the study found that districts of less than 3,000 students offer the most cost-effective scenarios for merger, Quigley said.

Based on enrollment figures and geography, the commission only identified 80 districts for possible consolidation.

"Certainly, if consolidation would lower school district operating costs without impacting the quality of education, it deserves examination," Quigley said. "I am looking forward to hearing the testimony of those who are closes to the issue."

Obama laughs it up with his far left pals

Pennsylvania State Police Place 326 Commercial Vehicles Out of Service After Air Brake Inspections

Pennsylvania State Police Place 326 Commercial Vehicles Out of Service After Air Brake Inspections

Pennsylvania Council Formed to Advise on Improving Services to Older Adults, People with Disabilities

Pennsylvania Council Formed to Advise on Improving Services to Older Adults, People with Disabilities

Majority of Americans Did Not Pay Attention to Bank Stress Tests; Vast Majority Say Results Don't Affect Views of Their Bank, New KRC Research Study Reveals

Majority of Americans Did Not Pay Attention to Bank Stress Tests; Vast Majority Say Results Don't Affect Views of Their Bank, New KRC Research Study Reveals

New Online Resource for Consumers, Athletes and Coaches Concerned About Athletic Banned Substances

New Online Resource for Consumers, Athletes and Coaches Concerned About Athletic Banned Substances

Not the same without newspapers



The Newspaper Project, the grassroots organization launched in February to support a constructive exchange of information and ideas about the future of newspapers, has released this new animated video by Bill Hinds, creator of the Tank McNamara cartoon series.

For more on The Newspaper Project, visit www.newspaperproject.org

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Reminder: Fly Flags at Half Staff On May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day

Reminder: Fly Flags at Half Staff On May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day

PennDOT Offers Safety Tips During Bicycle Safety Month

PennDOT Offers Safety Tips During Bicycle Safety Month

Firearms Industry Applauds 9th Circuit Court Ruling Dismissing Frivolous Lawsuit Against Firearms Manufacturers

Firearms Industry Applauds 9th Circuit Court Ruling Dismissing Frivolous Lawsuit Against Firearms Manufacturers

Monday, May 11, 2009

A guide to Democratic Doublespeak

Syndicated columnist Debra J. Saunders offers a handy guide to understanding Democratic Doublespeak in the Age of Obama.

From her latest column:
Doublespeak is alive as Democrats pull the strings in the White House and Congress 24 years after 1984. What do they mean when they engage in Democrat-speak?

I know I'm not worthy, but I've got an assignment, so I shall borrow a page from Ambrose Bierce, not with a Devil's Dictionary, but a Democrats' Dictionary. The easy part: There's no dif.
Here are some examples Saunders has uncovered:

Academic freedom: Full license to espouse liberal thought to unformed minds.

Bailout: Billions upon billions -- trillions really -- of government aid doled out to financial institutions to remind voters of the need for strong regulation.

Bipartisanship: 40 Republicans and 60 Democrats.

Clean coal: What Santa Claus puts in Democrats' stockings so they don't have to admit that their global-warming agenda is anti-coal.

CNN: Unbiased news network whose reporters battle "right-wing" media.

Deficits:
Overspending before 2009, or spending practices that President Obama inherited. For current usage, see: Investment.

Extremists: Abortion opponents.

Read the full column, "The Democrats' Dictionary," at RealClearPolitics.com

CQ Budget Tracker to Provide In-Depth Coverage of President Obama's Proposed 2010 Federal Budget

CQ Budget Tracker to Provide In-Depth Coverage of President Obama's Proposed 2010 Federal Budget

No Economic Recovery in Sight, Only Inflation

No Economic Recovery in Sight, Only Inflation

Saturday, May 9, 2009

'A dangerous gamble with our security'

You paid for it



The White House late Friday released the infamous NYC flyover photo ... and released the top Barack Obama aide responsible for the fiasco.

The April 27 photo-op, which panicked New Yorkers, ended up costing taxpayers $328,835. It also cost Louis Caldera, the White House official who authorized the stunt, his job as head of the White House Military Office.

From The Associated Press:
As former Army Secretary Caldera took the fall for the flyover, the White House put out the findings of an internal investigation that portrayed him as out of the loop in a cycle of missed messages and questionable judgments as plans for the photo shoot proceeded.

Caldera said he didn't know Air Force One would fly at 1,000 feet during the April 27 photo promotion, according to the investigation findings. He also failed to read an e-mail message describing the operation and seemed unaware of the potential for public fear, the findings said.

Local officials had been notified in advance. But it was a shock to New Yorkers who looked up to see the Boeing 747 and its fighter jet escort flying near the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan's financial district, a terrifying reminder of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in which jets brought down the two towers of the World Trade Center.
Just another day in the most incompetent administration to ever occupy the White House.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Friday, May 8, 2009

Over 20 Anti-Abortion Activists Arrested at Notre Dame

Dr. Alan Keyes in Jail; Over 20 Anti-Abortion Activists Arrested at Notre Dame

Schedule of National Police Week Events at The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

Schedule of National Police Week Events at The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

Where's the media outrage?

From NewsBusters:
Obama to Cut Slain Officer's Benefits in Half -- Where's Media Outrage?

By Warner Todd Huston | May 8, 2009

In a hypocrisy sure to outrage, just as Attorney General Eric Holder gets ready to attend a ceremony to honor fallen police officers, the Obama administration is proposing to cut almost in half a program that provides benefits to the families left behind.

So much for the more loving, more caring president "we've been waiting for." So, wouldn't you think the Old Media would be braying at the hypocrisy here? Wouldn't you rather think that the Old Media would be up in arms about this one? Isn't this typically the type of story that would get them motivated to get their high dudgeon on? Guess not because it is nearly invisible in the media today.

High School Students Urge Motorists to 'Drive Safe PA'

High School Students Urge Motorists to 'Drive Safe PA'

FY '10 Federal Budget Request Falls Short for Ports

FY '10 Federal Budget Request Falls Short for Ports

GOP introduces the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act



House Republicans have introduced the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act, requiring pre-approval from governors and state legislatures to transfer or release any terrorist detainee into their respective state.

The legislation establishes strict criteria and certification standards that must be met before any detainee is released into the United States.

The Democrats control the House and Senate, but let's see one Democratic member of Congress vote against this bill. Let them explain to their constituents back home how bringing the world's most dangerous terrorists to American soil will make them safer. It's one thing for Barack Obama to pander to the far-left loons of the Democratic Party, but every member of the House has to stand for re-election in 2010.

Stand for the safety of Americans or stand with America's enemies. This issue alone will help Republicans win back the House in 2010.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Small Business Owners Fear EFCA

Small Business Owners Fear EFCA

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The terrorist next door

Chester County primary candidates

The Pottstown Mercury has a list of municipal and school board candidates from the Chester County portion of its coverage area. Check it out at the newspaper's Web site.

35 Girl Scouts from Eastern Pennsylvania Earn Gold Awards -- Girl Scouts' Highest Honor

35 Girl Scouts from Eastern Pennsylvania Earn Gold Awards -- Girl Scouts' Highest Honor

'Talking Politics' on the radio today

Tune in to "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" today at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

"Talking Politics" can be heard every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM.

You can call the station at 610-326-4000 with questions or comments.

If you can't pick up the station's signal, you can listen to the program anywhere in the world on your computer. The show is simulcast at www.pottsmerc.com and www.1370wpaz.com

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Business group backs PA Senate budget

The Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association applauds the Republican-controlled state Senate for adopting a $27.3 billion balanced budget.

The Senate vote was 30-20, with all Republicans backing the budget and every Democrat rejecting it.

While the current General Fund budget is $3 billion in the red, Gov. Ed Rendell has proposed a budget for 2009-2010 that is least $1.4 billion in the hole – even under the governor's most economic assumptions, according to the association.

"On behalf of the employers who generate the largest portion of Pennsylvania's economy, we applaud the sober, responsible, and principled action of the state Senate," PMA Executive Director David N. Taylor said in a written statement. "By approving a sustainable, balanced budget for 2009-2010 and thereafter, the Senate has demonstrated leadership of the highest order. Rather than raising taxes, mortgaging the future with higher debt, or allowing an even greater budgetary crisis in the future, thirty senators today chose to face economic reality, for which Pennsylvania’s taxpayers are profoundly grateful."

The business group believes elected officials need to tighten their belts.

"At a time when households and employers are cutting back, it makes sense for state government to also exercise thrift," Taylor said, "even when some of the reductions come from programs that are intended to help business. Closing the budget gap with higher taxes on the productive sector would further damage Pennsylvania's underperforming economy. These pro-growth senators deserve great credit for working to thwart a budget outcome like the one in 1991, which crippled Pennsylvania's competitiveness for a generation."

The PMA singled out Lt. Governor Joe Scarnati, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, and Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman for their "indispensable leadership in this budget process."

"Joe Scarnati's early commitment to a no-tax-increase budget set the Majority caucus on a principled path from the outset," Taylor said. "Sen. Pileggi has unified the caucus behind the common-sense approach of accepting short-term spending cuts rather than sacrificing long-term growth by raising taxes. And in his first budget as Appropriations Chairman, Sen. Corman's painstaking committee work and compelling floor debate prove that he belongs in the top ranks of leadership."

Time is money

See How Many Work Hours it Really Takes to Buy Something on Your Salary

Nation's Letter Carriers Prepared for 50-State Food Drive Saturday

Nation's Letter Carriers Prepared for 50-State Food Drive Saturday

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sign petition to eliminate property taxes

Pennsylvania has posted a breakdown by school district of how much property tax savings qualified homeowners can expect to see this year under Gov. Ed Rendell's idea of "tax relief."

The Pennsylvania Department of Education says there is $613 million available from slot parlors for school property tax relief, which is not exactly the $1 billion minimum Gov. Rendell promised when he signed the slots bill into law in 2004.

"For many homeowners the amount of the relief is about the same as last year and varies between $32 and $641, depending on your school district," notes the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition. "Don't get too excited about your huge and historic (Gov. Rendell's words) 'relief' money and don't plan to spend all of it in one place!"

Like many of Rendell's promises since he came into office in 2003, property tax relief remains elusive.

As state Rep. Sam Rohrer, R-Berks, noted when he announced the re-introduction of House Bill 1275 earlier this week:
"When we first introduced the idea of school property tax elimination, our proposal ran parallel with Gov, Rendell's proposal to use gambling proceeds to relieve — never solve — the property tax burden. Here we are, seven years later, and homeowners have received just one payment, and a pittance at that, to help with their taxes. Had we enacted the School Property Tax Elimination Act back then, we would have already passed through the four-year phase out. Homeowners would not only be free from paying any school property taxes, but the state would have had the time to build up the excess revenue in order to weather this current economic storm."
The PTCC, which is a coalition of more than two dozen tax groups across the state, is backing House Bill 1275, The Property Tax Elimination Act, re-introduced by Rep. Rohrer. HB 1275 would phase out all school property taxes over a four-year period.

The PTCC has launched a petition drive urging lawmakers to co-sponsor Rohrer's bill. You can sign the petition online or download copies to gather signatures at the group's Web site, http://ptcc.us

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Pitts on House Dems tax loopholes for supporters

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rep. Sam Rohrer introduces new-and-improved property tax elimination plan

Give state Rep. Sam Rohrer credit for tenacity.

The veteran Berks County lawmaker, who has earned a statewide reputation for his efforts to eliminate the much-hated property tax, is going to give it another try.

Rohrer has introduced a new version of the the School Property Tax Elimination Act in the state House of Representatives, where the Republican lawmaker is now the minority chairman of the Finance Committee.

Earlier versions of the plan failed to win enough support to pass in the Democratic-controlled House, but Rohrer has a new argument in pushing the bill.

The elimination of property taxes would jumpstart Pennsylvania's economy by allowing homeowners to keep billions of dollars they are now forced to pay for public education.

"Compared to the federal stimulus of $18 billion over three years, the SPTEA would infuse approximately $7 billion annually into the economy, as homeowners are freed from their onerous property tax bills," Rohrer said in a written statement. "The magnitude of the plan simply dwarfs any other options, without using government spending or subsidies, and puts billions into the hands of our citizens to pay their bills, invest in the economy or support local businesses.

"No tax should have the power to leave you homeless," Rohrer continued. "Seniors citizens, retired couples, young families, recently laid-off workers—through no fault of their own, all these people are standing on the precipice of losing their homes, as their pensions have plummeted and incomes have been reduced or even eliminated. For families struggling to make mortgage payments, this plan offers the only true hope of remaining in their homes and securing their home ownership."

Instead of relying on local school property taxes, school districts would receive their primary source of funding from an expanded state sales tax. The sales tax rate would remain at 6 percent, but would be expanded to include some currently tax-exempt items. Food, clothing, prescription medications and other essential items and services would not be taxed under Rohrer's plan. The tax elimination bill also would use new rent and royalty payments generated through expanded natural gas harvesting activities on state forest lands to fund Pennsylvania schools.

Rohrer is quick to point out his play is much different than those offered by House Democrats, which would reduce, but not eliminate, property taxes.

"Partial reduction is not the answer," Rohrer stated. "Taxes continue to rise unabated, and the governor's so-called 'Property Tax Relief Fund' barely makes a dent in what most taxpayers have to pay. It's a political response, designed to alleviate the problem and never solve it, and it has distracted from the real issue. The only solution is complete and total elimination."

Under Rohrer's plan, funds from the expanded state sales tax and the revenues from Marcellus Shale natural gas development would be deposited into a newly created Education Operating Fund. The money in the fund would be used to implement a four-year phase out of school district property taxes. The phase-out would ensure a smooth transition into the new system without disrupting normal operations of either schools or businesses.

"When we first introduced the idea of school property tax elimination, our proposal ran parallel with Gov. Rendell's proposal to use gambling proceeds to relieve—never solve—the property tax burden," Rohrer said. "Here we are, seven years later, and homeowners have received just one payment, and a pittance at that, to help with their taxes. Had we enacted the SPTEA back then, we would have already passed through the four-year phase out. Homeowners would not only be free from paying any school property taxes, but the state would have had the time to build up the excess revenue in order to weather this current economic storm."

The School Property Tax Elimination Act will be introduced as House Bill 1275, the same number it had in the last legislative session, when Democrats scuttled the bill.

For more information about the proposal, visit Rohrer's Web site at SamRohrer.com

Obama's Proposal to Double-Tax Profits Will Kill U.S. Jobs

Obama's Proposal to Double-Tax Profits Will Kill U.S. Jobs

Secretary Cortes Reminds Pennsylvanians About Absentee Ballot Deadlines

Secretary Cortes Reminds Pennsylvanians About Absentee Ballot Deadlines

Forget the Swine Flu and Prepare for Hyperinflation

Forget the Swine Flu and Prepare for Hyperinflation

Primary Election candidates in Berks County

Are you getting excited about the May 19 Primary Election?

The Pottstown Mercury has published a list of candidates running for school board and municipal office in eastern Berks County.

Check out the candidates at the newspaper's Web site.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Meese Weighs in on Souter's Retirement and What's Next

Meese Weighs in on Souter's Retirement and What's Next

Statement by Michael Reagan on Supreme Court Justice Souter's Retirement

Statement by Michael Reagan on Supreme Court Justice Souter's Retirement

Rendell leaves massive debt in PA

Pennsylvania took in nearly $1 billion less than anticipated in tax revenues for the month of April, sending the state's already massive budget deficit to historic levels.

The state collected $3 billion in General Fund revenue in April, but that was $941.5 million, or 24.2 percent below what state officials projected, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

The state has been operating in the red every month since the fiscal year began last July 1, but the April numbers were much higher than previous monthly deficits, which were running about 7 percent below estimates.

Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $21.7 billion, which is $2.6 billion, or 10.5 percent, below estimate, Secretary of Revenue Stephen H. Stetler said.

Gov. Ed Rendell had been predicting a $2.3 billion deficit by the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, but the April numbers will probably send the deficit past the $3 billion mark.

"Tax revenues in April are sobering evidence of the harsh effect the national recession has had on Pennsylvania's workers and businesses," Rendell said in a written statement issued late Friday afternoon. "Though Pennsylvania's Personal Income Tax rate is one of the lowest in the nation, it still accounts for nearly 40 percent of our General Fund revenues, and that category alone was 30 percent below estimate."

To close the potential $3 billion gap, Rendell said he wants the Legislature to tap into the state's Rainy Day Fund, which contains about $750 million, and the Healthcare Provider Retention Account.

"There are signs the overall economy is heading toward recovery, but this is a very volatile time and the pain of this recession is widespread," Rendell said.

Previous measures Rendell took to control state spending include a hiring freeze, which has been violated at least 100 times by his administration, and a ban on out-of-state travel, which has also been ignored by some state officials.

April tax collection revenues were down in every category.

From a report released by Secretary Stetler:
Sales tax receipts totaled $688.4 million for April, $70.9 million below estimate. Sales tax collections, year-to-date, total $6.9 billion, which is $421.2 million, or 5.8 percent, less than anticipated.

Personal income tax (PIT) revenue in April was $1.5 billion, $651.4 million below estimate. This brings year-to-date PIT collections to $8.7 billion, which is $1 billion, or 10.6 percent, below estimate.

April corporation tax revenue of $493.5 million was $123.2 million below estimate. Year-to-date corporation tax collections total $4.3 billion, which is $491.4 million, or 10.2 percent, below estimate.

Other General Fund revenue figures for the month included $69.5 million in inheritance tax, $8.8 million below estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $639.1 million, which is $83.7 million below estimate.

Realty transfer tax was $18.5 million for April, $13.2 million below estimate, bringing the total to $248.7 million for the year, which is $93 million less than anticipated.

Other General Fund tax revenue including cigarette, malt beverage and liquor taxes totaled $89.1 million for the month, $1.7 million below estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $874.9 million, which is $10.8 million below estimate.

Non-tax revenue totaled $119.5 million for the month, $72.3 million below estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $43.1 million, which is $422.9 million below estimate.

In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $330 million for the month, $3.5 million below estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $2.2 billion, which is $105.5 million, or 4.6 percent, below estimate.


Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Friday, May 1, 2009

Many Missteps in the First 100 Days

By Congressman Joe Pitts

We just passed the 100 day mark in President Obama's Administration. This marker has become a milestone by which to reflect on the tone set by a new Administration. President Obama won the White House promising to bring change to Washington. He and his Democratic colleagues, who control both houses of Congress, promised to end "politics as usual." The President promised to reach out to Republicans and work with us when possible. I said from the very beginning I looked forward to working with the him on ways to move our country forward.

Unfortunately, the "change" has been more of the same. The partisanship in Washington is every bit as bad as it has ever been, if not worse. And the President, along with Senator Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have essentially shut us out of the policy making process, forcing a take-it-or-leave-it approach to law making. This lop-sided approach has been used to pass policies that tax, spend, and borrow too much; make our nation less safe; violate the conscience of pro-life Americans; expand government; and nationalize our industries.

I am saddened that these first hundred days have seen very little in the way of compromise from either the White House or my colleagues on Capitol Hill. There have been too many missteps, broken promises, and misplaced priorities during these first hundred days.

President Obama promised during his campaign he would not hire lobbyists to serve in his administration and then proceeded to appoint 17 during his first two weeks.

The President ordered Guantanamo Bay closed without laying out any plans for what to do with the terrorist suspects held there. He also released classified CIA memos explaining to our enemies our interrogation techniques and demoralizing our intelligence community.

Democrats in Congress passed legislation, which the President signed, that will shut down a popular school choice program in the District of Columbia that serves poor children in otherwise dangerous and failing schools, even though the President and many Members of Congress choose to send their own children to private schools.

President Obama has said, regarding abortion, that no matter what our views on the issue, "we must work to find common ground." Yet, during his first 100 days in office, his policies mean controversial abortion groups will be eligible for international family planning money; life-destroying research will be eligible for more of the taxpayer's dollars; medical professionals' right to practice according to their conscience will be under threat; and contentious organizations like Planned Parenthood will be granted hard-working American tax dollars.

Then there is the taxing, spending, and borrowing, where the numbers are absolutely staggering. President Obama and this Congress make the Bush deficits they railed against look trivial in comparison.

This Congress has saddled our children and grandchildren with debt, mortgaging their future. Since the first of the year, they have authorized $350 billion in TARP, tens of billions of dollar bailouts to failing automakers, $787 billion in stimulus, $410 billion in omnibus appropriations, and a recently passed $3.5 trillion budget. Most of this money is borrowed.

The omnibus spending bill contained over 8,000 earmarks. The President signed the bill on the same day he held a press conference to discuss reforming and getting tough on earmarks.

The President and Democrats in Congress have proposed a cap and trade plan that would amount to a trillion dollar tax on the American people for going about their daily lives. This plan amounts to a wealth transfer program from American families to government bureaucrats. The President has proposed using the money not on developing new energy technologies, but on government-run healthcare.

The President and Congress took advantage of the economic crisis by larding the stimulus with long-frustrated liberal policies including establishing a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research to start our country down the path to government run healthcare where bureaucrats will ration health care and dictate what treatments you may receive.

Then, in a public relations move, the President convened a cabinet meeting and asked his cabinet secretaries to find $100 million in savings in the federal budget, an amount equal to 0.0025 percent of the President's proposed budget. Or, put another way, this amount is just three years worth of salary for the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez.

I will continue looking for ways to work with the President and my colleagues in Congress for the betterment of our country, but these first hundred days have not set a good tone for the rest of President Obama's Administration.