Monday, May 20, 2013
The Office of Administration says server outages may be a thing of the past once its new contract for web services with NIC is up and running.
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — A state lawmaker continues to raise red flags about a website redesign and management contract. Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver, said this week he’s concerned the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett knew it would pay millions to NIC USA, a government website design and management firm, even though the contract was entered as a “self-funded” agreement. NIC provides “eGovernment” services in 28 other states, all of which operate on a self-funded model, relying on fees added to transactions business and individuals may make online. Pennsylvania is the only state to authorize a sole-source contract. Matzie said three work orders totaling about $2.6 million are proof the administration knew this …
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, Pennsylvanians for Accountability, targeted four GOP lawmakers in November and is now airing TV ads attacking Corbett’s education policies.
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent HARRISBURG — A new political nonprofit claims to be holding Gov. Tom Corbett accountable on behalf of Pennsylvanians. But the group comes up short on the accountability scale, itself. The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit is called Pennsylvanians for Accountability, and in recent weeks it has been airing television ads attacking Corbett’s policies for supposedly short-changing education in order to fund corporate tax breaks. An article published Wednesday by Public Source, an investigative reporting organization based in Pittsburgh, calls attention to the group. The ads blast Corbett for playing a “shell game” that cuts money from education and forcing districts to lay-off teachers while “bankrolling big tax cuts …
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Privatization debates in the Pennsylvania General Assembly could mean changes to where Pennsylvanians can buy six packs.
Saturday, May 18
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — A simple six-pack of beer is becoming a focal point of the most substantive legislative debate on Pennsylvania alcohol laws since Prohibition. A Tuesday afternoon Senate Law and Justice Committee on liquor privatization, headed by Chairman Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, featured numerous testifiers discussing the already-private industry of beer sales. Chief among the concerns from the beer distributor industry and taverns is package reform, or allowing establishments who sell beer to sell different amounts. Under current law, beer distributors cannot sell less than a case, and bars or grocery stores with the ability to sell bottles cannot sell more than a 12-pack. The Senate, under McIlhinney’s…
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Pennsylvania’s Sen. Pat Toomey called for a congressional investigation into the IRS target scandal in a Monday statement.
Thursday, May 16
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — Both of Pennsylvanians U.S. senators said they want to see the IRS investigated for its targeted treatment of conservative political groups. Their sentiments were released on Monday, several days after the IRS publicly stated it had targeted treatment of groups that had “tea party” or “patriot” in their names in applications for tax-exempt status. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said the issue should concern members of any political party, and that he’d like to see the matter as part of a congressional investigation. “The IRS’s actions are akin to an enemies list and further contribute to the deep cynicism that many Americans have about the government,” Toomey’s statement said. In a similar …
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
An audit of the state liquor control board show the agency overstated its assets by more than $1 million over the last year.
Wednesday, May 15
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent HARRISBURG – An audit of the state liquor control board reveals that the state agency responsible for selling and regulating the consumption of wine and liquor overstated its assets by more than $1 million during the past fiscal year. The audit, quietly released in March and uncovered by Keri Andren of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for a story published over the weekend, was conducted by the state auditor general and looked at the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2012. It shows that the PLCB does not regularly take a physical inventory, leading to the inaccurate information on financial statements. Andren explains: The audit found that in a random sample of 10 items from the LCB’s list of assets, six items …
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
A Monday hearing of the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee involved testimony on adding a fee for commercial records requests.
Tuesday, May 14
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — North Cornwall Township Manager Robin Getz said she sees the municipality’s employees spending too much time fulfilling open-records requests made to earn someone else money. That’s why she’s urging the state legislature to provide a fee structure for records submissions made for commercial purposes. “Our staff is performing the duty for a business, which is further resulting in their efforts being taken away from the taxpayers that they are there to serve,” Getz said. “Government should not be utilized as promoters for any business.” Getz was one of about a dozen people who testified in front of the Senate State Government Committee on Monday. The hearing concerned a proposed update to …
Monday, May 13, 2013
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille says the prime concerns for the judiciary branch are financial, and widespread understanding of the purpose of the courts.
Monday, May 13
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — In Pennsylvania, the judicial system isn’t much different than the other two branches of government when it comes to worrying about money. A 2013 State of the Commonwealth’s Courts report released this week shows the court system is working to cut its costs as it prepares for a slight decrease in funding next year. “At one-half of one percent of the state budget, the judiciary’s lean budget has never had deep pockets for easy savings,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille said in the report. Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget for the 2013-2014 year provides $308.1 million for the judiciary, down from $309.2 million this year, as the court requests $324 million. The report shows a few …
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ron Castille gave the reapportionment commission a passing grade, barely, on their second try at drawing a new electoral map.
Sunday, May 12
By PA Independent HARRISBURG — In a capital city teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and the first city in the nation to be charged by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission with misleading investors, the Pennsylvania state government is beginning the process of putting together a budget. Pension costs and transportation spending will loom large in the new budget, which will get its first legislative vetting next week. Gov. Tom Corbett has talked about the looming danger that Pennsylvania’s $47 billion public pension debt poses to the state budget. This week, he made it clear how that would affect the household budget as well. At the current level, the unfunded pension liability would cost each household in Pennsylvania more than…
State Sen. Charles McIlhinney, R-Bucks, is at the center of the liquor privatization fight.
Sunday, May 12
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent HARRISBURG – In April 2010, there was a party in Newtown, Bucks County — a political fundraiser, like dozens or perhaps hundreds of similar events held across the state that election cycle. But this was different, an illustration of how complicated Pennsylvania politics can be. It was held at the Temperance House, an ironic name, perhaps, since the restaurant is owned by Pasquale “Pat” Deon, a businessman who owns a chain of beer distributors in the Philadelphia suburbs. Deon also chairs the board that governs SEPTA, serves on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and is a major player in Republican politics. The event raised money – tens of thousands of dollars, according to campaign finance reports – for a …
Saturday, May 11, 2013
In a unanimous decision announced Wednesday, the state Supreme Court upheld a redistricting plan drawn by a commission of legislative leaders and ordered it to be used for the next round of legislative elections in 2014.
Saturday, May 11
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent HARRISBURG – Yesterday, the state Supreme Court unanimously approved new state House and Senate districts that will be in place for the 2014 election cycle. The new maps are drawn to reflect population changes in the state since the last redistricting in 2001, and by necessity some districts have to be literally picked up from one place and plopped down in another – moving out of areas where there is low population growth and into areas where people are moving. When the new maps were first drawn last year – before the 2012 elections – the five state House districts headed for the moving van were all occupied by retiring lawmakers. The idea was to keep any incumbents from having their districts yanked out …