Scarnati: “We are not sending the governor a severance tax”

Scarnati: “We are not sending the governor a severance tax”

A negotiating session over Pennsylvania’s energy issues that lead to a discussion on a natural gas severance tax broke down after about 45 minutes as Republicans at the negotiating table refused to accept any severance tax on natural gas extracts.

“We are not sending the governor a severance tax,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) upon leaving Wednesday’s meeting. “We’re working in the timeframe of June 30 and there is no severance tax on the table and I don’t see the future of a severance tax on the table as we work today.”

Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) also took part in the discussions and said the current impact fee is working and the issue of getting additional money from natural gas should be left at that.

“We do not understand why there’s a punitive approach to this industry,” he said. “It has been behind significant job growth…and it smacks to me that for political purposes the governor is interested in shutting down that job growth and shutting down our drive for energy independence."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Bills aimed at more transparent collective bargaining make their way to the House Floor

Bills aimed at more transparent collective bargaining make their way to the House Floor

Two Senate bills that sponsors say would bring more transparency to collective bargaining negotiations made their way out of the House State Government Committee Tuesday morning and now head to the House Floor for consideration.

Senate Bill 644 by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) would require the Independent Fiscal Office to conduct a fiscal impact study of any collective bargaining agreement before it is officially enacted.

“Senate Bill 644 represents an ongoing effort to bring openness and transparency to state government,” Sen. Folmer said of his bill. “[It] does this by focusing on the cost, not on the details associated with the Commonwealth’s collective bargaining agreements.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Impasse or progress? Budget negotiators spin status of talks

Impasse or progress? Budget negotiators spin status of talks

Budget principals left Tuesday’s closed-door discussion calling the relatively short meeting a planning session to set the stage for the coming week’s negotiations.

However, the progress of the overall negotiations was cast in different shades by different negotiators.

Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) continued to say there remains a wide gulf on issues that should be on the table for discussion.

“If the governor is not willing to move, we are prepared to move on pension reform and liquor privatization,” he said. “The Senate leadership and the House leadership—the Republicans—are moving forward together on making sure we have a responsible budget done on time if the governor is not willing to move on important issues.”

He said that budget will be done by the June 30 deadline.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Sen. Wagner: “Tom Wolf is trying to play the CEO of the Pennsylvania Corporation”

Sen. Wagner: “Tom Wolf is trying to play the CEO of the Pennsylvania Corporation”

Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) sounded off on a number of issues at Monday’s Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon including his views on public pension reform, liquor privatization, education funding, and special interests.

Sen. Wagner also had some very pointed remarks about Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow York County businessman whom he has known for a number of years.

Asked if Gov. Wolf is governing as he would expect, Sen. Wagner said he is not.

“Tom Wolf is a nice guy. Tom Wolf I believe is trying to play CEO of the Pennsylvania Corporation,” he said. “It’s almost like: ‘If you need me come get me.’”

Monday, June 22, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Conditions already placed on use of fairer education funding formula?

Conditions already placed on use of fairer education funding formula?

Bipartisanship and cheer abounded at the Capitol Thursday for those taking part in the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission, which included representatives from all four legislative caucuses and the governor’s office, when they unanimously released their long-anticipated funding formula recommendations and other education funding suggestions.

The commission’s recommended funding formula was described as taking into account both student-based and district-based factors that are aimed at providing funding that is truly representative of a district’s needs and unique situation.

However, while many are anticipating swift action on legislative implementation of the commission’s recommendations, some are already putting preconditions on when it would be best to implement the new funding formula.

“There are certainly a group of struggling school districts it would take a number of years back to a basic, functional school district and that—in our view—is not an acceptable funding decision with new resources for the 15-16 fiscal year,” said Budget Secretary Randy Albright, a member of the commission.

Thursday, June 18, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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