Archive: March, 2010
Gov. Rendell is warning natural gas companies not to fight his proposed tax on Marcellus Shale drilling, saying public opinion might turn against the idea.
Pennsylvania lost out in the first round for federal Race to the Top education money.
Greece isn’t alone in having more debt than it can handle. Some states, like New York and California, have also run out of ways to hide their long-standing fiscal imbalances.
Just a quick note: Speaking about the case of a Dept. of Revenue supervisor who allegedly solicited a cash payment from a contractor, District Attorney Seth Williams made this statement:
"There is no public service that is provided by the City of Philadelphia where people are supposed to pay cash."
This is definitely wrong. Check out Anthony's January story on the forms of payment accepted by different city departments. The point of the story was that the city can do a lot better with the range of payment forms it accepts, but as you can see in the chart at the link, it does in fact accept cash for water bills, recording fees, pet licensing, health center services, fire alarm license fees and fines, probate fees, marriage licenses, city taxes, numerous court fees including bail, traffic tickets and child support, and gas bills. Basically, lots of stuff.
We were just saying on Friday how, even though there are important differences between the recent cases of city employees being prosecuted for corruption and the revelation that outgoing Managing Director Camille Barnett is eligible for a pension disproportionate to her service (the most important difference being that the pension is legal), examples like this cause a similar frustration.
Today, the DN spells this out:
These may seem like disparate examples, but they all combine in undercutting the city's position that everyone has to sacrifice in order to get through tough times. They do even less to boster the city's position that there is nothing to cut in the budget, and the only solution is raising revenues by new or higher taxes.
Yesterday, in an editorial praising the State House for passing an early budget, the Inquirer quoted House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans explaining why the House didn't include a tax on natural gas drilling that the governor had proposed:
Evans hasn't ruled out a tax on natural gas drillers, but said, "I don't see the political support."
This is one of the most frustrating arguments we hear from elected officials. Over and over, a sensible proposal is shot down because it doesn't have political support. When will policy-makers realize that part of their job is to create a constituency for good ideas?
Thought the debate about gambling was over? Think again. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers has joined together to renew a push to expand the games of chance non-profits use to raise money. The bill would mean bigger prizes for 50/50 drawings, poker tournaments, and casino nights at local charities.
Solobay and Republican Rep. Sheryl Delozier on Friday urged House leaders to move forward with the small games bill.
"Our community groups are struggling to meet their expenses and fund projects and services throughout our local communities," Delozier said. "This legislation has bipartisan support."
It looks like the cash-strapped city of Harrisburg is preparing to miss a debt payment.
The state should find out today whether its bid to get $400 million in federal Race to the Top education money was successful.
The Inky examines how different New Jersey school districts are responding to Gov. Christie’s call to freeze teacher pay.
MAYOR NUTTER's proposals to tax sugary drinks and collect yearly fee for residential trash services have generated fierce debate. The administration says it welcomes other ideas for filling the budget gap. Naturally, that requires having the budget available for people to look at; we need that transparency even in good years.
Unless you visit the Municipal Services Building, you can't see the budget. As of Friday the city had yet to post budget detail online- despite that Nutter gave his budget address a month ago, and provided the information to City Council last week.
While the city may want to save money by printing fewer copies (last year's budget exceeded 1,000 pages), it's hard to fathom why it's still not online. City officials say that assembling budget detail for every city department is complicated, and the material will be available shortly.
Over at Philly Deals, Joseph DiStefano is pushing back against a recent NPR report that claims Pennsylvania has the riskiest investment portfolio of any state pension fund in the country. According to DiStefano, NPR is exaggerating the problem and missing the real issue facing public pension systems.
Here is the crux of the NPR story:
NPR applies a simple analysis that ranks bonds and cash as the safest investments. The more a state fund keeps in other kinds of investments - stocks, private investments, hedge funds, real estate - the more "risky".