In 2018, over 50,000 students were denied education scholarships through the EITC (Education Improvement Tax Credit) and OSTC (Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit) due to a lack of funds thanks to statutory limits. There is currently a waiting list of eligible businesses willing to provide $80 million to the programs in exchange for the tax credits offered. Who could possibly think that standing in the way of expanding educational opportunities is a good idea? The answer is, sadly, Governor Tom Wolf.
Almost immediately after passage, Governor Wolf announced his intention to veto HB 800. The legislation would have increased the EITC and OSTC limits by a combined $100 million. The bill would have also expanded scholarship eligibility to include more middle-class families. Despite his lofty rhetoric that a zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of a student’s education, his veto guaranteed that children will be trapped in failing schools. Pennsylvania currently spends more than $16,000 per student, on average, per year. Despite that amount being well over the national average, too many schools fail to provide the education that students deserve.
The EITC and OSTC provide assistance to families who live in school districts that underperform and allow students an opportunity to reach their full potential. Our friends at the Commonwealth Foundation estimated that the increased tax credits and eligibility requirements in HB 800 would have benefited 90,000 students over the next five years.
Expanding educational opportunities and empowering parents should be a bipartisan issue, but it isn’t. Thanks to the opposition from teachers’ unions and their allies in the Governor’s Mansion and General Assembly, Pennsylvania’s students pay the price.
Wolf Vetoes Work Requirement For Adults On Welfare
By Leo Knepper
Back in July the House passed legislation that would have added work requirements to the welfare code. As we noted then:
“In our research, we found that nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvania families who were required to engage in job search activities or training for the federal “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families”(TANF) program participated in ZERO hours of qualified activities (see page 17). Although the qualifications for TANF are different than for medical assistance, the similarities of the populations made it a reasonable comparison. If a greater percentage of medical assistance recipients specifically, and welfare recipients in general, were required to engage in work search activities it could have a remarkable effect reducing the number of families needing assistance and a positive impact on Pennsylvania’s finances in the medium to long term.
“In 2014, Maine required “able-bodied childless adults” (ABCAs) to work, train, or volunteer on a part-time basis to continue to qualify for food stamps. In two years the number of ABCAs receiving food stamps dropped by 90 percent. First, imagine the saving that taxpayers in Pennsylvania would reap if we instituted the same requirements. Second, imagine how that would benefit the states revenue collection. If all of those people who were currently receiving assistance that could work but weren’t, returned to the workforce it would be a long-term boon for Pennsylvania.”
Similar language to the House bill made it into the final welfare code. Although it was narrower in scope than the House legislation, Governor Wolf vetoed the changes. Medical assistance payments account for nearly 30 percent of the Pennsylvania budget. Based on what happened in other states, adding work requirements for able bodied adults is a commonsense way to lower costs and encourage beneficiaries to reenter the workforce. Unfortunately, Governor Wolf is not interested in lowering the bill for taxpayers. He only seems interested in raising taxes on hardworking Pennsylvanians.
Last Sunday I attended an event in St. Louis, and I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Steve Bannon. And oh boy, the liberals have come completely unglued, especially Tom Wolf.
The Governor was so unnerved, that he scampered right over to his computer and “cried racist” — again. This time in an email to supporters.
Let’s call this exactly what it is: a classic liberal distraction. He wants to change the focus — and who can blame him?
If I was Governor Wolf, I’d want to change the focus, too.
If I was Tom Wolf, I’d want to talk about anything other than his inability to balance a budget — which has earned him his second credit downgrade since he took office, and left local governments scrambling for the funds they need to operate.
There are many things Governor Wolf would rather not discuss.
Where does a broke, big-spending governor, with bad credit and no conscience look for more money? If you guessed your wallet, you guessed right.
Tom Wolf would prefer not to get into those details.
I’m on a mission to get rid of career politicians that attach themselves to government and drain the wallets of hard working Pennsylvanians. I see a new day for the citizens of this commonwealth and an end to epic mismanagement, waste, fraud and abuse.
My mission makes Tom Wolf extremely uncomfortable.
He sees the freight train coming. Of course he’s alarmed. Of course he cries “racist.”
Tom Wolf can call me whatever he wants — until we defeat him in November of 2018.
Pennsylvania Racist Supporting Democrat Governor — Once upon a time there was a vicious race riot in York, Pa. A young city police officer took the side of the white supremacists shouting epitaphs and acting in such a vile way he was even charged with murder for the death of a black woman.
He was acquitted but little doubt was left regarding his feelings towards minorities.
That man was Charles “Charlie” H. Robertson who would become the city’s mayor. His campaign manager was — wait for it — Tom “Big Bad Phony” Wolf.
Wolf, of course, is now our governor.
Wonder if Antifa would back building a statue of him.
“. . .fascisti si dividono in due categorie: i fascisti e gli antifascisti”–Ennio Flaiano
As surely as night turns to day, politicians make decisions to improve their chances of re-election. For Governor Wolf, that means a proposal to close two state prisons. Just like his move to close Unemployment Compensation call centers was politically charged, Wolf’s decision to close prisons is also politically motivated, and it isn’t just Republicans who are making that complaint:
“On Monday, another budget fight took shape during a Senate hearing in which Democratic and Republican lawmakers accused Wolf of playing politics with the safety and economic security of their communities…
“‘Why does this decision have to be made so fast?'” asked Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, whose district includes a prison in Pittsburgh.
“The facilities have to be empty by July 1 to to [sic] meet the full budget savings in the 2017-18 fiscal year, [Corrections Secretary] Wetzel replied.
“‘That’s the political reason,’ retorted Fontana, who said he did not believe the savings estimates if the prison employees are offered jobs elsewhere.”
Governor Wolf is trying to erase from voter’s minds his last two years of tax and spend budgets by proposing modest spending cuts. His targets thus far have been smart from a political perspective: two prisons, two mental hospitals, and reduced spending on economic development are targets that were sure to garner objections from Republican lawmakers. With a $2 billion deficit, Wolf is proposing small cuts that his opponents will object to; giving him the opportunity later to say “I tried to make spending cuts, but the General Assembly wouldn’t let me. I guess we’ll have to raise taxes.”
If we ignore the Governor’s political motivation in closing the prisons specifically, does it make sense from a policy perspective?
Although the union representing Corrections Officers would disagree, closing the prisons is the right choice from a fiscal standpoint. According to the Commonwealth Foundation, the Pennsylvania state prison system will be 92 percent full if two prisons are closed; that allows enough room for an uptick in the inmate population.
Now that the floodgates are opening for cost cutting, we hope that the next item on the chopping block is the $250 million from the “Race Horse Development Fund.”
Tom Wolf Backed Racist York Dem — The Washington Post is continuing its politics of hate and division against President-elect Donald Trump despite owner Jeff Bezos’ desperate offer of the peace pipe.
Yesterday, Nov. 11, the rag carried a story about and ran on its website a video of a teenager shouting “white power” in York, Pa. The kid was in proximity to a Trump sign.
The story mentioned the 1969 York Race Riot and brought up how York Mayor Charles “Charlie” H. Robertson was charged in 2001, while in office, with the murder of a black women due to actions he committed as a young police officer during the riot. Robertson was acquitted albeit there didn’t seem to be a defense that he was a noble defender of law and justice for all, and in fact, admitted to shouting a racial slur.
Which gets us back to the WaPo propaganda piece. The Post doesn’t mention Robertson’s party which is Democrat. Far more damning, the Post failed to note that his campaign manager and political supporter was Gov. Tom Wolf.
It is not the Trump people who back racists. Wolf, if you don’t know, is a very “progressive” Democrat.
In my past articles, I have reported repeatedly many of the findings in Harrisburg where I see first-hand waste, fraud and abuse.
Here is another great example of how mismanaged Harrisburg really is. Last Thursday (Sept. 29) the Auditor General held a press conference and reported the findings of an audit that was performed at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).
It was reported at the press conference that from July 2013 to June 2014 DHS paid public assistance benefits (CASH) to over 2,300 deceased (DEAD) people.
I continue to pound on the table that “Harrisburg does not have a revenue problem – Harrisburg has a spending problem.”
Well here is another slogan – “Harrisburg is out of control – zero accountability – who cares, it is not our money.”
I have reported previously that there is a total lack of accountability in the various state agencies. DHS is the best example of an agency out of control.
You may ask yourself how an agency could be out of control. Here is the best and most accurate answer: Lack of leadership, direction and accountability.
Where should leadership, direction, and accountability start in Harrisburg you might ask – here is the simple answer – the Governor’s office.
Gov. Wolf has been in office for almost two years and I have not seen any large initiatives in any single state agency to determine how well a specific agency is performing or not performing.
In the last several months I have met with two separate companies and their representatives who have presented to me a scenario where, due to fraud and abuse, there are between $1.8 billion to $4 billion of fraudulent claims being paid by Medicaid through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services annually – the $1.8 billion and $4 billion are numbers that the federal government has provided based on total Medicaid dollars spent in Pennsylvania. Medicaid is the subsidized health care program for low income people that is managed by DHS. What is being done about this fraud and abuse?
Since the beginning of this year I have received continued complaints from private sector companies and the natural gas industry that the Department of Environmental Resources (DEP) is delaying earth disturbance permits for pipeline projects.
Why are these permits being delayed? Here is the answer: No leadership, direction and accountability.
Just a few weeks ago I received a complaint from a constituent that a specific agency was not returning telephone calls to discuss the constituent’s issue. I directed a person in my Senate office to work on a resolution and guess what? Our telephone calls went unanswered.
How could our telephone calls go unanswered? No Leadership, direction and accountability.
I could go on for hours of how mismanaged Harrisburg really is. No leadership, No accountability, career bureaucrats and an attitude that instead of doing any heavy lifting and managing the money that already flows into Harrisburg. The first quick solution is to just raise taxes.
Governors come and go. House and Senate members come and go. Career bureaucrats stay below the radar screen to keep their jobs, generous benefits, and their coveted pensions when they retire.
At the end of September I completed my 30th month (two and a half years) in the Pennsylvania State Senate. All I can say is – WOW. I knew that state government was out of control in Harrisburg before I arrived and guess what? It is 10 times worse than I expected.
I anticipate that in January of 2017 the Pennsylvania Legislature will be presented with a budget from Governor Wolf that will ask for substantial tax increases.
The current mentality from Governor Wolf is that Pennsylvania taxpayers can afford to pay more taxes.
If you are willing to pay more taxes instead of Governor Wolf providing leadership, direction and holding every person who works in state government accountable, please send me an email so we can put your name on a list so Harrisburg can send you a tax bill.
Out of control government in Harrisburg – the gift that just keeps on taking !
Included in the 2014-2015 budget was $200 million in additional funding for schools. The budget also included language that required “enabling” legislation to spell out how the new funds would be distributed. That enabling legislation was the “Fiscal Code”, which the governor vetoed. In other words, Governor Wolf is breaking the law in spending the money.
Adding insult to injury, the Governor is spending the money according to a formula he essentially made up on his own without input from the legislature. The Fiscal Code included changes recommended by a bipartisan education funding reform commission. Governor Wolf ignored those recommendations in determining how he was going to distribute the funds illegally.
The Harrisburg Patriot-News highlighted some of the discrepancies between the Governor’s distribution and the distribution spelled out in the vetoed Fiscal Code:
“Philadelphia’s share of the $200 million in new education funding is $76.8 million – a full 38 percent – under the restoration formula, wheras [sic] under the bi-partisan-backed formula, it would have received $42.4 million.
“Pittsburgh receives $7.5 million under the governor’s formula; $3.1 million under the one lawmakers would prefer be used. Chester-Upland receives $16.3 million under the restoration formula compared to $2 million under the other distribution system. ”
The changes in those three school districts’ funding levels under Wolf’s illegal plan, consume over $53 million in funding designated for other schools. The Governor’s decision to redirect a quarter of the new money to three schools districts, without legislative authorization, is one more example of Wolf’s “my way or the highway” approach to governing.
It is worth noting that according to the news article mentioned about, the legislature is looking into taking legal actions against the Governor to stop his latest executive overreach.
Wolf Furniture Co. of Blair County, which operates nine stores in central Pennsylvania, has taken out television commercials in which proprietor Doug Wolf says “I’d like to clear the air. We’re not related to anyone in public office.”
It’s sure sign of Gov. Tom Wolf’s unpopularity when a connection to him is considered bad for business.
The Governor achieved his 1-percenter status from the York County kitchen cabinetry company he inherited, and that appears to be the source of the confusion.
Repeat: There is no connection with the Blair County furniture chain.
Governor Wolf Handshake Dishonorable by Sen. Scott Wagner
Governor Tom Wolf delivered his 2016-2017 budget address for Pennsylvania, Feb. 9.
The Governor’s budget address was delivered on the back of an unfinished 2015-2016 budget.
Governor Wolf did not mince words when he placed all of the blame for the 2015-2016 budget mess on House Republicans.
I must confess that I was taken back by the Governor’s comments and arrogance – during his budget address he made this statement to PA House Members – “If you won’t take seriously your responsibility to the people of Pennsylvania – then find another job.”
The Governor directed blame towards the House Republican Leaders for the budget impasse.
Governor Wolf stated, “We had a deal. And then the House Republican leaders walked away.”
How ironic – I had a similar personal experience with Governor Wolf.
On Dec. 20, I attended a holiday Open House at a home in Southeastern PA – Governor Wolf showed up at the Open House – after a brief period I was approached by a Democratic Senator to ask if I would have a discussion with the Governor – a discussion took place with another Republican Senator, the Democratic Senator, the Governor and me.
I was asked if I would help the Governor and consider talking to Republican House Members that I have relationships with about the budget and help bridge the gap.
I agreed to meet with the Governor and the other two Senators on Tuesday – Dec. 22 – I asked the Governor to clear three hours of time so we could have the discussion and come up with various resolutions – the Governor looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said “we have a deal.”
When we arrived on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. for our meeting at the Governor’s office, I immediately sensed that something had changed – the Governor commented that he had another meeting in 35 minutes – so much for the three hour hand shake deal.
The Governor was quick to let me know that he knew that I was focused on reining in out of control spending – he stated, “I have to get this budget done and then next year in January we can meet to discuss spending controls” – January has come and gone – no call from the Governor – in the private sector business world when someone shakes my hand and says we have a deal, I take that gesture as a gesture of honor – Governor Wolf broke that gesture of honor.
My prediction is that Governor Wolf is going to play the same hostage game as he did last year with schools and non-profit agencies.
Yesterday afternoon (Feb. 11) a mass email was sent by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to readers kicking sand into the faces of Republican House and Senate Leaders, two other House members, and myself for saying no to Governor Wolf’s tax increases.
I can only speculate that as a child Governor Wolf was picked on at his elite boarding school – little rich bullies run up and kick sand in the other kids faces and run away – Governor Wolf is attempting that same technique with the legislature and then running to his public sector union friends to defend him, and then asking them to give him millions of dollars collected from their members paychecks to fund negative TV ads and mailers in Republican House and Senate Districts slamming those members, and now yesterday’s email blast directed towards leaders and members of the legislature because they didn’t vote for his tax package.
Governor Wolf has quickly driven a wedge into any relationships that might have been possible with House and Senate Republicans – to be clear – Governor Wolf has gone toxic – and he has burned many bridges and may have lost any opportunity to have a positive outcome with his remaining time in office.
It is also worth pointing out that most Democratic House and Senate Members do not want to vote for any tax increases either – these same Democrats are being thrown under the bus by their own Democratic Governor – many Democrats will secretly agree with my assessment but their leadership is keeping them in line with intimidation tactics.
I have a different perspective of the budget and the Pennsylvania economy – very different from the perspective of Governor Wolf.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I along with other Senate colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, will begin to participate in budget hearings over the next six weeks with all state agencies.
I have an advantage coming from the private sector – I continue to operate several business so I get to see first-hand the current business climate.
I continue to see massive amounts of waste and out of control spending in Harrisburg – if you have been regularly receiving my emails you will know I have not changed my opinion on this.
Many businesses in Pennsylvania are laying off employees because of weak business conditions.
The oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania, and the rest of the country, has been clobbered because of historic low oil and gas prices – the ripple effect to suppliers and service providers of the oil and gas industry have also been affected.