State Sen. Dominic F. Pileggi is now actively opposing pension reform, we have been told.
The former Majority Leader who represented the 9th District since 2002 had long given lip service to the need but as he is now on the outs and looking for a Common Pleas Court judgeship, the mask has been removed.
Was it sour grapes at those who removed him from power? Or was it a a ploy for the registered Republican to win on the Democrat primary ballot for his judicial race hence obviating a campaign for November? Judicial candidates are allowed to cross file in Pennsylvania.
If the latter, it appears to be effective. He has gotten a rousing endorsement from the PSEA, the teachers union that is biggest obstacle for real reform. The union is asking Democrats to vote for him.
But does it matter? To fail to see the need for drastic changes to our public pension system is political malpractice at the highest level. It is the very definition of injustice to ask a working class homeowner to ante up another thousand or two so someone can keep a $477,591 public pension.
How can anyone be so callous as to be unwilling to fight this corruption?
State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-28) compared Pennsylvania to the Titanic with disaster just ahead at tonight’s (April 6) meeting of the Delaware County Patriots.
About 100 persons attended the event which was held at the Knights of Columbus hall in Newtown Square.
“The ship is going down and we got to do something about it,” Wagner said.
He was referring to Pennsylvania’s fiscal crisis driven by out-of-control state pensions and spiraling property taxes.
He blamed the cause on corruption giving special scorn to those on his side of the aisle. Wagner, who started three successful businesses in York County that now employ 600 persons, described how GOP leaders would hit him up for money at campaign time and that he would write ever bigger checks. Yet, he noted, the simple things that should have made life easier for himself and his employees never seemed to happen.
“They weren’t taking care of you,” he says. “They were taking care of themselves.”
This inspired him to seek office and in a special election on March 18, 2014, he ran a write-in campaign to fill the remainder of the term left vacant by late State Senator Mike Waugh. It was the first time a write-in candidate won a state senate seat. Wagner got 10,595 votes (47.7 percent), while the endorsed Republican nominee received 5,920 votes and Democratic nominee got 5,704.
He won an election to a full-term in November.
Wagner notes that in the private sector pensions rarely reach 40 percent of the working pay. He said in the public sector in this state it is approaching 80 percent. He notes that average pay for a teacher in his school district is $88,000 for 180 days of work and they can look forward to getting $75,000 per year for the rest of their life upon retirement. This would be at age 60 after 30 years, or earlier after 35 years.
He said that it angers him to see soldiers coming home from overseas in wheelchairs missing limbs knowing they could look forward to $800 per month in benefits when retired teachers would be getting over $6,000.
He said if things don’t change benefits and wages would soon be dollar for dollar.
“If Pennsylvania could file for bankruptcy, I’d be the first to prepare a bill,” he said.
Wagner proposed specific solutions. He said abolishing the prevailing wage mandate that requires wages for public works projects be set by the union-dominated Department of Labor and Industry rather than the market would save school districts between $200 million and $300 million annually.
He said he will not vote for a state budget unless the state gets rid of prevailing wage.
Wagner is also pushing to turn the state pension programs into 401K defined contribution types rather than the existing defined benefit packages.
He said he is also working on ways in which force give-backs in the existing benefits package.
A related issue that he is also trying to address is the cause of the corruption that led to this crisis.
He noted that he has been targeted by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO leader Rick Bloomingdale for his push for paycheck protection for union members. He said that about $750 annually is automatically deduction from each union member’s paycheck with the members having little say for which causes the money should be used.
The state’s AFL-CIO has about 800,000 members, so that’s about $600 million that winds up supporting not-so-pro labor causes like opening borders and stopping pipelines.
Wagner pointed out that Bloomingdale’s salary is over $300,000.
Wagner mentioned that he had a recent lunch with presidential hopeful Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who was notably successful in stopping union corruption in his state. Wagner said the big difference between Wisconsin and Pennsylvania is that unlike in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin Republicans did not get any union money.
“Eighty percent of Republicans take money from unions,” Wagner said.
Wagner said he is far from making an endorsement but that he likes Walker
Wagner said that he is pushing for the sale of the state’s liquor stores.
“State liquor stores aren’t making the kind of money people think they are,” he said.
In a bit of irony, Wagner is now running the Senate Republican Campaign Committee which so bitterly fought him a year ago. He said that he has his eye on several Democrat seats in the western part of the state and expect to flip four or five to the GOP in 2016. The Republicans now hold a 30-20 lead in the body but Wagner notes that four or five from the Philadelphia suburbs often end up supporting the Democrats.
It was rather daring that Wagner would make his speech on his adversaries’ turf.
Wagner did have some nice things to say about Dominic Pileggi (R-9) who he was instrumental in removing as Senate Majority Leader earlier this year.
“I think he’s a brilliant guy,” he said.
He said Pileggi’s weak spot was that his training as a lawyer kept him from seeing the steps needed to save the state.
Pileggi is running for election as a Common Pleas Court judge this fall and would leave his senate seat if he should win as expected. Wagner said he expects a more conservative senator to replace Pileggi.
Wagner got some grief in the question period regarding his support for SB 76, a bill that was tabled last fall and would have replaced the property tax with either an income or sales tax to fund schools. Many members in the audience said they feared it would mean the end of local control of schools. Wagner said the bill was not perfect, is not likely to pass as is, and needs further work.
He said property tax relief is desperately needed, however, and SB 76 gets things moving.
Wagner said he does not expect a state budget to be passed until October. He said any claims that the government is going to shut down are “bullshit” a word he repeated several times. He noted that the state is still going to be collecting taxes whether the budget is passed or not.
Also at the meeting was Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Panepinto who was seeking support for his independent run as a state Supreme Court judge. Judge Panepinto needs 17,000 signatures by July to get on the ballot. He recently made headlines for fining lawyer Nancy Raynor $1 million for her behavior during a medical malpractice case.
Wagner gave him a ringing endorsement calling him the “real deal”.
And it was a blast as he called out the five southeast Republican Senators voted no to the amendment — Sens. John Rafferty of Montgomery County, Stewart Greenleaf of Montgomery County, Tom McGarrigle of Delaware County, Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson of Bucks County, and Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County– being especially harsh concerning Pileggi and Rafferty.
The purpose of this post is to give you an update on “Paycheck Protection” legislation.
At the end of my post is a story from Penn Live yesterday detailing the vote on this important reform in the PA State Senate.
An amendment was offered yesterday on the floor by Senator John Eichelberger to SB 501.
The amendment offered yesterday would have narrowed the restriction to only ban governments from deducting money that is used for political purposes while still allowing dues collection to support general union operations.
The PA State Senate had a tie vote of 24 to 24 which resulted in the amendment to SB 501 failing to pass.
It was disappointing but not a surprise that five southeast Republican Senators voted no to the amendment.
It was also not a surprise to me that Senator John Rafferty voted no on the amendment – in the ten months I have served in the PA State Senate I have found Senator Rafferty to be the most disingenuous member of the Republican Caucus.
To be honest and direct, I have watched Senator Rafferty repeatedly undermine our new leadership – Senator Rafferty is self-serving and badly wants to be Pennsylvania’s Attorney General.
Senator Dominic Pilleggi is another issue – since losing his leadership post he is a bitter person and will do anything to undermine the PA State Senate’s new leadership – the good news is that Senator Pilleggi is running as a judicial candidate for Common Pleas Court in Delaware County – the sooner that Senator Pileggi is gone from the PA State Senate the better for everyone.
I can assure you that our PA State Senate leadership and conservative members will continue to push to pass this important reform.
To achieve our many goals to move Pennsylvania forward it is critical that we elect additional conservative Republican members to the PA State Senate.
It is my personal goal to add a minimum of four additional conservative Republicans to the PA State Senate in 2016 so that we can advance the right agenda for Pennsylvania.
Bill restricting union dues collection fails but not dead yet in Pa. Senate
By Jan Murphy | firstname.lastname@example.org The Patriot-News
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on March 02, 2015 at 7:05 PM, updated March 03, 2015 at 11:58 AM
An attempt to pass a controversial amendment to a bill that would restrict union dues collection from state and school employees’ paychecks narrowly failed in the state Senate on Monday.
But most likely, we haven’t seen the last of this amendment to this so-called paycheck protection bill.
The Senate voted 24-24 to defeat the amendment. A short time later, it voted 29-19 to reconsider the amendment at a later time, keeping it alive.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair County, would have made it illegal for government to deduct union dues from state and school employees’ paychecks. The amendment offered on Monday narrowed that restriction to only ban governments from deducting money for unions that is used for political purposes while still allowing dues collection to support for general union operations.
“I think that legislation is not the answer.” Lt. Gov. Mike Stack
The amendment was crucial to winning the support of Republican Sen. Chuck McIlhinney of Bucks County, who indicated last week he would be a no vote without that change.
Every Republican vote the amendment could muster was needed to pass since Democrats voted as a block to oppose the bill along with five Republican senators from the southeastern corner of the state – Sens. John Rafferty of Montgomery County, Stewart Greenleaf of Montgomery County, Tom McGarrigle of Delaware County, Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson of Bucks County, and Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County.
When the vote on the amendment ended in a 24-24 tie, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack cast a vote against the proposal although Senate staff said later that the tie vote had already ensured its defeat.
Afterward, Stack seemed pleased he had the chance to cast a vote against this particular amendment, even though it turns out it wasn’t necessary.
“I just think it’s anti-labor and it’s designed to take away the ability of unions to organize and I’m one of those people who believe we have a middle class here in Pennsylvania because of the worker unions,” he said. “They are not perfect and no organization is perfect but I think that legislation is not the answer.”
*This story was updated to reflect the fact that the tie vote on the amendment resulted in its defeat and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack’s vote didn’t break the tie.
Replacing him is Scott Hutchinson of the 21st District, who had chaired the Senate Communications and Technology Committee. Replacing Hutchinson as chairman of the Communications and Technology Committee is Ryan Aument of 36th District who had chaired the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, which now will be chaired by newcomer Tom McGarrigle of the 26th District, who is so new Wikipedia has not even figured out what year he was born.
Browne and Mensch are among those who have allied themselves with Scott Wagner of the 28th District who is seeking to unseat Dominic Pileggi of the 9th District (Delaware and Chester counties) as Majority Leader of the Republican-controlled Senate.
Wagner, a newcomer, is leading a rebellion against Pileggi.
Pileggi receives much money from the unions in the state, and Wagner blames him for not getting commonsense pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer legislation passed despite the Republicans having complete control over the state government since January 2011.
Perhaps, Pileggi isn’t entirely to blame.
The Lehigh organization notes that Browne and Mensch voted against an amendment proposed by Senator Wagner in support of “paycheck protection” legislation that would prohibit automatic deduction of union dues from state workers.
Browne is seeking to chair the Appropriations Committee while Mensch is attempting to become Caucus Chairman, reports PoliticsPa.com.
Jake Corman, who is tapped by the rebels to replace Pileggi, also gets his share of union money. Granted, it’s not as much as Pileggi but will that sill be the case if he should win the Majority Leader seat?
The new boss may end up being the same as the old boss or worse. However this battle ends those who care about the poor, elderly and unemployed — this means one is against the unions — keep it about issues and not people.
Update: A comment on the story at PolitcsPa by someone identifying himself as Lehigh County Republican Party Chairmen William Heydt says it is not the party but a faction and that there is “there is no assurance there will be a meeting because until the night of the meeting there is no assurance of a quorum.”
“Neither the party itself or the leadership has suggested a censure,” he said.
“We are supportive of the Senators overall and of their leadership bids as good for our region,” he said.
Pileggi has been under fire from conservative groups and has come under fire from newcomer Sen. Scott Wagner of the 28th District for the inability to get commonsense consumer and taxpayer oriented reforms in the state that would gore the oxen of the state’s powerful and wealthy unions but would make life a lot easier for everybody else.
We have been asked to compile a list of Pileggi’s major contributors.
After going through Pileggi’s 34 pages of contributions for 2014 on the state’s campaign finance website, we have found these groups that have donated at least five figures to Friends of Dominic Pileggi. (Regarding Steam Fitters Local 449, we figure a steamfitter is a steamfitter.)
University City Housing Company
Vahan H. Gureghian
CARPENTERS LEG. PROGRAM OF GREATER PA PAC
CARPENTERS PAC OF PHILADELPHIA & VICINITY
LOCAL 66 PAC CLUB
Local Union #98 I.B.E.W, Committee on Political Education
PA FUTURE FUND (business)
PENNSYLVANIA HORSEBREEDER’S ASSOCIATION INC PAC
Committee for a Better Tomorrow (Philly Trial Lawyers)
3 28 2014
AFSCME Council 13 PAC
2 26 2014
Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 19
3 28 2014
LAWPAC (Statewide Trial Lawyers)
800 North Third Street 2nd Floor
10 9 2014
APSCUF/CAP-PA (State University Faculty)
3 24 2014
Steamfitters Local 449 PAC
1 6 2014
Can we wish a pox on both houses?
Truthfully, we suspect that both men are smart enough to read the very large writing put on the wall by the voters in the once union-dominated states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and remember the fate of soon-to-be former Gov. Tom Corbett. They are also smart enough to know they are being watched and being held accountable.
To our Tea Party friends who see bright red whenever they look at Pileggi’s name, stop making it personal. If Pileggi should win, focus on issues. To use a local example, a new $150 million high school is being proposed for Springfield. Repealing the prevailing wage law will cut the cost greatly with some estimating it could be by as much as $30 million. The unions that contribute to both men but especially Pileggi don’t want the law to change. We suspect it would be far more effective to focus on the issue of saving elderly and unemployed people a lot of money while getting a school built rather than about how Pileggi is a bad, bad, bad person.
And that is the Pileggi vs Corman – Tale Of The Tape.
Anti-establishment Republican Scott Wagner has picked up a supporter in his rebellion against Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi of the 9th District which includes large parts of Delaware and Chester counties.
Don White of the 41st District has also declared that Pileggi should step down from the post.
“There have been countless times since I have taken office, where at least two-thirds of our Republican Caucus members wanted legislation to go to the floor for an up or down vote,” Wagner said. “Senator Pileggi has continually refused to do so.”
Wagner has concluded that it is because Pileggi is tied to closely to labor.
“After reviewing Senator Pileggi’s Political Action Committee campaign finance reports, I have concluded that Senator Pileggi is heavily influenced by public sector unions and private trade unions,” Wagner said. “In fact, on May 28, 2014 the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article referencing the Electricians’ Union “Local 98’s $100,000 Club” which lists Senator Pileggi as having received $175,000. Senator Pileggi is 9th on the list behind President Obama and seven other Democrats. Local 98 is just one of many unions that Senator Pileggi has taken a significant amount of money from.”
Wagner said that “after spending considerable time considering how best to address” the issue he sent a letter to Pileggi on Sept. 29 “informing him of my conclusion that it is not in the best interest of Pennsylvanians for him to continue as Senate Majority Leader.”
White, yesterday, Oct. 10, sent his own letter to Pileggi in which he says “You have succeeded in fracturing our caucus and bastardizing the committee process to promote an unknown agenda that is debilitating to our caucus and, more importantly, our Commonwealth.
“To be clear, I will not support your re-election as Majority Leader should you choose to run.”
White accused Pileggi of being the deciding vote in the Appropriations Committee in favor of an an amendment drafted by “extremely liberal environmental group Penn Future to House Bill 2354, and failing to advance House Bill 1243 which passed the House overwhelmingly with bipartisan support to prevent harassment of gun owners by local governments unwilling to respect state law.
White also noted that Pileggi squelched SB7 that would limit the rate of spending growth in Pennsylvania to the rate of inflation and did the same to paycheck protection in June.
White was specifically angry about Pileggi’s actions regarding health insurance.
“On an issue important to me personally, and as a favor to Big Pharmacy, you engineered an end run around the committee process in an attempt to enact a health insurance mandate that is terribly written and simply unworkable, without a proper vetting or debate of the issue,” he said.
Freezing the tax for senior citizens would shift the inevitable pay-up to newlyweds, and people with kids in college and the unemployed of which there are 344,989.
And of course, the small business owner whether he owns his shop or rents.
The question we ask is why the fear to address the root causes, which are rather obvious.
You do not need a constitutional amendment to repeal Act 195 of 1970 which granted public school teachers the right to strike giving the sociopathic types that gravitate to union leadership the legal right to threaten children for more money and power.
Nor is a constitutional amendment needed to end the prevailing wage mandate that adds 20 percent to the cost of public projects.
State Rep. Steve Barrar (R-166), by the way, has informed us that his vote against HB 1353 was because it did not go far enough. He is pushing for a full 401 (k) type plan and not a hybrid one that would still allow some direct benefits.
He has a point. Why should public employees get direct benefits that most of us don’t other than Social Security for which none would begrudge the state workers from joining us in?
Should we really have to lose our homes or see our rents jacked up to pay for these goodies?