Paycheck Protection Simple Justice

Paycheck Protection Simple Justice

By Rep. Bryan Cutler
During my time serving the 100th District, a handful of well-meaning residents have walked into my taxpayer-funded Lancaster County district office and requested campaign lawn signs. They have always walked out empty handed. In fact, if I tried to conduct campaign activities from my legislative office, I’d end up in jail—as other politicians have. And that’s how it should be.

Likewise, just think if I requested that the House payroll system be used to deduct voluntary campaign contributions for my re-election campaign from my staff’s paychecks. You can imagine the response: Absolutely not.

The objection would not be over the staff’s desire to contribute, or the cost of deducting the money. Instead, the request would be denied as a matter of ethics: Public resources cannot be used for politics.

That’s because taxpayer-funded government resources should not be used for politics. Unfortunately, there’s a big loophole in state law.

State and local governments across Pennsylvania regularly use public resources to collect campaign funds for a special group of political players: Government union leaders. These funds are used for lobbying and political fundraising and even given directly to candidates. And government unions are the only organizations in Pennsylvania that can use public resources to raise their political dollars.

This is an insult to Pennsylvanians who deserve better from their government.

That’s why for the past few sessions I have introduced and championed legislation called paycheck protection, which would restore the integrity of public resources by ending the use of government systems for political fundraising.

As commonsense as this reform is, some still oppose it, relying on myths and scare tactics to misrepresent what this legislation does—and does not—do.

I believe Pennsylvanians deserve the truth.

The truth is Pennsylvania government union leaders use taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect money from public employees for three purposes:

  1. Union dues and fees used for representational activities
  2. Union dues used for political activity such as lobbying and radio/TV ads
  3. Political action committee contributions given directly to candidates

The latter two are explicitly political.

The truth is, since 2007, Pennsylvania’s government unions have spent nearly $100 million on politics—most of which they collected via automatic deduction from workers’ paychecks using public resources.

The truth is this immoral practice, which would land any elected official in jail, has gone unchecked for years.

If we care about ethics and integrity in government, we cannot let this continue.

My bill would transition the collection of political money back where it belongs—outside the scope of public resources and into the hands of government union leaders.

These unions would still be free to use public resources to collect non-political union dues and fees used for collective bargaining and representational work. However, government unions would no longer enjoy the special privilege of using public resources to collect money used for political activity. Just like every other private organization in Pennsylvania, they would begin collecting political money directly from those who donate it, without using taxpayers as their middleman.

Opponents of this reform claim they are fighting to protect workers’ voices, but the truth is this reform will give public workers greater voice in how their money is spent on politics. Because government unions will collect their political dollars directly from members, they will be more accountable to members regarding how those dollars are spent.

Opponents also argue they are working to preserve government unions’ ability to collectively bargain, but this reform does not affect collective bargaining rights or prevent unions from engaging in political activity. It simply separates taxpayer resources and electoral politics.

The state Senate passed similar legislation in February.

It’s time my colleagues in the House also make this good government reform a priority.

The law should apply equally to everyone. Paycheck protection would be a major step toward making this principle a reality.

Rep. Cutler (R-100) is the Pennsylvania House Majority Whip.

Paycheck Protection Simple Justice

Paycheck Protection Simple Justice

SEIU Gets $134.9 Million State Pact

SEIU Gets $134.9 Million State Pact

By Leo Knepper

Suppose that a business owner gave a politician nearly $1 million in campaign contributions and then received a $134.9 million contract. What kind of reaction would expect from the media? Most people would expect wall to wall news coverage and calls for an investigation. If the dollar amounts stayed the same, but instead of a business, the contract went to a public sector/government union why should the public be any less outraged?

Late last week, Service Employees International Union Local 668 (SEIU) signed off on a lucrative three-year contract that they negotiated with Governor Tom Wolf last year. Over three years, the contract will cost taxpayers $134.9 million. When you consider additional pension payments and resulting liabilities from the deal, the price goes up even further over the long term.

The SEIU’s PAC was the largest union contributor to the Governor’s 2014 election campaign. Direct spending and contributions by the PAC totaled nearly $1 million. If you add in the “volunteer” work and get out the vote efforts by the union, the value of the SEIU’s contributions are even greater. SEIU members will see a $5,000 salary increase per year under the new contract. Because the union dues are a based on a percentage of the member’s salary, the SEIU will financially benefit from the new deal as well. If this contract comes as news to you, you’re probably not alone. Despite the union’s generosity in terms of time and financial contributions to Governor Wolf, the labor agreement generated very little press.

In fact, the SEIU contract is only the latest in a long line of campaign contributors who have negotiated with the Governor. Every major government union in Pennsylvania supported the Governor, and will likely support his reelection. Under the current system, unions are on both sides of the negotiating table. Franklin D. Roosevelt opposed government employee unions for this very reason.

The media rightly scrutinizes government contracts with most private vendors who are political donors. Why don’t they pay the same attention to government unions who happened to be the biggest political spenders in the state?

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

SEIU Gets $134.9 Million State Pact
Who cares about the taxpayer? Ha ha, not me.
SEIU Gets $134.9 Million State Pact

 

Wolf SEIU Deal Gives $5G Annual Raises

Wolf SEIU Deal Gives $5G Annual Raises

Wolf SEIU Deal Gives $5G Annual RaisesBy Sen. Scott Wagner

When I joined the PA State Senate in 2014, I went to Harrisburg with specific and focused goals.

Among them, to end the reckless spending and the culture of self-serving politicians in Harrisburg.

Last week, Governor Wolf provided a perfect demonstration of both.

This past Friday, Penn Live reported the details of a new three-year labor contract between the State of Pennsylvania and SEIU Local 668.

Under this contract, public sector workers who are currently making $40,502 per year, will enjoy an increase of $5,000 per year over the three-year term of the contract – for a total additional cost to the taxpayers of $45 million per year.

Maybe the increased wage levels are reasonable and maybe they are not, but what’s definitely not reasonable is that Governor Wolf negotiated this contract alone.

Governor Wolf excluded members of the House and Senate from those negotiations, and the reason could not be more obvious: Governor Wolf’s taxpayer-provided “gift” to public sector union workers will serve him well as he seeks reelection – whether the PA taxpayer can afford it or not.

But that’s not the worst part.

Based on my calculations, the contract negotiated results in approximately $1.8 billion of additional retirement pension pay outs over 20 years.

It’s a gigantic, extremely irresponsible promise for the Governor to make with your money.

It must have slipped his mind that Harrisburg has already promised more in the way of pension payouts than we can afford to make good on.

It’s called “the pension crisis” – and Governor Wolf is deliberately ignoring it.

When I was growing up, I often heard people say that money doesn’t grow on trees.

I have to wonder what kind of trees Governor Wolf thinks grow in the back yards of Pennsylvania taxpayers.

I’ll keep saying it – Harrisburg does not have a revenue problem, Harrisburg has a spending problem.

Trust me when I tell you, when I’m Governor, we’ll end this recklessness, and replace it with justified, responsible management of tax money.

November of 2018 cannot come soon enough.

P.S.
You might be surprised to know that workers covered under this taxpayer-funded contract only work 37.5 hours per week, but are expected to receive an increase of $5,000 annually.

If you would like to read the full Penn Live article, please click here:
http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/04/seiu_local_668_finalizes_three.html 
Sen. Wagner represents the 28th District in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Wolf SEIU Deal Gives $5G Annual Raises

SB 167 Paycheck Protection

SB 167 Paycheck Protection — Leo Knepper of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania has let us know that bills providing for paycheck protection moved out of  the Senate State Government Committee, Jan. 31, on a party line vote.

Senate Bill 166 prohibits the use of dues collected from members of  public unions to be used for political causes. It specifically exempts “negotiation, resolution, arbitration, administration or enforcement” of collective bargaining agreements.

Senate Bill 167 prohibits the use of dues to be used for politics and voids all provisions in collective bargaining agreements allowing it.

“Currently, government unions can deduct contributions for their political action committees (PACs) and dues money that will be used for political purposes directly from government employees’ paychecks,” says Knepper. “In other words, the unions are using taxpayer funded systems to collect money for politics.

“Why should it be legal for unions to use the public payroll system for political purposes, but illegal for former-Speaker John Perzel to use the constituent data system to help sway elections?” he said.

Our question: Why should the state even collect union dues? If the money has to be deducted automatically, it’s a pretty good indication that the union member is not thrilled with the leadership?

Why should union dues that more often than not  merely enrich union bosses be a requirement for membership in the first place? SB 167

SB 167 Paycheck Protection

Top 10 Union PAC Recipients

Top 10 Union PAC Recipients — Elizabeth Stelle of Commonwealth Foundation has distributed a list of the top 10 recipients of government union political action committees.

U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty, Gov. Tom Wolf’s former chief of staff, is the top recipient, getting, $4.4 million. State attorney general candidate Josh Shapiro ranks second at $216,523. Top 10 Union PAC Recipients

This political money is collected and sent to the government unions using publicly funded payroll systems. No other organization gets this special perk.

Here is the top 10 recipients.

Katie McGinty $4,443,586*
Josh Shapiro $216,523
Rob Teplitz $187,500
Mike Hanna $164,350
Frank Dermody $163,500
Joe Markosek $119,000
Vincent Hughes $118,500
Eugene DePasquale $113,300
Linda Weaver $108,500
Leanne Krueger-Braneky $102,915

* Includes expenditures in support of McGinty or in opposition to Toomey

Source: Pennsylvania Department of State, “Campaign Finance Online Reporting,”; Federal Election Commission, “Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal.”

Remember when you vote today that this money is not free. The recipients have to pay it back somehow.

Nearly 70 percent of state voters support requiring government unions to collect their own political money. It’s time for the state Legislature to prioritize paycheck protection legislation and stop government from collecting political contributions.

Top 10 Union PAC Recipients

IBEW Local 98 Backs Hillary

IBEW Local 98 Backs Hillary

By Leo Knepper

IBEW Local 98 Backs Hillary
The IBEW Local 98 choice.

You are probably not alone if you’ve never heard of IBEW Local 98, or John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, Jr. However, they are names that are familiar to people who follow state politics closely, or the politics of Philadelphia. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2014, IBEW Local 98 is Pennsylvania’s largest independent source of campaign cash.

According to the 2014 article, the Local 98 spent over $25 million on political races from 2000 through May, 2014. Since then, they have spent at least another $2 million. Recipients of Johnny Doc’s largess include Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, John’s brother. The IBEW’s contributions to Justice Dougherty were over $1.5 million. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Gov. Tom Wolf, Gov. Tom Corbett, Republican Attorney General Candidate John Rafferty, and a host of other candidates have also received contributions from the union.

According to the Inquirer:

“Federal authorities executed search warrants at more than half a dozen locations, including Dougherty’s house in South Philadelphia, his sister’s home next door, the Local 98 hall at 17th and Spring Garden Streets, and the Mount Laurel home of union president Brian Burrows.

“At midday at union headquarters, agents removed at least a hundred boxes of paperwork, along with several computer hard drives, loading them into a yellow Penske truck. The scene was repeated shortly after 3 p.m., as boxes, computer hard drives, and a laptop were carried from the union business office nearby.

“Seized were bank records, invoices, credit card records, and tax forms, a person familiar with the investigation said… a person familiar with the investigation said it focused on the union’s finances and its involvement in the political campaigns of Mayor Kenney and state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, who is Dougherty’s brother. Federal authorities are also scrutinizing Dougherty’s finances and taxes, the source said.”

A citizen reporter was quick enough to capture one of the raids on video.

It isn’t without irony that the IBEW office is emblazoned with banners extolling Hillary Clinton for President. In April, Hillary Clinton had a sit-down meeting with John Dougherty.

This investigation could have far-reaching implications for federal, state and local politics. We will keep you posted about further developments as they occur.
Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

IBEW Local 98 Backs Hillary

Criminal Union Contract In Pa.

Criminal Union Contract In Pa.

By Sen. Scott WagnerCriminal Union Contract In Pa.

There is a phrase in the outside world called “ass backwards”. Here is a story that reinforces this term.

A second phrase that is used frequently is – “Timing is everything.”

And a word that applies to Governor Wolf is “Secrecy.”

Late yesterday afternoon (Aug. 3) Penn Live posted a story titled, “Proposed contracts reached with Pa’s two largest state employee unions.”

The article reports that Governor Wolf negotiated pay increases for employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13 and Service Employees International Union Local 668.

The first increase becomes effective on Oct. 1 – there are total of five increases – the last increase becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2019.

Oct. 1, 2016 to Jan. 1, 2019 is 27 months.

Oct. 1, 2016 2.75%
July 1, 2017 2.00%
Jan. 1, 2018 2.25% (Step increase)
July 1, 2018 2.50%
Jan. 1, 2019 2.25% (Step Increase)
Total increase 11.75% – over 27 months

Here is where the “ass backwards” phrase applies – The PA State legislature just voted on the 2016-2017 PA budget this past June. Where in the budget that was just passed are these increased labor costs factored and what is the total cost?

The Independent Fiscal Office is reviewing the contracts so we should know soon how much this will cost PA taxpayers.

Should the legislature have been given details so that we could evaluate these additional labor costs to determine where the money is coming from to cover these costs?

The Penn Live article states that “neither the union or administration would release details of the tentative agreement” – it is important to note that Governor Wolf has the sole authority to negotiate with the public sector unions representing state employees without any input or review from the legislature – the legislature simply gets handed the bill for these increases – this is “Secrecy” at its best.

On Aug. 3 on ABC 27 Governor Wolf stated that he is running for re-election – Governor Wolf gives generous raises to unionized state employees and then announces that he is running for re-election – so you see folks – “Timing is everything.”

My beef as a PA State Senator is with the current budget process in Harrisburg and the lack of transparency – what are the details?

If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, actions by the legislature, Governor Wolf, and his staff would be considered criminal acts and we would be led out of the Capitol building in handcuffs for hiding money and not disclosing off balance sheet liabilities.

It is important to note that I asked dozens of questions over the last year regarding the budget – I serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee – I asked a lot of questions and did not get answers to many of my questions – Governor Wolf and his budget staff operated with a large amount of secrecy.

The current budget process and its many faults could be solved by moving to performance-based budgeting.

I have a rule in my business world – if I ask questions – I expect answers – over my 350year private sector business career I have had times where I did not get all of the details and it ended up costing me money, and in some instances, a lot of money.

As a result of unanswered questions on the budget – I voted “NO” on the increased spending package of $1.4 billion and tax increases of $1.2 billion in June.

Last time I checked – voters in my district sent me to Harrisburg to do the right thing – I can assure you I will continue on that path.

Sen. Wagner represents the 28th District in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Criminal Union Contract In Pa.

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

By Leo Knepper

It is fairly common and legal in Pennsylvania for teachers to engage in union activity while continuing to collect their teaching salary. The practice, officially known as “release time”, is written into union contracts all over the commonwealth. In addition to receiving a taxpayer-funded salary, these ghost teachers were also accruing time in the Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS). In other words, some union officials who had not set foot in a classroom for years were increasing the value of their pension at taxpayers’ expense. That arrangement may finally be coming to an end. Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

In late June, PSERS revoked the pension credit accumulated by a ghost teacher in Allentown. Furthermore, PSERS ruled that the past two union heads had accrued more than $1 million in pension benefits illegally. An article published by Watchdog.org details PSERS findings:

“PSERS concluded, ‘an active member is permitted to receive retirement credit while working for a collective bargaining organization provided: (1) at least half the members of the organization are members of PSERS; (2) the employer approves the leave; (3) the collective bargaining organization reimburses the employer for the member’s salary and benefits; (4) the member works full-time; and (5) the employer reports only the salary the member would have earned as a school employee.'”

PSERS’s ruling is great news for taxpayers. Teachers who are working exclusively for the union have no business being paid by taxpayers or collecting a taxpayer funded pension. The union is appealing the decision; we will let you know what ultimately happens.

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

Wagner Target Of AFL-CIO

Wagner Target Of AFL-CIO

By Scott Wagner

Wagner Target Of AFL-CIO
Sen. Scott Wagner

The purpose of this column is to make you aware of something that I suspect is occurring as a result of my work as a PA State Senator to initiate government reforms in Harrisburg.

I have reported that I view the public sector unions in Pennsylvania as one of the largest obstacles to important government reforms in Harrisburg.

I have also mentioned that I own and operate a waste and recycling company that is based in York, Pennsylvania.

My waste company provides services to numerous municipalities in South Central Pennsylvania.

from an attorney based in Pittsburgh seeking any and all information relating to current waste contracts and all bid documents submitted by my waste company to the municipalities.

A quick Google search brought up a website for the attorney submitting the requests.

The attorney’s profile states that he, “concentrates his work representing labor unions.”

His profile goes on to state that, “he is a member of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee and serves on its board of directors.”

For informational purposes it is worth noting that the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO states on their website that they represent an “estimated 900,000 members”.

900,000 AFL-CIO union members paying dues each and every month is a cash machine to union headquarters and may amount to more than a half billion dollars or more collected each year from union member paychecks.

Here is their website: www.paaflcio.org

The President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is Rick Bloomingdale.

Rick Bloomingdale is highly irritated by my efforts to make any reforms in Pennsylvania.

Here is a story posted last year: http://watchdog.org/214822/union-scott-wagner-compensation/

It is clear to me that the “Right-To-know”  requests being sent to municipalities throughout South Central Pennsylvania by the attorney are the beginning of a campaign to intimidate me.

The AFL-CIO union opposes any reforms that I believe are urgently needed in Pennsylvania.

Pension reform, liquor privatization and a reduction in the size of state government are a few of the reforms that the AFL-CIO oppose.

It is important to note that the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO union was one of the largest contributors to Governor Wolf’s 2014 campaign for Governor.

In fact, on Jan. 20, 2015 when Governor Wolf was sworn in, Rick Bloomingdale, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President had a front row seat with other high level union officials.

Governor Wolf and the public sector unions have partnered to block reforms in Pennsylvania.

It is also important for everyone to know that Governor Wolf has sole authority to negotiate wage and benefit increases with all of the public sector unions that employ state workers (this does not include teacher contracts which are negotiated by each individual school board).

I have said repeatedly and continue to educate the citizens of Pennsylvania that as long as Governor Tom Wolf is the Governor of Pennsylvania, your school taxes will continue to go up and the status quo of Harrisburg will continue.

There is good news and bad news.

The good news is that Governor Wolf’s term ends in 32 months.

The bad news is we still have 32 months of Governor Wolf and his partnership with the public sector unions.

We need a Republican Governor in Harrisburg to work with the growing Republican majority in the State House and Senate to reform Pennsylvania.

Many people are asking if I am going to run for Governor of Pennsylvania, and my answer remains the same: I am considering it.

Pennsylvania needs a real leader who can bring everyone together and move Pennsylvania in the right direction.
Sen. Wagner represents the 28th District in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Wagner Target Of AFL-CIO

Collective Bargaining Deals Now Public

Collective Bargaining Deals Now PublicCollective Bargaining Deals Now Public — SB 644 is now Act 15 of 2016. Gov. Wolf signed the bill April 14. It requires the details of collective bargaining agreements of employees under the jurisdiction of the Governor be made public before their finalization.

We suspect the average citizen of the state always thought that was the case. You would have been wrong but now it is.

SB 644 was championed by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48) and he deserves high praise.

The bill was  passed on a 29-19 party-line vote by the by the Senate last May 6.

It was approved 108-83 by the House on March 21 with Ted Harhai of the 58th District being the only Democrat in favor and only eight Republicans dissenting. The dissenters included Delaware County representatives Nick Miccarelli of the 162nd District and James Santora of the 163rd District.

Hat tip Matt Brouillette of Commonwealth Foundation.

Collective Bargaining Deals Now Public