West Chester Swim Coach Makes $420,172

West Chester Swim Coach Makes $420,172 by Sen. Scott Wagner

West Chester Swim Coach Makes $420,172
State Sen. Scott Wagner

Good news was delivered last week – John Hanger, Governor Wolf’s Policy Chief resigned on Friday.

Click here for the story.

John Hanger resigning is good for Pennsylvania. John Hanger was not a nice guy and it was either his way or the highway. It was very clear that John Hanger’s personal beliefs had become a large part of Governor Wolf’s agenda.

Even better news – John Hanger is moving to Massachusetts to join his wife.

Second Subject – PA Senate Appropriations Committee hearings began yesterday (Feb. 22) and go on for the next six weeks.

Governor Wolf has an unfinished budget from last year and delivered his 2016 – 2017 budget address two weeks ago.

Governor Wolf is again asking Pennsylvanians to pay more taxes while continuing to use the “more money for students” line.

I reported in an email blast several weeks ago that the PA Auditor General completed an audit on the Pittsburgh School District and found $129 million that was not being reported.

The first budget hearing that took place yesterday was with staste Budget Secretary Randy Albright.

I asked Secretary Albright if he was aware of the Auditor General’s report on the Pittsburgh School District and was if he was aware of the missing $129 million. He replied that he was not aware of the missing $129 million.

I responded that his answer was unacceptable.

My question is this: How could the PA Budget Secretary who represents the Governor’s Office appear in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee to ask for more money and not be aware of the $129 million  that our own PA Auditor General found in a public school district audit?

Within the next month the Auditor General will be issuing the results of an audit that was recently performed on the Philadelphia School District. I predict the findings will reveal massive financial mismanagement in the Philadelphia School District.

Patriot News reporter Jan Murphy published a story, Feb. 16, titled – “$100,000 Club – Search the database of PA state government top 2015 earners.”

The story noted that in 2013 there were 4,822 people who earned $100,000 per year or more in state government. In 2014 the number grew to 6,356 people earning over $100,000 per year or more. It grew again to 7,692 people in 2015 earning $100,000 or more.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee I will be participating in budget hearings with agencies that are all looking for increased funding. At the same time, Governor Wolf is again looking for Pennsylvanians to pay more in taxes. With that in mind and after reading Jan Murphy’s story I have to ask myself this question….when is enough money enough?

Ms. Murphy asks a great question in her story: “Take a guess at which person in all of state government made more money last year: The Governor, A Supreme Court Justice, A Legislator, A Professor, or a swimming coach.”

“There’s little chance the swimming coach would be the one you’d pick.”

The swimming coach at West Chester University had earnings of $420,172 last year.

I believe that Pennsylvania is in the beginning stages of a recession.

Many elderly homeowners living on fixed incomes cannot afford their school – property taxes and are faced with selling their homes.

Many businesses linked to the energy industry are laying off employees in droves because of historic low gas and oil prices.

Still Governor Wolf wants more money from the people I just mentioned?

The answer is simple for me – Absolutely Not – it is time for Pennsylvania Government to immediately go on a diet – and that means now.

To be Crystal Clear – I will NOT be voting for any tax increases for the 2016-17 budget and I fully intend to educate and lobby my Republican colleagues to also vote for zero tax increases.

Since I joined the PA State Senate in April of 2014 I have seen firsthand, examples of waste, fraud, abuse and financial mismanagement. It is time to clean house and restructure the mess in Harrisburg and get our financial act together.

Stay tuned – I will be asking many questions during the Senate Appropriations Hearings – one of my questions for each agency head will be – “You need to figure out how to live on less funding from Harrisburg – are you capable of doing that?

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

West Chester Swim Coach Makes $420,172

Money Floats Around In Pa

Money Floats Around In Pa — By Leo Knepper

A couple of weeks ago, Sen. Scott Wagner pointed out the $129 million “Swiss Bank Account” operated by the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The massive cash reserve was brought to light by a report from the Auditor General just in time to avoid an unnecessary tax increase. It is reasonable and prudent for school districts to maintain a rainy day fund. However, Pennsylvania school districts are ready for a biblical flood. They have a combined $4 billion in reserves socked away, but that doesn’t prevent them from crying poverty at every opportunity.  Money Floats Around In Pa

There are other, more disturbing, examples of off the books pools of money that came to light during the budget “crisis”. Even in the absence of a budget, Governor Wolf managed to spend over $30 billion. This spending got the attention of several Representatives last year and what they found was eye-opening. One of the accounting tricks employed by the Governor was the use of waivers:

“Their digging uncovered that $2.7 billion in waivers, which is money left over from previous budget years, had been spent in the four months after the 2014-15 fiscal year ended at the end of June.”

As we enter another budget season, Representatives and Senators need to determine how much more money is floating around off the books. Money left over from previous budgets does not belong to government agencies, it belongs to the taxpayers. Having an accurate assessment of the amount of unspent, previously allocated funds could save taxpayers billions of dollars going forward and plug that “structural deficit” the Governor keeps mentioning.

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

Governor Wolf Handshake Dishonorable

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.

Governor Wolf Handshake Dishonorable
His handshake can’t be trusted

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.

Click here for one example: http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-air-products-posts-quarterly-earnings-20160129-story.html

Governor Wolf and his administration have not delivered any sizable cost reductions or efficiency savings over the last year – Governor Wolf cares about one thing – raising taxes on Pennsylvanians.

It is time to “Restructure Harrisburg” – the time is now, not next week, next month, or next year.

The bad news is that Governor Wolf will not do any “Restructuring” while he is office – so the next three years are going to be tough for everyone – especially Pennsylvania Taxpayers.

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


Governor Wolf Handshake Dishonorable

New Wolf Budget Also Burdens Little Guy

New Wolf Budget Also Burdens Little Guy By Matthew J. Brouillette

Yesterday, Feb. 9, Gov. Wolf doubled down on his tax-and-spend agenda. Here are five facts you need to know about how Gov. Wolf’s budget would affect your family and our state:

1. It’s more of the same. Wolf’s proposed budget mirrors what he repeatedly offered—and lawmakers repeatedly rejected—last year: Massive tax hikes and record spending increases. Wolf New Budget Also Burdens Little Guy

2. It’s the biggest spending increase in 25 years. Wolf’s $33.3 billion General Fund budget (including pension payments) represents a 10% increase over the budget passed by the legislature in December and is the bgigest spending increase since 1991-92.

3. Wolf’s tax hike = $850 more per family four annually.

4. Wolf’s budget includes $1.1 billion more for public schools, on top of the record-high level of funding passed by the legislature in December. This comes with no accountability measures and with punitive cuts to public charter schools.

5. At least eight different tax hikes are in the budget. This includes an 11% personal income tax hike—retroactive to January 2016 (in other words, you already owe the state more taxes).

Wolf talked about ‘saving’ the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. Instead, he’s taxing us backwards and forwards.

Join us in telling Gov. Wolf, “Please, no more taxes!” Get all the budget facts—and a catchy decal—over on our site at Commonwealth Foundation.

Matthew J. Brouillette is president and CEO of Commonwealth Foundation.

Wolf New Budget Also Burdens Little Guy

Structural Deficits Can’t be Fixed By Tax Hikes

Structural Deficits Can't be Fixed By Tax HikesStructural Deficits Can’t be Fixed By Tax Hikes by Leo Knepper

On Feb. 9, Governor Wolf will offer his annual budget address.

Despite being unable to force the legislature to raise taxes to cover a laundry list of campaign promises, Wolf will demand that the government spend even more money in his second budget address. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Governor Wolf has been a broken record when it comes to calling for spending more money. How it makes sense from Wolf’s perspective to demand more spending and simultaneously insist that we have a “structural deficit” is anyone’s guess. If there were a structural deficit, the rational thing to do would be to cut spending. Considering the odd juxtaposition of demanding more spending and claiming a deficit, it was a smart move on his part to avoid the ironic humor of offering his budget address on Groundhog Day.

The Governor will likely offer a vision of the next budget filled with rainbows and unicorns for everyone. He is unlikely to offer any concrete plan to pay for it, outside of calling for one group or another to pay their “fair share”. For his 2015-2016 budget, Wolf singled out the natural gas industry as the source of nearly limitless tax revenue; at least, that is how he presented it. Thankfully, the legislature did not fall into this trap. All of the states who rely on severance tax revenue to meet their regular budget needs are in an incredible bind as the result of the collapse in the price of oil and gas. All of the other tax proposals that Wolf offered to pay for his spending binge were ultimately rejected by the General Assembly.

One way to streamline the budget process this year would be for the House and Senate to do something unusual for the government. Typically, the legislature has decided how much money it was going to spend and then scramble to determine who has to come up with the money to pay for it. This is the opposite of how things are done in the real world. This year the General Assembly should determine how much money is available first and then decide how to spend it. Families do this all the time, that is why they generally have food to eat but may not be able to take a vacation. The Governor and General Assembly would be smart to follow the same example.
Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.


Structural Deficits Can’t be Fixed By Tax Hikes

Wagner Describes Budget Reality

Wagner Describes Budget Reality — For those who missed state Sen. Scott Wagner’s interview with Robb Hanrahan on CBS21’s Face the State, Sunday, it can be found here or below.

Wagner Describes Budget Reality
Sen. Scott Wagner

Wagner is an excellent legislator and the interview is worth watching.

“If there is anything that I want to say today, that I want people to hear, we have a pension crisis. It’s a $60 billion crisis,” Wagner told Hanrahan. “We have no way of getting out of that crisis. We cannot change benefits for people in the system. Constitutionally, we cannot do it. Yeah, we can try. It will go to the state Supreme Court and get kicked back.”

Obviously, the Senator has looked into the matter. What likely motivated him do so was this revelation he reported back in May that there were those in the state getting $400,000-plus public pensions.

We would like to point out that whatever ink has been placed on paper by politicians working corruptly with lobbyists enough wind caused by cold, honest anger can blow those words away.

And yes, someone with a $477,591  pension– that’s you former Penn State president Rodney Erickson — asking a family with an income of $45,000 to bail him out, is something to be coldly and honestly angry about. It is the epitome of immoral indifference and injustice. It is something you would think would be more fitting of a French nobleman circa 1788 rather than an American.

By the way, Gary Schultz of Jerry Sandusky scandal fame has a publicly guaranteed pension of $330,699. Yes, working guy and gal, the powers-that-be want you to cover it.

We would like to also point out that the mild pension reforms being pushed by the decent Republicans in the legislature such as Wagner and which have been shot down time and again by the not-so-decent powers-that-be do not concern existing pensions and would be unarguably constitutional.

Also in the interview, Wagner said that Pennsylvania’s true spending is about $99 billion of which the widely discussed general fund budget consists of  about $31 billion or less than a third.

Wagner described the state’s twisted budget process in which department heads expect automatic increases of up to 5 percent and say their funds have been cut if the hike is less. The commonsense business practice that Wagner advocates is reviewing for places were cuts can be made and existing funds better allocated.

Wagner noted that the state government is filled with what he termed “Swiss bank accounts” some of which are called Ledger 5 funds and are accessed at the discretion of the governor.

“There’s not a lot of transparency,” Wagner said. “. . . I asked our appropriations staff have we ever asked what what’s in those accounts.”

The staff said that they had asked.

So how did the governor reply?

“We never got an answer,” he said.

Wagner said he filed a “right to know” request 30 days ago and he is still awaiting a response.

Wagner said that among the money Gov. Wolf cut when he finally signed a budget on Dec. 29 was about $6 million for critical access hospitals, which are small 25-bed or less hospitals that serve rural districts and are now endangered.

“The Governor has $6 million in his grocery account,” Wagner said.

For some reason, though, he is holding these rural hospitals hostage.

“If these hospitals close, where do the people go?” Wagner said.

Wagner Describes Budget Reality