Report: Pa. Gas Taxes Highest in the Nation

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The good news? Gas is pretty cheap these days — as low as $2.02 a gallon in the Philadelphia area, according to one website.

The not-quite-as-thrilling news? The gas isn’t quite as cheap as it could be: Pennsylvania now has the highest gas taxes in the country.

“Pennsylvania has passed New York and California by earning the dubious distinction of having the highest gasoline taxes in the nation, ” Greg Laskoski writes at GasBuddy.com. “Combined with the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, Pennsylvania’s state tax of 50.5 cpg. brings the combined tax to 68.9 cents per gallon.  Californians pay 63.7 cents per gal., New Yorkers pay 63.4 cents per gal., according to the American Petroleum Institute.”

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Medical Marijuana Back in Play in Pennsylvania?

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State Sens. Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer are try, trying again.

The bipartisan duo — Leach is a Democrat, Folmer a Republican — have reintroduced a bill (below) that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. A similar bill passed the State Senate last year, but stalled when sent to the House.

“This bill needs to get done,” Folmer said in a statement. “There are so many ill and suffering in Pennsylvania that could benefit from medical cannabis – reducing prescriptions of narcotic cocktails of highly addictive and dangerous drugs. Medical cannabis is a much safer and more effective solution.”

“Medical cannabis is a safe and effective alternative to the powerful, addictive, and often ineffective narcotics that doctors already prescribe to cancer patients, children with seizure disorders, veterans suffering from PTSD, and others Pennsylvanians who suffer from terminal health problems,” Leach said in a separate statement emailed to reporters. “It is cruel to continue denying these people the medicine they need.”
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Does Philly Really Have One of America’s Most Efficient School Systems?

WalletHub.com's list of most- and least-efficient cities and their spending on public education.

WalletHub.com’s list of most- and least-efficient cities and their spending on public education.

Get this: A new study from WalletHub.com says Philadelphia has the ninth most-efficient school district in the nation.

Really.

The study compared 90 of America’s most-populated cities, then compared their per-pupil education spending with their math and reading test scores for fourth- and eighth-graders, then adjusted the final ranking for socioeconomic factors. When all is said and done, WalletHub concluded, Philadelphia actually is one of the country’s leaders in getting bang for the educational buck.

But that doesn’t sound quite right, does it? Three observations about what this study does — and doesn’t — mean:

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Earthquake Shakes Chester County

earthquake

A 2.7-magnitude earthquake hit Chester County on Sunday, and a few people even noticed.

“A number of people in Downingtown,  Exton, West Chester and surrounding towns posted on social media that they felt the quake in their homes,” NBC10 reports. “But for most residents, the event was completely unnoticed.”

It really happened though, and was confirmed by the United States Geological Survey.

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In Pa. House, a Fresh Push for Liquor Privatization

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A fresh push to privatize the state’s liquor store system is brewing in the Pennsylvania House, NewsWorks reports.

Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed told NewsWorks that his chamber may revive a privatization bill that passed the House and failed the Senate two years ago.  The Senate’s Republican majority has gotten larger and more conservative since then.

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Snowpocalypse? Not Now.

So much for Snowmageddon. In Philadelphia, at least, the latest “storm of the century” is turning out to be a big dud.

One revised forecast this morning put expected accumulation at 1 to 3 inches of snow in Philadelphia. As late as 10 p.m. Monday, Mayor Nutter said forecasters were still expecting 6 to 10 inches for the city. It appears they were wrong.
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Will District Slap Anti-Testing Teachers?

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Teachers at a Philadelphia school say they face discipline from the school district for helping parents opt their children out of standardized tests.

Kelley Collings, a teacher at Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences, said Monday she is one of a half-dozen teachers called to an “investigatory conference” on the matter, scheduled for Thursday. Collings is also on the steering committee of the Caucus of Working Educators, which helped organize the effort to help students and their families opt out of the tests.

The nature of the accusation against the teachers is unclear, Collings said, but she said the district is attempting to “instill fear” in educators who resist the testing regime. “I’ve never been written up, and I’ve been doing this 15 years,” she said.

Officials at the Philadelphia School District did not respond to inquiries on the topic.

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What’s Ed Rendell Up To?

Just a few minutes ago, Ed Rendell tweeted — or, more precisely, re-tweeted — this:

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That links to our piece last week about how Rendell leads incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey in a hypothetical 2016 election matchup for Toomey’s seat.

So. What’s Rendell up to? Sending a signal? Or having a little fun at Toomey’s expense? The kids call it “trolling,” Ed. And you’re still the Pennsylvania politician who does it best.

Study: In Pennsylvania, Very Rich Getting Richer, Everybody Else Getting Poorer

Updated with comment from the governor’s office.

In Pennsylvania, it really is true that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

Actually, strike that: The very rich are getting richer — and everybody else is is getting poorer.

A new study shows that the average income of the state’s families grew between 2009 and 2013, but only because the top 1 percent earned so much more than the other 99 percent of Pennsylvania residents: Everybody else — the bottom 99 percent of Pennsylvania families — saw their collective income decline by 1.1 percent.

The widening income gap was found across the country, but was particularly pronounced in Pennsylvania.

“The pattern is the same across all the states, which is the income is increasingly flowing up,” said Mark Price, an analyst with Pennsylvania’s Keystone Research Center. “It’s worse some places than others.”

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