State Legislators Want to Bigfoot Philly’s New Sick Leave Ordinance

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Pennsylvania legislators met yesterday in Harrisburg to hone a bipartisan amendment that would vitiate the seven-plus years of work that went into Philadelphia’s sick leave ordinance by making it retroactive to January 1st of this year.

SB333, proposed by state Sen. John Eichelberger and state Sen. Lisa Boscola, “would provide for clear state preemption of local mandated leave ordinances.” Such ordinances, a memo from the legislators suggests, represent overreach by local governments, which should apparently be confined to a certain “sphere of power” that doesn’t obstruct the uniform application of public policy. Read more »

Tom Wolf’s Incredible Plan to Overhaul Philly Taxes

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Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his first budget plan for Pennsylvania Tuesday, and it’s nothing if not ambitious.

What got a little lost in the coverage of Wolf’s budget address, though, is that he is also proposing big changes for Philadelphia’s local taxes. The Wolf administration says his budget would provide about $538 million in tax relief for the city, which would be funded by his planned hike on statewide personal income and sales taxes. Here are the specifics, via Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan, which he says would all go into effect in 2016-17:

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Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Announcement

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Governor Tom Wolf is announcing his big, bold agenda today at 11:30 a.m. and Philly Mag’s Holly Otterbein will be providing live updates of the address. (Read the full text of his address below, and read Holly Otterbein’s take on the five boldest elements of Wolf’s budget.)

Watch the live stream here, and follow along on Twitter:



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Tom Wolf: We Found $109M in Savings in Two Weeks

Gov. Wolf | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Gov. Wolf | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

About two weeks ago, Gov. Tom Wolf launched the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Modernization and Efficiency. He even calls it by its cheesy acronym: GO-TIME.

Wolf says the office has already located $109 million in expected cost savings for Pennsylvania.

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Pa. Senate Eyes Low State Vaccination Rate

flu vaccine

Remember that Pew study showing Pennsylvania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in all the 50 states? The news didn’t go over so well in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The chamber’s Committee on Public Health and Welfare this week gave approval to a resolution calling for a study on how to increase youth vaccinations in the state. “According to the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition, approximately 23 percent of 2-year-olds in Pennsylvania are not up-to-date for the currently recommended vaccines,” Sen. Shirley Kitchen, a Philadelphia Democrat, said in a memo sponsoring the resolution. “The goal of this staff study is to improve public health by addressing issues that affect youth vaccination within our Commonwealth.
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PA House Passes Liquor Privatization, 114-87

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The Pennsylvania House passed a bill Thursday to privatize the state-run liquor system by a vote of 114-87. Here’s how the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board would be deconstructed, according to a statement from House Republicans:

The bill allows beer distributers to expand their businesses to sell liquor and wine, as well as beer. The bill also allows private wine wholesalers to sell products to Commonwealth customers. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) would still operate state stores until retail outlets are double the numbers of current state-operated outlets.

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How and Why States Bigfoot Their Cities

State Capitol Harrisburg

Tyrannical. | Shutterstock.com

Harrisburg is Philadelphia’s do-nothing overlord that’s constantly foiling our fun, kind of like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. Take UberX, for example. Mayor Nutter’s on board. City Council supports it. And yet the Philadelphia Parking Authority, patronage arm of the GOP that it is, refuses to grant the company a license to operate UberX legally on our streets.

It’s a tired story: Harrisburg bigfooting Philadelphia. Why, in a single year—2001—the statehouse seized control of the Parking Authority and the School District of Philadelphia. Harrisburg sucks up money generated by red-light cameras in Philadelphia and spends it on transportation projects across the state. More recently, the state has made the city beg—beg—for the authority to tax its own citizens. Read more »

Conservative Group Sues PFT Over “Ghost Employees” on Philly Schools’ Payroll

School District of Philadelphia

A new conservative nonprofit sued the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) and school district in Common Pleas Court Wednesday over the district’s policy of keeping full-time union employees on the payroll. (Read the full suit below.)

The Fairness Center, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Americans for Fair Treatment, issued a scathing statement about the practice:

What’s a ghost teacher? What else would you call a certified School District of Philadelphia teacher earning a publicly-funded salary, enjoying cost-free health benefits, accruing a state pension, and building up years of seniority without having taught a class in over a decade? It’s true: More than 20 of these ghost teachers are working full-time as union bosses for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers right now—even as city schools face staffing shortages and budget strain.

Appalling stuff, right? Turns out it might be more than a little misleading. Read more »

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