26 May 2012 0 Comments

Liberty Index Part 4: Tier 3 Votes of 2011 – Six Key Votes That Affect Your Life

   Act 18       Jun 30     HB 15   Pennsylvania Web Accountability and Transparency   

     (PennWATCH) Act

TIER 3 FOR LIBERTY   All Members Unanimous Vote

   The Vote was unanimous in both House and Senate and will be graded “All Members” because all legislators and the Governor will get equal credit. 

PennWATCH Pennsylvania Web Accountability Transparency and Contract Hub allows anyone to track how the government is spending tax dollars using a searchable online database. This is a major step forward in bringing transparency to State Government and allowing The Forgotten Taxpayer to “follow the money”.

The Pennsylvania Web Accountability, Transparency and Contract Hub, or PennWATCH, as it is known, was one of the first measures Republicans pushed out of the House this spring after reclaiming majority control from Democrats. It became law with Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature on June 30.

The Web site, which the Governor’s Office of Administration will host, will launch by Dec. 31, 2012.  The new Web site will include spending information; contractor data; state tax collections and federal revenue received; and the name, position and salary of every state employee.

web link Jim Christiana

The vote was unanimous and, yet, under Democratic House Leadership, an identical bill (HB 1460 of 2009  also introduced by Rep. Jim Christiana) was never brought to the floor for a vote. A similar bill had been passed in Republican controlled Senate in 2009.

There is a clear difference between Democrats and the new Republican Majority (to be distinguished from the Perzel Republican Majority).

For some background on HB 1460 of 2009 identical to HB 15 of 2011, see State Spending Transparency Nathan Benefield Commonwealth Foundation 19 June 2009) and Spending Transparency & Accountability (Commonwealth Foundation 3 December 2009)

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Act 22     Jun 30        HB 960 Public Welfare Code – omnibus amendments

TIER 3 FOR LIBERTY – “yea” vote will add 50 points to Legislator’s or Governor’s grade and a “nay” vote will subtract 50 points from the grade.

This Act makes cuts to welfare spending, cuts down on fraud and abuse, gives DPW secretary more power to impose additional reforms, saves taxpayers, ensures welfare dollars go to the truly needy and saves the Forgotten Taxpayer $5 MILLION DOLLARS.

Senate Fiscal Note $5,000,000 in savings to taxpayers

House Fiscal Note : FISCAL IMPACT: This legislation is the vehicle for implementation authority to achieve the anticipated state savings included in the General Fund budget for the Department of Public Welfare and the Department of Corrections.

Specifically, the following state savings are included in the FY2011-12 budget for DPW: $109million for the adjustment to the hospital assessment; $4.8million for the payment change for hospital re-admissions; $10million for hospital low cost outliers payments; $16million for restructuring child care co-payments; $53.7million for new limits on dental and pharmacy benefits; $10million for imposition of copayments or premiums on families with ‘loophole’ children or a total of $193.5million.

The Department of Corrections’ budget assumes $4.5million in savings due to the provision requiring hospitals to charge no more than medical assistance rates for inpatient care provided to state/county prisoners.

 

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  Act 25      Jun 30     SB 330  Taxpayer Relief Act – public referendum requirements and installment payment of school real property taxes

TIER 3 FOR LIBERTY – A “yea” vote will add 50 points to Legislator’s or the Governor’s grade and a “nay” vote will subtract 50 points from the grade.  

Ten exceptions laid out in the original law, Act 1 of 2005,  allowed districts to ask the state Department of Education — instead of voters — to raise taxes above its index. Legislators removed seven of the 10 exceptions to the voter referendum requirement, leaving pension obligations, special education costs and existing or voter-approved debt as categories under which districts could apply.    

House Fiscal Note

Senate Fiscal Note

 

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Act 46        Jul 7    HB 797 Workers’ Compensation Act – cancer in the occupation of firefighter

 

TIER 3 AGAINST LIBERTY – ALL MEMBERS UNANIMOUS VOTE

   50 points will be subtracted from the ALL MEMBERS

 

This was a very expensive vote for the citizens of Pennsylvania.

This bill (then HB 1231) was vetoed by former Governor Ed Rendell because it was too expensive.  This is an unfunded mandate falling on the local taxpayer’s and fire companies. However, this legislation threatens public safety by raising the specter of cuts to essential services, or of forcing local governments to raise property taxes at the same time that Pennsylvania families are struggling economically.

Unlike most occupational injuries or diseases, HB 1231 would establish a presumption that any cancer diagnosis would be a result of firefighting activities – and the benefit provider, in this case local government, would bear the almost impossible burden to prove otherwise. The current printer number of HB 1231 would only permit employers to rebut the presumption of occupationally caused cancer by attempting to essentially prove a negative by requiring “proof of conduct or activities outside of firefighting duties that posed a substantial risk of causing the cancer.” This legislation also drastically differs from every other state cancer-presumption law, both because of this flawed rebuttable standard and because it would create the presumption for virtually every form of cancer when medical science simply does not know what causes most cancers.

While the total cost of this legislation is unknown – which is a problem in itself – experts predict that it would be significant, and the burden would be felt through tax hikes, cuts to local services, or both and, even worse, those cuts could be to firefighting activities. Municipal workers’ compensation insurance trusts predict drastic rate increases and question their ability to even underwrite coverage of occupational cancer claims under this flawed bill. If municipalities lose this coverage, it could create a catastrophic financial situation.

House Fiscal Note:  This legislation:   Designates cancer as an occupational disease;

Provides that the cancer must be caused by exposure to a known carcinogen recognized as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer;

Stipulates that occupational disease claims under this act can only be filed by firefighters:

1. Who have four or more years of continuous firefighting service.

2. Can establish direct exposure to a Group 1 carcinogen.

3. Successfully passed a physical examination prior to asserting a claim, or prior to engaging in firefighting duties, which revealed no evidence of cancer.

Provides that the presumption under the act may be rebutted by substantial competent evidence that shows that the firefighter’s cancer was not caused by the occupation of firefighting.

States that a claim made by a member of a volunteer fire company must be based on evidence of direct exposure to a Group 1 carcinogen as documented by a report filed to the Pennsylvania Fire Information Reporting System.

 UNFUNDED MANDATE-  No fiscal impact to the Commonwealth will result from the provisions in the bill. However, local government entities, trusts, municipalities, and those volunteer fire companies which are self-insured, may experience additional costs due to increased payments for benefits and the resultant potential increases in the entities’ workers’ compensation premiums.

 

 

ACT 130                    Dec 22           SB 1054         Capital Budget Act of 2011-2012

TIER 3 AGAINST LIBERTY-    A “yea” vote will subtract 50 points to legislator’s or the Governor’s grade and a “nay” vote will add 50 points from the grade.  

 

 

This bill borrows $1.6 billion dollars for projects, many of which have very questionable justifications. Even with regard to those that do, there is a question of whether the taxpayers can afford them and what the impact of additional government borrowing has on job creation.

 

Who Will Stop Dominic Pileggi?  And the Republican Leadership Selling Us Out

   Comcast-30 Million Dollars; Janney-10 Million Dollars

A $1.6 billion dollar borrowing and a statewide capital project, politicized corporate welfare, bill was rushed through the Pennsylvania General Assembly  and Governor Signed on December 19th (ACT 130 Dec 22 SB 1054  Capital Budget Act of 2011-2012) ; $460 million of that will go to 197 projects in Philadelphia.  In that group about a dozen are recognizable as local to Democratically controlled Northwest Philadelphia. See entire list of pork below. It is all a matter of record.

Real Life Pirates aren’t as entertaining to the Forgotten Taxpayer who is forced to pay for political pork.

Disgracefully, the Senate voted UNANIMOUSLY for “Debt for Pork” ACT 130 !! Dominic Pileggi is the Majority Leader responsible for engineering this. Republican Leadership Funding Liberal Democratic Donor Projects. What is the purpose of that?

This dramatic graph demonstrates where we are headed as more and more of Pennsylvania’s Taxpayers are forced by government to pay Debt Service without seeing more jobs or seeing that they are better off.

Commonwealth Foundation’s Nate Benefield, the premier policy analyst in Pennsylvania, explains the Act 130 Capital Budget of 2011, including RACP, Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects “Time to End Borrowing for Corporate Welfare 19 December 2011 Nathan Benefield

 

Tweedledee Tweedledum Republicans Finance Democrats with Taxpayer Funds.

 

Democratic Mega Donor Patrick Burns, president and CEO of Fresh Grocer,  Sells First Lady Michelle Obama with his multi-million forgotten  taxpayer financed vision approved of and enacted with connivance of  Republican State Senate, Republican State House and Republican Penna. Governor. Millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars later, is anyone other than Pat Burns and Michelle Obama any better off?

Republican State Senate Leadership 2011-2012 – the Conniving RINOs undercutting Republican Limited Government principles and The Forgotten Taxpayer

Jim Foster’s Germantown Newspapers highlighted some of the obvious political projects in Democratically controlled Northwest Philadelphia and one has to ask why Republican controlled House, a Republican controlled Senate and a Republican Governor fund Democratic Pork Projects which are used to buy Democratic votes? Is this what we can expect from the Republican Leadership?     

$2.5 Million Dollars in Funding for Mt. Airy Transit (photos of vacant lots dramatizes the cynical political appropriation.) Chelten Plaza Update September 1; Appeal Chelten Plaza Zoning (Yvonne Haskins, Esq. 15 September 2011); Chelten Plaza Protesters Take to the Street (21 July 2011); Mt. Airy’s Yvonne Haskins ( 21 July 2011) Pat Burns and His Circle of Friends 21 September 2012); Donna Miller Sells Out Germantown – Again (10 October 2011);  Mr. ATM ( 7 April 2011); Germantown Shortchanged in Rail Station Restoration Work(21 July 2011).

RACPLIST PDF     Philadelphia List  (Germantown Newspapers link)

Bill #0906-00    $3,000,000         Obama Funder multimillion OnePerCenter Pat Burns  Chelten and Pulaski Revitalization

Bill #0363-00     $2,197,598        Obama Funder Brian Roberts’ Comcast Towers, part of total of $30,000,000 appropriation. A ten year tax abatement was not enough. Is too much never enough?

Bill #0247-00         $850,000       Chaka Fattah affiliated House of Imoja

Bill #1041-00       $ 2,500,000     Mt. Airy Transit Village (a vacant lot)

        Links to Original Sources

RACP Grants Re-Released By Governor Corbett  full List State Web Site

Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program      Governor’s Budget Office Official Web Site

Philadelphia List RACP (Germantown Newspapers Link)

 

Millions for Billionaires – what crony capitalism looks like in Pennsylvania.

Why?  Because the Billionaires need it more than the Taxpayers.

Millions of dollars taken by the government from productive Taxpayers are sent to Billions Dollar private, very profitable Billion Dollar corporations. What is the sense of that kind of Redistribution of the Wealth make? Or are these politicized economic and investment decisions masks for crony capitalist vote buying?

Franklin Mint Expansion Exton, Penna.

 

RACP Grants Re-Released By Governor Corbett Full List Governor’s Budget Office

Excerpts:

2       1038‐00 Janney Montgomery Scott Headquarters Philadelphia

$ 10,000,000 02/14/11

3       1050‐00 Teva Pharmaceuticals Philadelphia       $ 2,500,000 02/14/11

138   0882‐01 Shop Rite Montgomery                             $ 500,000       07/26/11

173   3775‐00‐02 Franklin Mint Delaware County       $ 5, 000,000   08/03/11

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   ACT 131                    Dec 22           SB 1249         Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011

  TIER 3 AGAINST LIBERTY 50 POINTS MAJOR IMPACT ON LIBERTY   ALL MEMBERS

  This is a complicated bill containing good provisions and bad provisions and there are valid reasons for voting “yea” or “nay” so this will be graded ALL MEMBERS and all members will have 50 point SUBTRACTED to their grade.

Because the 2001 Districts are, as of now because of population shifts, out of balance, the 2001 District Lines are, therefore, unconstitutional.

The Original Gerrymander

A fine mess our General Assembly has gotten us into. Apparently, they thought the Republican majority Supreme Court would see itself as Republican rather than an independent, separate and equal branch of government to check and balance power.

Or, more simply, why did the General Assembly wait until the last minute to perform  one of their fundamental Constitutional critical  functions to ensure free and fair elections?

Overturned by Order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court 25 Jan 2012

Official Commonwealth Redistricting: The Legislative Guide to Redistricting

Justice Baer’s comments reported at capitolwire BREAKING: Capitolwire’s Pete DeCoursey interviewed Supreme Court Justice Max Baer. Here are the standout quotes:

“I think this year’s election is going to go on the 2001 lines,” Baer said in an interview with Capitolwire. “I think that is what the majority intended and I think that is what a reading of the chief justice’s order said.”

Justice Eakin’s comments “Justice J. Michael Eakin, a Republican, said he did not argue with the “reordering of constitutional priorities by the majority,” but said he did not see a need to make it retroactive.

“Computers or not, drawing a new plan using new rules will not happen in time for this year’s elections,” Eakin wrote in a concurring and dissenting opinion.

Redistricting May Delay Primary Post-Gazette 4 February 2012  The existing districts were drawn in 2001 and because of population shifts, they are presently out of balance and are, probably, unconstitutional.

 

 

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