|When the GOP claims to have put more state funds into education than ever before, check out the red line on the chart above. The GOP has put marginal funds into ONE education budget line item, while ELIMINATING others.|
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Gov. Corbett has once again demonstrated his complete lack of understanding and disrespect for Pennsylvanians. Rather than admit that policies like cutting school funding, limiting access to health care and failing to invest in transportation infrastructure have failed to energize hiring in our Commonwealth, he'll lay the blame with people who receive busy signals when they call to apply for unemployment compensation, have had to reapply for Medicaid coverage for their children after they were erroneously eliminated, or waiting in line for hours trying to get a photo ID that the GOP told them they'd need in order to vote.
Blaming unemployed Pennsylvanians is not the answer
Gov. Corbett's job numbers speak for themselves. Before Gov. Corbett took office Pennsylvania repeatedly had an unemployment rate below the national average, and was an admirable 7th in job growth -- now we're 49th. His administration boasted that Pennsylvania has recovered 50 percent of pre-recession jobs lost -- meanwhile Maryland has recovered 97 percent of theirs.
The governor has repeatedly championed tax cuts to campaign contributors, while publicly blaming Pennsylvanians for his failed policies. When will he learn that businesses don’t hire people because their tax rate dropped -- they hire people because there is a demand for their goods and services?
Blaming unemployed Pennsylvanians is not the answer
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Here are some photos from an HDPC public hearing on House Bill 790 on March 27 just days after the bill was introduced and rushed through the House. There is one of a standing room only crowd, clearly people are interested in this issue. Thanks to Abington's Big Top Beverage and Rep. Madeleine Dean for hosting us.
I encourage people to ask the House Republicans for pictures from their public hearing and see what they come up with.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
(and thats just the beer distributors)
Consumer ConfusionDays after a marathon debate on liquor privatization 2.0, the Philadelphia Inquirer included an editorial quoting some of my floor remarks, while I am flattered they were paying such close attention, I’m concerned about the “facts” they used to reach their conclusions, after all I’m sure the paper has nothing to gain from private liquor sales (clearing my throat) so why would they ignore history or mislead their readers?
While I wait for them to print my response countering their claims, here are some details of the plan that passed in the state House based off my floor comments and focused on the claims of improved consumer convenience.
The GOP claims liquor privatization is all about consumer convenience, but based on my calculations there are at least 20 different configurations of licenses possible under their plan. Depending on what you want and when determines where you should go… How does this make things less confusing for consumers?
1. Beer Distributor (D) – sells cases of beer
2. Beer Distributor (D) – sells cases of beer and unlimited wine
3. Beer Distributor (D) - sells cases of beer and unlimited wine and unlimited spirits
4. Beer Distributor (D) - sells cases of beer and unlimited spirits
5. Beer Distributor (D) - sells down to a six pack of beer
6. Beer Distributor (D) - sells down to a six pack of beer, and unlimited wine
7. Beer Distributor (D) - sells down to a six pack of beer, unlimited wine and unlimited spirits
8. Beer Distributor (D) - sells down to a six pack of beer, unlimited spirits
9. Restaurants/Hotel (R ) – sell 2 six packs of beer to go and opened bottle of spirits and open bottles of wine
10. Restaurants/Hotel (R ) – sell 2 six packs of beer to go and 4 bottles of sealed wine and open bottles of spirits
11. Restaurant/Hotel (R) - sell up to 4 six packs of beer and open bottle of spirits and open bottles of wine
12. Restaurant/Hotel (R) - sell up to 4 six packs of beer and 4 bottles of sealed wine and open bottles of spirits to go
13. Grocery Store – 12 bottles of wine
14. Grocery Store with a café (R ) – 2 six packs of beer, unsealed/open wine and unsealed/ open bottles of spirits
15. Grocery Store with a café (R ) – 4 six packs of beer, and unsealed/open wine and spirits
16. Grocery Store with an R license and a Grocery Store license - 2 six packs of beer, unsealed/open wine and spirits to go and 12 bottles wine
17. Grocery store with an R license and a Grocery Store license – 4 six packs of beer and 12 bottles wine, open wine and spirits to go
18. Wine and Spirit Retailers – unlimited Wine only
19. Wine and Spirit Retailers – unlimited Wine and unlimited Spirits
20. Wine and Spirit Retailers - unlimited Spirits only
In other words under the plan there would be:
Ø 8 possible license configurations for beer distributors
Ø 4 possible license configurations for restaurants and hotels
Ø 5 possible license configurations for grocery stores
Ø 3 possible license configurations for wine and spirits retailers.
WAIT there’s MOre:
Since this plan is intended to make things less complicated for consumer…Q. What are the hours of operations for a wine and spirit store Monday through Saturday? How about on Sunday?
Answer. 9 a.m. -11 p.m. Monday - Saturday9 a.m. – 9 p.m. if have Sunday permit
No Sunday permit 11 a.m. -9 p.m.
Q. What about a beer distributor
Answer. 24 hours, Monday through SaturdaySunday without permit 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Q. What about a beer distributor that sells wine and spirits?
Answer: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. Monday - SaturdaySunday no permit 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday with permit 9 a.m. -11 p.m. but can’t be 24 hours
Q. What about a grocery store?
Answer. 7 a.m. -11 p.m. Monday through SaturdaySunday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. with permit
Q. What if I go into a Grocery store that has an R license and I want to buy a bottle of wine?
Answer: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through SaturdaySunday without permit 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Sunday with permit 9 a.m. – 2 a.m.
What is the age of employment for the various licenses?
- Wine and Spirit Retail Establishment -21 years old
- Grocery Store with Unlimited Wine – 18 years old
- Restaurant or Bar -18 years old
- Beer Distributor- 18 years old
- Beer Distributor that sells unlimited wine - 21 years old (*note difference with grocery store*)
- Beer Distributor that sells wine and spirits - 21years old
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Three weeks of budget hearings finished up last week -- an annual ritual where state agency chiefs, among others, testify before the legislature’s Appropriations committees saying yea or nay to the governor’s spending priorities.
It got kind of heated for a few testifiers this year.
A week after Attorney General Kathleen Kane rejected the Corbett administration’s rapid, secretive and unconstitutional plan to turn over the state’s thriving Lottery to British firm, Camelot LLC, Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser made his appearance before the House panel. He found himself battered with questions about the lottery plan. Namely, how much the high price consultants the Administration hired need to be paid.
See, even while the Corbett administration decides its next step (and the clock is quickly ticking toward the March 16 deadline), and even if the plan goes up in smoke, Corbett’s handpicked high price consultants still need to be paid -- like MILLIONS and MILLIONS of (taxpayer) dollars.
And before you say, well, come on, how much are we talking? Isn’t “millions and millions” kind of broad? Well that’s all the Administration has been able to report to Pennsylvanians.
When Meuser headed to a Senate hearing a week later – he still didn’t know how much cash we’re talking. He knew it would be “substantial,” but less than $30 million. See where my broad generalization of MILLIONS and MILLIONs comes from?
In my opinion, and probably in a lot of people’s opinions, these multimillion dollar payments to Chicago’s Greenhill & Co. and Baltimore’s Piper LLP are a big deal, and the Administration should dedicate the necessary time to calculating them.
What I find so ironic about the Corbett administration’s inability to figure all of this out, is that on many occasions Gov. Corbett has compared Pennsylvania to the average family (albeit one that will cut to the bone and refuse to consider Jr. picking up a part time job after school) evoking images of a family around the dinner table looking at their finances.
But what family purchases a good or service without knowing the price? Is this the way Pennsylvania families budget? Hire a firm hundreds of miles away and worry about paying the bill later.
Please, if Gov. Corbett is going insist on using his tired analogy comparing Pennsylvania to the typical American family, he ought to at least provide his revenue chief with a calculator.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Here is the text of an email Corbett sent out in response to groundswell of opposition to his plan to privatize the state Lottery. It was distributed on Jan. 19, just days after House Democrats held a Capitol news conference contesting the plan.
This email was meant to convince (aka deceive) seniors into thinking funding for the programs which benefit them would actually gain from giving our state Lottery to a foreign company. This only proves that Gov. Corbett underestimates the intelligence of Pennsylvania seniors. Once they see the facts, I’m guessing they’ll support this about as much as they supported Rick Santorum’s plan to hand their Social Security savings to Bernie Madoff.
Read my comments below for a more accurate explanation of his propaganda point by point.
1. Corbett claims there will be at least $3 billion in new revenue generated for seniors just by handing over the Lottery.
Not so fast. Even if you buy his numbers, any additional revenue generated would come from expanding the Lottery to include Keno and video poker. Heck, PA could meet or exceed those projections if we expanded under our current system, owned and operated by PENNSYLVANIANS. That would make additional dollars under the Corbett giveaway, ZERO.
2. Wow, $50 million set aside in this year’s budget. That one time infusion of cash will definitely make up for the property tax hikes or the millions cut in last year’s budget on programs to keep seniors in their homes. This year’s $50 million won’t help much in future years when Camelot fails to meet projections – for heaven sake it will barely cover the bonuses it’s handing out to its top executives this year!
3. This is fantastic news…but the current Lottery already has its offices in Pennsylvanian, so this isn’t really a gain. And Camelot had already lost a little credibility when it set up shop in neighboring Delaware …home of the infamous tax evasion haven – Delaware Loophole.
4. Camelot has already pledged to hire some employees back, which pretty much proves they’ll be making layoffs. Sure those workers could apply for unemployment compensation, if only the phone lines at Labor and Industry weren’t always busy.
Having the phones lines tied up, is the Corbett’s strongest strategy for keeping Pennsylvania’s unemployment numbers down, and he’s still failing!
5. First, it’s just kind of hard not to laugh when this governor talks transparency. How many of these phone conversations were with voicemail? or how many staff members from the same office sat in on a meeting? Plus the testimony at public hearings came after Corbett’s announcement to award the contract. Although I’m hopeful an intrepid reporter will request the list of the 100 legislators Corbett spoke with, but that’d probably result in another lawsuit against a member of the press – so much for transparency.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
There he goes again! Remember when Gov. Corbett used to say Pennsylvania is just like a family… when the budget was tight, they would sit around a table and figure out how to get through the tough times. Although unlike the average Pennsylvania family that would consider ways to increase income as well as cut, Corbett would never consider letting Johnny take on a paper route or working a second job himself.
In Corbett’s Pennsylvania there was only one way --- cut, cut, cut. But now that support for his slash and burn agenda has disappeared, PA’s pater familia has another quick fix for the Commonwealth’s fiscal woes -- sell, sell, sell.
Yeah, that’s it… the liquor stores, the lottery -- if it’s worth anything put it out for a yard sale and take the best offer.
Just sell it.
Recently the governor renewed his interest in an initiative first mentioned last April: privatizing the state lottery. At the time, Gov. Corbett was just investigating the lottery privatization, and knowing the length of time a Corbett investigation can take, I didn’t expect any action until at least 2014 when the influx of fast cash could help a tough budget in a reelection year.
But now the plan to privatize seems to be on the fast track. Your party’s loss in the presidential, senate, attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer races can be a strong motivator to do something and quickly before anyone can check up on what it is you want to do.
Now the Administration is racing to judgment on the solo bid to privatize the lottery. That’s right, ONE lonely bid – from a company in the United Kingdom. Yes, that same United Kingdom that we fought 236 years ago to get out of our government operations. Maybe the Tea Party can chant, “gaming without representation” and help lift the curse. And like Cinderella’s carriage, this bid disappears on December 31, conveniently before the General Assembly returns to Harrisburg to weigh in on whether to sell off the family assets.
Bear in mind, under its current management by the state’s Revenue Department, the Lottery has increased sales by 8.5% in the last fiscal year -- to $1.06 Billion -- and that these flourishing sales go to fund programs for Pennsylvania’s nearly 2 million seniors. Funds pay for programs like transit, rent and property tax rebates, prescription drug assistance, senior centers and long-term care services.
This leaves many asking: if the Lottery, which is owned by the very citizens it benefits, is already profitable and going to the programs our people depend on, why privatize, especially when there is such little interest from potential takers.
But I say: why stop there? If you want to sell, then sell, baby, sell.
Maybe Camelot Global Services would like to purchase the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Think about it…if it’s good for a portion of the state’s operations, why not ALL state operations? They can’t do a worse job than this Administration regarding roads, education and social services.
In addition to running our lottery and our liquor stores they could pave our roads…for a fee. Operate our schools…for a fee. Care for our infirm…for a fee, and we would never need to pay taxes again. We could just pay a private company with a CEO that makes 15x what the governor earns (so she must be good) to do it for us. By selling out we could probably even punt on our pension obligation.
And if the people don’t like the new benevolent corporate entity, they can move to some other socialist state with a democracy like New Jersey or New York (their governors have colluded with President Obama anyway).
Just as in the case of our state’s liquor stores, the Corbett administration has puts blinders on to the existing case studies. Illinois, which privatized its lottery in 2010, has been let down by private company’s failure to meet its forecasted revenue projection.
Remember a few years ago when the casinos wanted to bring a new industry to the Commonwealth… we said ok…pay a 55% tax -- and they agreed. Contrast that with Corbett and the gas industry when they wanted to come, and he said “Ok” -- for free!
In reality, the Harrisburg Patriot-News Editorial Board has done more research on Lottery privatization than the Corbett Administration, noting that the state has very little negotiating leverage when there is a single bidder.
Once again , just like the sweetheart deal that Corbett struck with Royal Dutch Shell that then required legislative action to implement (tax breaks to the tune of $1.7 Billion), this deal only appears to work on the surface IF the legislature agrees to give the privateers Keno as a revenue source … for free!... just like our shale gas.
Like so many other Grover Norquist devotees, Gov. Corbett placed all the Commonwealth’s bets that Marcellus Shale, if left untaxed, would do so much for the economy in terms of jobs and revenue that he could just sit back and never have to work at governing. It didn’t pan out and now he needs to sell the farm.
Don’t do it governor!