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House ends pension debate by sending bill back to committee

July 2, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Fifteen Republicans broke ranks and voted with a unanimous block of House Democrats to shut down debate on a pension bill Tuesday afternoon and send it back to committee.

It was an inglorious end … Read the rest

Senate backs higher cigarette tax to pay for Philly schools

July 1, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Smokers in Philadelphia soon could be paying extra taxes to support the city’s schools.

The state Senate on Monday approved an amendment that would allow the City Council to impose a $2 per-pack tax … Read the rest

State Senate takes symbolic step on pensions, further reforms left waiting

July 1, 2014 | By | Posted in Legislature

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

The state Senate on Monday approved a bill to create a new pension system for state officials, but it’s a symbolic step that will do virtually nothing to address Pennsylvania’s $50 billion unfunded pension … Read the rest

Pennsylvania considers performance-based layoffs for teachers

June 27, 2014 | By | Posted in Legislature

By Mary C. Tillotson | Watchdog.org

Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow school administrators to base layoff decisions in part on teachers’ performance, as measured by the state’s new evaluation system.

“My goal is to protect our … Read the rest

Philly schools to get $39M boost in House-passed budget, but want more

June 27, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

The cash-strapped School District of Philadelphia would receive a modest increase in state funding next year under the provisions of a budget bill approved this week by the state House.

The Republican-crafted budget attempts … Read the rest

PA Senate discussing move to 401(k)-style pension plans

June 26, 2014 | By | Posted in Legislature

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Republican lawmakers in the state House spent the past week trying to cobble together enough votes to overhaul the state pension system.

With that effort seemingly stalled — for now — the Senate is … Read the rest

School district costs central to PA Republicans’ pension pitch

June 23, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Pennsylvania’s House Republican leaders hope to vote on a pension overhaul bill this week, and they spent the past week trying to court votes from members who are still on the fence.

Since all … Read the rest

Pension bill could get a vote next week, but it sidesteps funding issues

June 19, 2014 | By | Posted in Governor, Legislature

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

House Republicans, urged on by Gov. Tom Corbett, hope to move forward next week with a plan to overhaul the state pension systems.

But what isn’t contained in their proposal could prove to be … Read the rest

Turnpike tolls to rise again next year — and they’ll keep rising

June 18, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The cost of using the Pennsylvania Turnpike will increase next year.

The Turnpike Commission voted Tuesday to raise tolls by 5 percent for both cash-paying customers … Read the rest

Corbett endorses Tobash pension plan, but savings could be iffy

June 6, 2014 | By | Posted in Governor

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

The effort to fix Pennsylvania’s pension problems got a boost from Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday, but there are still lots of questions about whether the effort will save the state much money.

Corbett … Read the rest

Feds may disallow PA’s managed care providers tax, could ask repayment of $1.7B

June 3, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Pennsylvania may have to repay $1.7 billion to the federal government and may not be allowed to continue levying a tax on managed care providers to help fund Medicaid programs.

The inspector general for Read the rest

Pension overhaul could save $11B over 30 years but offers no immediate relief

May 29, 2014 | By | Posted in Legislature

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

An effort to overhaul Pennsylvania’s public sector pension plans got a key thumbs-up Wednesday but still faces several hurdles and would do little to solve the short-term pension problems in this year’s state budget.… Read the rest

Three explanations for Allyson Schwartz’ primary election nightmare

May 22, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

The autopsy of U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz’ gubernatorial hopes is complete.

Post-election reporting laws require us to tell you that Schwartz was, at one time, considered the frontrunner in a Democratic field that did … Read the rest

PA’s closed primary system shuts out independent voters

May 20, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

Voters are heading to the polls in Pennsylvania.

Well, actually, only voters who are registered with political parties who have races on the ballot are welcome at the polls Tuesday — in other words, just … Read the rest

Corporate tax questions dog Wolf in final days before PA primary

May 19, 2014 | By | Posted in Features

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

A day before the Democratic gubernatorial primary election, there’s no reason Tom Wolf would want to trade places with any of his fellow candidates.

But being the frontrunner comes with certain drawbacks.

Wolf holds … Read the rest

Cops can now search your car without a warrant

May 14, 2014 | By | Posted in Features

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

If the police stop you in Pennsylvania, they don’t need a warrant to search your car.

And soon, you could be in trouble even if they find nothing.

The state Supreme Court ruled last … Read the rest

Dems make another push for PA Medicaid expansion

May 8, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Democratic lawmakers are again looking for a way to pressure Gov. Tom Corbett and majority Republicans into accepting the Medicaid expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act.

State Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Philadelphia, said Wednesday … Read the rest

PA lawmakers get stern warnings from three major credit rating agencies

May 5, 2014 | By | Posted in General News, Governor, Legislature

By Eric Boehm | PA Indepenent

Once is a fluke, twice can be a coincidence.

But three times is a trend.

During the past two weeks, all three major credit rating agencies have issued stern warnings to Pennsylvania policymakers in … Read the rest

FBI document details alleged misdeeds of Philly union boss

April 30, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

A state judge this week unsealed documents from a 2006 FBI investigation into infamous Philadelphia union boss John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty.

The document is a sworn affidavit by FBI Special Agent Kathleen O’Hanlon, … Read the rest

Why something called an ARC matters so much to Pennsylvania’s pension mess and credit rating

April 25, 2014 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Pennsylvania’s debt outlook remains negative because the state still underfunds its pension systems and is unlikely to fully fund them in the coming years.

Fitch’s, a credit ratings agency, gave that sobering view of … Read the rest