EPLC Education Notebook
Friday, October 2, 2009
Content in this edition:
The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.
State legislators returned to Harrisburg this week to continue work on a 2009-2010 state budget, now three months late. While there seems to be continuing agreement among three of the legislative caucuses and Governor Rendell about the agreed-to $27.945 billion budget spend number, members continue to debate the revenue options to support that spending presented in a handshake budget deal previously announced by the Governor and the legislative caucus leaders. House Republicans continue to oppose the spending side of the agreement as well as the revenue measures that have been suggested.
Opposition within the House Democratic Caucus to proposed taxes on the arts and small games of chance, as well as opposition to a plan to expand leasing of state land for natural gas drilling, led the House Rules Committee to pass a tax code bill (House Bill 1531) on Thursday (October 1) that would swap out those revenue sources in exchange for a severance tax on natural gas drilling and a tax on tobacco products (such as smokeless tobacco and cigars). The House could vote on the alternative revenue proposal today (October 2). Yesterday, Senate Republican leaders said there was no support within their caucus for those changes.
Other aspects of the revenue package would increase the cigarette tax by 25 cents a pack, reduce state tax credit programs, implement a tax amnesty program, add table games at casinos, accelerate sales tax delivery, delay the phase-out of the Capitol Stock and Franchise Tax and set it back at 2008 levels, and make changes to the single-sales factor and net-operating loss tax provisions for businesses.
State HouseThe House adopted the following resolutions this week:
House Resolution 424: Designates Valley Forge Military College as the Official Military College of Pennsylvania and establishes the Valley Forge Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative Program which allows each member of the House and Senate to establish a local committee to select an appointee to the program. The bill was amended by the House to include language that requires the House and Senate Committees on Ethics and Official Conduct to develop guidelines to govern local selection committees.
House Resolution 474: Designates the month of October 2009 as “Parent Involvement Month” in Pennsylvania.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, speaking at an Education Stakeholders Forum in Washington D.C., shared his vision of what the next version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (renamed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002) should look like. Secretary Duncan said that the NCLB law has significant flaws and that he looks forward to working with Congress to address the law's problems. He believes the law places too much emphasis on standardized tests, unfairly labels many schools as failures, and doesn't account for students' academic growth in its accountability system. The session was the first in a series of events where education stakeholders will offer input about the law’s reauthorization. For more information on the events and to read the Secretary’s remarks, click here.
Rep. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) this week won a special election to fill the State Senate seat vacated when Sen. Rob Wonderling left to become head of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Mensch will serve out the remaining 16 months of Wonderling’s term as representative of Pennsylvania’s 24th Senatorial district.
For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.