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February 2013

ADDING INSULT TO INJURY: Commonwealth plans to privatize Psychological Services in Prisons

Kathy_Jellison1-150x150By Kathy Jellison, President of SEIU 668

As if the closures of SCI Greensburg and SCI Cresson are not enough, the Department of Corrections has now put out a bid to privatize the Psychological services in the state prisons. And, once again, this was done without any prior notice to the unions, even after DOC Secretary Wetzel apologized for how our members found out about the closures. The DOC has even gone so far as to call in our members to inform them of the bid to privatize. All this while we are still struggling to get our 39 members affected by the SCI closures into new positions.

The Department of General Services put out the bid February 2, 2013 with a closure date of March 17, 2013. The DOG is requesting bids to privatize mental health services at all correctional institutions, including psychiatric staff for all institutions and all mental health staff for mental health units plus psychological staff for all institutions including specialized housing units.

Continue reading "ADDING INSULT TO INJURY: Commonwealth plans to privatize Psychological Services in Prisons" »


The Commonwealth Foundation on Lottery Privatization and Pension Reform

Commonwealth FoundationTwo issues that have found their way onto the Triadvocate in recent weeks have been the privatization of the management of the state lottery and pension reform. 

With the Governor Corbett’s announcement that Camelot has agreed to extend its bid until March 18th, the Governor has more time to decide whether to challenge Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s ruling that that the lottery deal violated the state constitution.  Though Democrats have been outspoken in their criticism of the privatization plan, Republicans have voiced criticism as well. The divide is more philosophical than it is partisan, with conservative members voicing support for the Governor’s plan.  The Commonwealth Foundation has supported the Governor’s proposal seeing the benefit of privatizing the management of the PA state lottery so that costs would be shifted to the private sector.  Matt Brouillette sees the deal as a win-win for Pennsylvania since it would guarantee increased revenues for the lottery.

Continue reading "The Commonwealth Foundation on Lottery Privatization and Pension Reform " »


Medicaid Expansion: Facts not ideology should drive the decision

George Hartwick headshotCompressed

By Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick, III

What if I told you there was a way to provide medical coverage for as many as 700,000 Pennsylvanians, save millions in state and local tax dollars, strengthen our medical community and even create jobs to boot?

Keep in mind that not caring for these folks is not an option, either morally or legally. While many without coverage end up delaying treatment, if their condition worsens and requires emergency care that higher expense ends up coming back to all of us.

This is exactly the choice Gov. Tom Corbett is now facing. Allow Pennsylvania to opt in to an expansion of Medicaid – estimated to immediately save the commonwealth $400 million a year – or turn his back on working families across the state.

Let me repeat that: Working individuals and families. We’re talking about those working part-time or low-paying jobs who cannot afford insurance, as well as older Pennsylvanians who may have been laid off but cannot yet collect Social Security.

Unfortunately for all of us, so far the governor is choosing to turn his back.

Continue reading "Medicaid Expansion: Facts not ideology should drive the decision" »


Friday Happy Hour: Whiskey Rebellion Edition

Bourbon on the rocksLet’s begin with a nugget of good news: we here at Happy Hour HQ are thrilled to report that our long national nightmare is over – Maker’s Mark has decided NOT to reduce the alcohol content of its bourbon. Instead of another foolish foray into fixing something that ain’t broke, the product will remain as is. By backing down in the face of a new Whiskey Rebellion, the brand’s caretakers scuttled plans for a new trendy cocktail, Maker’s and New Coke, the buzz nobody would want.

And now for the news that induces us to imbibe. First up is The Sequester, or the federal government’s equivalent of death by a thousand cuts. For those whose eyes glaze over every time the subject comes up, here’s a concise explanation of how our lives will slowly become a living hell without action by that herd of cats known as the United States Congress

If your hair isn’t already hurting, this was the first of three weeks of budget hearings in Harrisburg. Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said that the $2.8 billion in increased pension costs coming over the next four years would require a 24 percent increase in the personal income tax, and there just aren’t many places left to cut the General Fund budget. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Whiskey Rebellion Edition" »


After Sandusky: Improving PA’s Child Protection Efforts

Joan bensoThe child sex abuse scandal that rocked the commonwealth put a renewed focus on how Pennsylvania protects its children and what more can be done to ensure our kids are safe. One result was the creation of a statewide Task Force on Child Protection, which issued a detailed report last November that made several recommendations on how Pennsylvania can better protect its 2.7 million children.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a statewide non-profit children’s advocacy organization, has long been involved in efforts to improve the child welfare system, so it’s hardly surprising to see them playing a role in making the task force’s recommendations a reality. PPC President and CEO Joan Benso testified before the task force, she and her staff provided technical assistance to many of its members, and PPC is now working to ensure critical task force recommendations become law.

Continue reading "After Sandusky: Improving PA’s Child Protection Efforts" »


Joan Benso of PPC Discusses the 2013-14 Governor's Budget

Joan bensoJoan Benso, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, made her way up one flight of stairs to talk to us about her views of Governor Corbett’s 2013-14 Executive Budget (PPC and Triad both reside at 116 Pine Street in Harrisburg).

According to Joan, PPC was certainly pleased to see an increase in funding for K-12 education, though they would like to see the General Assembly address the formula by which those funds will be distributed.  In addition Joan touched on the Governor’s proposal to expand outreach for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as concerns around Medicaid Expansion.

You can catch her comments in this short video.

 

You can learn more about the Governor’s 2013-14 Executive Budget  by visiting Triad Strategies 2013-14 Budget Page, or listen and watch what other lawmakers, advocates, and influencers think about this years’ budget proposals.

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


Representative Turzai to Introduce Liquor Store Privatization Bill, HB 790 on March 4th

RepTurzaiLiquorstoreprivatizationRepresentative Turzai, is circulating a co-sponsorhip memorandum for his liquor privatization legislation, House Bill 790.  To be introduced on March 4, 2013, HB 790 would issue liquor licenses that would grant the following privileges to the holder:

  • Grocery stores, for an initial license fee and annual renewal fee of $25,000, will gain the ability to sell two 6-packs of beer and up to six bottles of wine for consumption off of the licensed premises.
  • Grocery stores with gross annual sales in excess of $2 million shall have an initial licensing fee and annual renewal fee of $30,000.
  • Convenience stores, for an initial license fee and annual renewal fee of $10,000, will gain the ability to sell one 6-pack of beer for consumption off of the licensed premises.
  • Big-box retail stores, for an initial license fee and annual renewal fee of $35,000, will gain the ability to sell beer by the case and up to six bottles of wine for consumption off of the licensed premises.
  • Pharmacies, for an initial license fee and annual renewal fee of $17,500, will gain the ability to sell two 6-packs of beer and up to six bottles of wine for consumption off of the licensed premises.
  • Beer Distributors,  will have the opportunity, for an initial licensing fee of $150,000 and an annual renewal fee of $10,000, to sell unlimited quantities of wine for consumption off of the licensed premises; and, for the ability to “break the case” of beer and sell down to a minimum of 42 ounces.

Matt Brouillette, President & CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation discussed liquor store privatization when he stopped by our offices this week, and hopes that the Governor’s proposal “will be the last call for government sold alcohol.”

 

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


The Commonwealth Foundation’s View of the 2013-14 Governor's Budget

Commonwealth FoundationIf you pay attention to policy discussions in Harrisburg, they we are sure you have seen Matt Brouillette on your television screen a few times.  President & CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, Matt has sat down with us on a number of occasions to share his thoughts on budgets and policies.  He stopped by our offices yesterday and provided us with the Commonwealth Foundation’s views on the 2013-14 Commonwealth Budget, pension reform, state liquor store privatization, transportation funding, privatization of the lottery, and Medicaid expansion.

In this clip, Matt discusses Governor Corbett’s 2013-14 Executive Budget, and the Governor’s decision to not expand Medicaid.

 

You can learn more about the Governor’s 2013-14 Executive Budget  by visiting Triad Strategies 2013-14 Budget Page, or listen and watch what other lawmakers, advocates, and influencers think about this years’ budget proposals.

 

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


Senator Leach Talks Liquor Store Privatization and Pension Reform

LiguorstoreprivatizationpensionreformTwo issues on the mind of Senator Leach last week (yes we are combining parts 4 & 5) were state liquor store privatization and pension reform, both of which have significant implications for the 2013-14 Commonwealth budget.   The Governor has proposed to privatize the liquor system in Pennsylvania and is committing $1 billion in proceeds to education funding. The $1 billion would be earmarked for his Passport for Learning Block Grant over four years, which will provide flexibility to schools, allowing them to decide what their students need in the areas of school safety, enhanced early education programs, individualized learning and science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and programs.  On the pension reform front, the Governor’s Budget Office has calculated that pension costs will consume approximately 60 percent of all new revenues in the 2013-14 fiscal year, translating to more than $500 million that could be spent on core programs and services.

Continue reading "Senator Leach Talks Liquor Store Privatization and Pension Reform" »


Senator Daylin Leach’s View of the 2013-14 Governor's Budget

Senator Leach Budget Still (2)For those of you who know Senator Daylin Leach, you know that he is not a man of few words.  Consequently, we bring you the third part, of a (hold your breath), six part series of conversations we had with the lawmaker from Montgomery County.  In this interview, Senator Leach provides us with his views of Governor Corbett’s 2013-14 Executive Budget.

Senator Leach applauds Governor Corbett for his efforts on correctional reform, and working with the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the Justice Reinvestment Act and alternatives to prison which will save the Commonwealth significant dollars in this budget.

Regarding the remainder of the budget, Senator Leach had a much more negative view.  You can hear his thoughts regarding the Governor’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, the level funding of higher education, transportation funding, and support for Pennsylvania’s neediest citizens, by tuning in to the Triad Strategies Network and watching this video.

 

You can learn more about the Governor’s 2013-14 Executive Budget  by visiting Triad Strategies 2013-14 Budget Page, or listen and watch what other lawmakers, advocates, and influencers think about this years’ budget proposals.

 

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


The Electoral College vs. Popular Vote Debate in PA.

ElectoralcollegevspopularvoteWhen State Senator Daylin Leach stopped by Triad Strategies last week he touched on the topic of Electoral College reform in Pennsylvania, and discussed various proposals that, if they had been in effect, would have altered the 2012 Electoral College map.  

Senator Leach examines the pros and cons of Electoral College reform and exams the differences between the current Electoral College vs. Popular Vote plan that has been introduced across the country. The Senator views both Electoral College bills advanced by House and Senate Republicans as attempts to alter the Electoral College map and views them as part of a recipe for rigging elections.

Senator Leach concludes by affirming that he supports the National Popular Vote, in which the presidential candidate who gets the most votes would win the election.

 

For more information about Senator Leach, you can find him on Facebook - Twitter or his website.

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


Friday Happy Hour: Close-But-No-Cigar Edition

KA-BOOMThat big KA-BOOM you just heard was a mortar shell, launched by Attorney General Kathleen Kane, landing squarely on Governor Corbett’s policy agenda, blowing his lottery privatization initiative to smithereens (regular readers might suspect we’re foreshadowing the music video here; they would be correct).

And on St. Valentine’s Day, no less. Kane said the proposed agreement with Camelot Global Services, the British firm that, in the end, was the sole private bidder to run the Pennsylvania Lottery, doesn’t comply with the state constitution, lottery statutes or case law, and would usurp the authority of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. She stopped short of criticizing the grammar and punctuation.

Corbett said he was “deeply disappointed,” and administration officials said their options include rewriting the contract to meet the attorney general’s objections or appealing the decision to Commonwealth Court. Those who were opposed to lottery privatization all along – mostly D’s, a few R’s, and 64 percent of registered voters, according to a fresh Franklin & Marshall College poll – suggested a third option: forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Close-But-No-Cigar Edition" »


Conversation with State Senator Daylin Leach on Legalizing Marijuana

Conversation with State Senator Daylin Leach on Legalizing MarijuanaSenator Daylin Leach stopped by Triad’s offices yesterday to discuss a broad range of issues affecting Pennsylvania businesses and citizens.  As you would expect from the Senator, he did not hold back his thoughts and remarks, and provided his usual frank discussion on how he views issues confronting the Commonwealth.

On Monday, the Senator held a press conference regarding his introduction of legislation which would legalize marijuana.  If you missed the press conference, you can catch a video of it here, or if reading is more your style, here is a link to the press release.  For those of you who might enjoy three minutes of the Senator unedited, you can catch his conversation with us below.

 

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


Dave Patti, President & CEO of the PA Business Council, Discusses the 2013-14 State Budget

Patti Blog PictureDave Patti, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council sat down with Triad’s Tony May to discuss his views on Governor Corbett’s 2013-14 Executive Budget.  As you might expect, the Business Council is happy to see that this is the third straight budget introduced by Governor Corbett that does not include a tax increase.  In addition, the Business Council was happy to see increases in funding for mental health and K-12 education, as well as keeping funding flat for higher education.

On the tax front, the continued elimination of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax was welcomed.   Also the uncapping limits on the deductions on net operating losses will help Pennsylvania business to compete more effectively.  The Business Council supports the uncapping of the Oil Franchise Tax in order to support investments in the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure.

 

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


Top Veterinary School Thanks Governor Corbett for Maintaining Funding, Investing in Animal Health and Agriculture

Governor Corbett Visiting University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary MedicineKennett Square – Governor Tom Corbett, joined by leaders of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, announced today that the proposed 2013-14 budget will maintain funding for the school’s nationally renowned veterinary education and research.

The proposed budget will provide level funding for the state’s only veterinary institution, including $27.8 million for veterinary activities and $248,000 to the Center for Infectious Diseases.

“This budget will provide Penn Vet with the resources needed to continue as a national leader in veterinary education and research,” Corbett said during a tour of the university’s rural campus in Chester County.

Continue reading "Top Veterinary School Thanks Governor Corbett for Maintaining Funding, Investing in Animal Health and Agriculture" »


Mental health advocates say Governor’s budget for 2013-14 does little to address needs of community-based services

Mental Health AdvocatesLynn Keltz, executive director of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers Association, and Rebecca May-Coles, executive director of the Pennsylvania Behavioral Health and Aging Commission, report that Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed Pennsylvania General Fund budget for 2013-14 doesn’t meet claims that it is a victory for community-based health and human services.  Most of the new dollars, the human services advocates say, covers increased state costs and that very few dollars filter down to the community level.  Community service providers, they note, sustains a 10 percent cut in funding last year in the face of increased consumer demand.

 

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


Friday Happy Hour: Cabbages & Kings Edition

The Walrus & the Carpenter“The time has come," the Walrus said, “to talk of many things: Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax; of cabbages and kings…”

The opening of Lewis Carroll’s poem, the Walrus and the Carpenter, inspires this week’s theme. In the wake of Governor Corbett’s budget address, it’s appropriate to begin with the cabbage (aka “money”) contained in his proposed fiscal plan. We’ll get to the kings a bit later.

The governor proposed a 2013-14 budget of $28.4 billion. It’s a 2.4 percent increase compared with the current budget and features increased revenue for basic education, but relies on privatizing liquor distribution and reforming public pensions. For additional insight, check out Triad’s own analysis at http://triadstrategies.typepad.com/triadvocate/2013/02/corbett-rolls-out-budget-with-something-for-everyone-well-almost-everyone.html

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Cabbages & Kings Edition" »


Bucks Republican talks about Governor’s budget, human services and Medicaid funding

Gene DiGirolamoState Rep. Gene DiGirolamo of Bucks County, Chairman of the House Human Services Committee expresses concern that Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2013-14 proposed budget increases funding for health and human services, it still does not fully restore a 10 percent cut in funding imposed this fiscal year.

DiGirolamo also expresses hope that, while the clock is winding down on the state’s window of opportunity to tap as much as $4 billion in federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage for working families, the governor will get satisfactory answers from the federal government on controlling downstream funding of the program.  The human services chairman notes that expanding Medicaid can help bring down the rising cost of health care for all by covering the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers.

 

The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh


Corbett rolls out budget with something for everyone – well, almost everyone

Governor Corbett 2013-14 Commonwealth Budget

Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a $28.4 billion state General Fund budget for 2013-14 today (Tuesday).  Reactions tend to fall into two distinct categories:

  1. The Governor masterfully identified and addressed all of the state’s biggest concerns and proposed realistic solutions that can be implemented without increasing any General Fund taxes.
  2. The Governor masterfully addressed MOST of the state’s biggest concerns and proposed solutions that fail to deliver.

Continue reading "Corbett rolls out budget with something for everyone – well, almost everyone" »


PENN VET DEAN CALLS GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ALLOCATION A ‘VOTE OF CONFIDENCE’

Release date: Feb. 5, 2013

PENN VET DEAN CALLS GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ALLOCATION A ‘VOTE OF CONFIDENCE’ 

          Dr. Joan Hendricks, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, today (Feb. 5) released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget address:

Governor Tom Corbett has proposed a state General Fund Budget for the 2013-14 Fiscal Year which would maintain vital Commonwealth support for the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Given the many other demands placed on the state budget, we at Penn Vet consider this $ 28.1 million proposed appropriation as a tremendous vote of confidence in our critical role in education, research, and agriculture.

 As the only veterinary school in the Commonwealth, Penn Vet educates most of the licensed veterinarians who work in the state. A total of 1,902 Penn Vet alumni are at work in the Commonwealth, treating pets, farm animals and racehorses, inspecting food for bacteria, securing and preserving wildlife habitat and tracking harmful diseases affecting both animals and humans.

Continue reading "PENN VET DEAN CALLS GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ALLOCATION A ‘VOTE OF CONFIDENCE’ " »


Have we heard the last of the UC call center problems?

UC Call CenterLast week the Senate and House Labor and Industry Committees held a joint public hearing to address the ongoing problems at the state’s Unemployment Compensation Call Centers.  Last summer, the Department of Labor and Industry closed the Philadelphia UC Call Center and furloughed the 56 employees working there. When call volumes started to increase this fall, many customers were met by busy signals and unable to get through to an interviewer.  The hearing allowed Senate and House members the opportunity to have Secretary Harthway address their concerns and answer their questions.

Continue reading "Have we heard the last of the UC call center problems?" »


Friday Happy Hour: Bass-O-Matic Edition

Bass-O-MaticIf you’re not a policy dork like us, you might as well just stop reading now, because as we approach the eve of the governor’s annual budget address, our heart goes pitty-pat over the opportunity to trudge into the weeds and figure out what might or might not come out of Governor Corbett’s mouth next Tuesday and what that portends for the ol’ commonwealth.

There have been juicy little hints all week. Apparently, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa was not sworn to secrecy when he was briefed on Corbett’s transportation funding proposal, because he spilled the beans to the Post-Gazette’s Jon Schmitz, who reported the plan would generate $1.9 billion annually in additional revenue, about enough to cover half of the funding gap.

Then there’s the happy news that basic education could get a boost this year, and that higher education would remain level, but there’s a caveat: unless the General Assembly fails to enact pension reform. In that case, all kinds of bad things could happen.

Frankly, the prospects for pension reform ain’t necessarily looking that good. Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati said that Corbett’s pension solutions, which include reducing future pension benefits for current employees, will face a tough road in the legislature.

Daily News columnist John Baer took it a step further, suggesting that the aforementioned “tough road” may be impassable.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Bass-O-Matic Edition" »