HARRISBURG – With less than one week until the June 30 budget deadline, legislative leaders should resist the temptation to “get it done” at the expense of getting it right for Pennsylvania families. The latest budget negotiations center on a potential $31.5 billion spending plan, which would represent the largest spending increase in a decade and require $1.1 billion in additional revenue. The House has already moved to raise $200 million through gambling expansion and $150 million through tax amnesty. And while broad-based tax increases appear to be off the table, lawmakers are considering targeted taxes and other unstable revenue generators, including a tobacco tax, a rumored energy tax, higher taxes on bank savings accounts, and a new tax on Uber and other ridesharing services. Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation said a $31.5 billion budget would represent a spending increase of more than five times the rate of inflation and a $1.5 billion increase over the current year’s spending. He also mentioned that last year, Gov. Wolf claimed we had a $2.3 billion deficit that would require $4.6 billion in new taxes. He said that unless lawmakers raised taxes, Pennsylvania would have to cut a billion dollars from education. Yet, lawmakers increased education spending by $250 million without raising taxes by one penny. Brouillette says lawmakers must not settle for just getting the budget done—they should ensure it gets done right.
HARRISBURG – There’s concern about proposed legislation that would force all businesses, churches, schools to open their gender identified bathrooms, changing areas, showers, and locker rooms to members of the opposite sex. Businesses like Target and Hersheypark now allow such actions. PA Family Institute President Michael Geer says businesses like Target and Hersheypark now allow such actions. Geer is encouraging concerned citizens and families to take a stand against such legislation by attending an upcoming “Defend My Privacy Rally” planned at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg on Monday from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Buses from Lancaster, Reading, and across the state will be going to the rally. For more information, go to www.pafamily.org or call 1-800-FAMILY-1. Michael Geer will be our guest on this Saturday afternoon’s Spotlight at 12:30 on WDAC and at 2 p.m. on WBYN-FM 107.5. You can listen to the program online right now at wdac.com under “WDAC Podcasts.”
HARRISBURG – Legislative efforts to combat Pennsylvania’s growing problem with heroin and opioid addiction was the topic of discussion at a press conference held in the State Capitol. State House leaders, joined by the Governor and other lawmakers, announced completion of the recommendations set forth by the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation, and outlined plans to move the issue forward by initiating a special legislative session to tackle the problems associated with prescription drug abuse. Opioid overdoses and deaths cut across all age groups, economic sectors, and racial demographics. The abuse of this class of drugs cost thousands of lives and costs the state over $12.2 million in hospitalization costs annually, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 1077 into law that will save money for schools. Act 56 of 2016 eliminates the mandate that school districts annually inform parents by physical mailing when the district uses audio and video recording to identify and address discipline issues on school buses. Beaver County Sen. Elder Vogel sponsored the measure that will save school district dollars. The new law gives districts the option to provide notice of the policy through school handbooks or on the district’s website.
HARRISBURG – The PA House unanimously approved legislation that would ensure all state corrections officers are equipped with oleoresin capsicum, better known as O.C. or pepper spray, to deter prison assaults. Supporters say the small, aerosol canisters are relatively inexpensive and should be an integral, non-lethal tool available to those who frequently face very perilous situations. A dangerous encounter with an inmate can be defused in as little as 20 seconds by deploying the spray. House Bill 2084 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
ADAMSTOWN (AP) – A 91-year-old Lancaster County man who has for years lectured to school groups and others about what he said were his experiences at Auschwitz now says he was never a prisoner at the concentration camp. Joseph Hirt made the admission in a letter to Lancaster Newspapers and apologized. He said he used poor judgment and faulty reasoning in trying to tell the story of those affected by the Nazis. The Adamstown man’s admission comes weeks after his story was questioned by history teacher Andrew Reid in Turin, New York. Reid attended an April presentation by Hirt in upstate New York with several students. He concluded that many of the speaker’s claims didn’t add up. Reid says Hirt called him and apologized earlier this month.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Budget makers are considering reinstating a gross receipts tax on natural gas sales in Pennsylvania. Senators said the idea is one of several that have been brought up in budget negotiations with Gov. Tom Wolf. The state ended the tax in 2000. Democrats say it would raise in excess of $500 million a year. But Senate Republicans still aim to assemble a spending plan that doesn’t require a tax increase. Negotiators are reporting no agreements on key budget elements with six days until the state’s fiscal-year deadline.
MANHEIM TOWNSHIP – Police in Lancaster County are seeking two men who robbed Members 1st Credit Union at 2568 Lititz Pike in Manheim Township. Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, two suspects entered and demanded money. They fled north on Sutton Place. One suspect is described as an Hispanic male, wearing a camouflage ball cap with the white letters S.W.Y.P., light & dark horizontally striped shirt and light colored shorts, holding a blue cloth-like object over his face. The other is a black male possibly in his late 20s, early 30s wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, hood pulled over his head, black sunglasses, tan khaki pants, light shoes, carrying a Save-A-Lot grocery bag. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Manheim Township Police at 717-569-6401.
CORNWALL – A head on crash in Lebanon County claimed two lives. It happened around 12:45 p.m. Thursday on Route 322, about a mile east of Route 72. 17-year-old Danielle Beard of Sinking Spring was westbound when her car entered the eastbound lane colliding with a pickup driven by 48-year-old Bryan Eberly of Ephrata. Beard died at the scene. Eberly later died at Hershey Medical Center. The investigation continues.
SALISBURY TOWNSHIP – A Lancaster County farm was the scene of a chicken house fire. Crews responded around 8 a.m. Thursday to the 300 block of Millwood Road in Salisbury Township. Over 15,000 chickens were inside. No injuries were reported. A cause is under investigation. The farm had suffered damage from a tornado in February.