Monday, August 13, 2007

PA News Summary--Under the radar..raising cigarette taxes

Under the radar...the U. S. Congress is moving to increase the taxes on
cigarettes by a substantial amount...the Senate version calls for a 61-cent
increase per pack while the House wants to raise the Federal tax by
45-cents...some fear the tax will kill sales thereby doing big damage to
social and health care programs (and some government bonds) supported by
cigarette tax revenues...a conference committee will figure it out before
September 30th...this is the ultimate love-hate relationship...

James E. "Jim" Nevels announced on Friday that he will resign after five
years as Chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission shortly after
the new school year opens...Nevels is bowing out after the fifth straight
year of higher reading and math test scores in the state's largest school
district...his resignation will allow a new Chairperson to address the task
of finding a new CEO for the Philadelphia Schools...Nevels - the leader of
the highly successful investment and financial advisory firm The Swarthmore
Group - will devote full time to that organization....the District's Chief
Executive Officer Paul Vallas - who ran the school district on a day to day
basis - resigned in June to take over a New Orleans School District...Vallas
earlier had announced a $73-million deficit in the school district's
budget...the Philadelphia Inquirer reports Governor Ed Rendell wants more
influence on the Commission and the Administration has touted State Budget
Secretary Michael Masch as a replacement for Nevels...Rendell controls three
appointments to the five-Member Commission...

Pennsylvania U. S. Senator Bob Casey has been in Iraq the last two days and
he says the troops "have won the war" but the political leadership in Iraq
needs to "have progress such that it matches or has a corresponding
intensity that our troops have displayed on the battlefield"...

State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati has introduced legislation
to prohibit illegal aliens living in Pennsylvania from receiving public
benefits such as Medicaid, welfare and in-state college tuition...Scarnati
says there are more than 100,000 illegals living in Pennsylvania...Senate
Bill 9 with 24 co-sponsors would require anyone receiving public benefits in
the state to provide identification proving they are legal residents and
sign an affidavit stating they are a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully
residing in the country...

The Scarnati legislation may see action in mid-September when the
Legislature returns to Session just about the same time as the federal
government reportedly will begin "tougher" enforcement practices against
businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants...

State Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow says he is "focusing on" a run for
Governor in 2010 to succeed Governor Ed Rendell and has formed an
exploratory committee...Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Lehigh
County Executive Don Cunningham and State Auditor General Jack Wagner are
probable opponents for the Democratic nomination...

Pat Toomey - former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman and currently
President of the Club for Growth - has been named to the Board of Directors
of The Commonwealth Foundation...Toomey also had owned businesses in
Pennsylvania and had been and investment banker in NYC for seven years...he
is a Harvard alum...

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