Thursday, January 28, 2016

Joe Bard speaks at Representatives Thompson gathering



Joe and I are in State College to hear Representative Glenn Thompson

ESSA continued

Facts about congressman Thompson

Start of session

Glenn Thompson addresses the group regarding the transition to ESSA


Getting 5 to agree??????

Resumption of five-party budget negotiations leaves little insight as to way forward

Author: Jason Gottesman/Wednesday, January 27, 2016/Categories: News and Views

Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders from the four legislative caucuses gathered in the governor’s office Wednesday for what seems to be a rarity these days: five-party budget negotiations.

The goal of the meeting was reportedly to find a way forward on how to finish the FY 2015-2016 budget.

While some may see it as a positive advance that the parties are sitting down together at all, Wednesday’s meeting left little in terms of real progress in finding a path forward on finishing the current fiscal year’s spending plan with both sides still at odds over what a final spend number should look like.

“I think we amplified our desire to finish the 15-16 budget, the last 13 percent, and then we can move on to fighting a lot of these battles in the next year ahead, but let’s get the final money out to the schools and the prisons and the nursing homes and we can move forward with all the other items that folks want to have on the table,” said House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana).

The way forward, according to Rep. Reed and the House Republican caucus seems to having a final year spend plan that is around the $30.2 billion number that Gov. Wolf partially vetoed back in late December.

“I understand that’s not ideal from the governor’s perspective, but we’ll hold pension reform and liquor reform and make that part of next year’s discussion as well, but let’s just finish up this last ten percent of the budget and we’ll move on to other issues,” he said.

Legislative Democratic leadership expressed concern about moving forward in that direction, particularly given an recent report by the Independent Fiscal Office stating the Commonwealth will have a nearly $460 million deficit in the current fiscal year at those spending levels and an over $2 billion deficit for FY 2016-2017.

“The people of Pennsylvania can’t sit by and ignore that we have this structural problem, otherwise we are looking at devastating cuts going forward in the areas most important to people: education, human services, and economic development,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). “Somehow revenue has to be part of the equation, that’s a fact, I’m not making it up. These numbers tell that story.”

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) said his caucus—and what he said was the sentiment expressed by the governor— is for a budget that adequately funds education and takes care of human services.

“Our preference is, and what I think is best for the people of Pennsylvania, public education, human services, and a deficit we have to face this year and next year, the $30.8 billion is where we ought to be on a spend number and I don’t know whether that’s achievable or not,” he said.

He said going forward, Appropriations Committee staff will be running numbers, looking at the various proposals and potential adjustments to see what can be done to get Pennsylvania to the next fiscal year.

Referencing the IFO report, he said “there’s not $2.7 billion worth of cuts in this budget.”

“We’ve got to raise revenues to solve this issue,” he said.

With the governor’s budget address slated for February 9th, both chambers of the General Assembly have recessed until February 8th.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Today we had a great meeting with several superintendents around the Forest Area Shool District. A special thank you to Amanda for setting up the meeting. We discussed budget, issues for superintendents and a myriad of many other things. Very successful day ! This meeting concluded my tour of school districts in the western part of the state.

Meeting Dean Maynard NW Tri County IU

My final visit for the day

Great meeting with David. This guy is so proud of his district and he should be. Next stop is Forest Area at a BB to rest for the evening. Two meetings tomorrow then back home to Lebanon. This is been a rewarding and wonderful experience.

Forest Area Schools

I just had a wonderful two hour meeting with Amanda Hetrick and her administration. Amanda is a true instructional leader for having the vision to have us all together for a round table of instructional talks. This administration is very proud of their accomplishments and successes. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My journey

My place for the evening. KellyGreen Bed and Breakfast in Tionesta, Pa.... Absolutely adorable . My visit tomorrow is with Amanda Hetrick and her administrators. Following the meeting I will be meeting with superintendents from the surrounding area . More information to come regarding my three-day journey.

Meeting Dean Maynard NW Tri County IU

Iroquois meeting

Shane Murray was kind enough to meet me in Edinboro. We had a wonderful visit and discussion related to fair and equatable funding. Did you know Shane has been to 9 PARSS Conferences!!!

Iroquois meeting

Shane Murray was kind enough to meet me in Edinboro. We had a wonderful visit and discussion related to fair and equatable funding. Did you know Shane has been to 9 PARSS Conferences!!!

Greenville visit

I was fortunate to meet with Mark Ferrara, Greenville Supt, Tracy Reiser Supt. Of Jamestown and Kim Zippie of Comadore Perry. We met for over 2.5 hours. We discussed many issues such as budget, funding, initiatives of PDE. We all agreed it was a very beneficial meeting. The meeting was shortened due to a crisis at the school. I hope all are safe and well.

Welcome to Greenville

Fair funding

And so says Andy Dinniman!!!

I know what you are thinking: deadlines didn't work then and they won't work now. That's why my legislation will also require the legislature to remain in continuous session, meeting every day without leave, without pay, without reimbursements, and without per diems, if a complete budget is not passed and signed by July 1. The same goes for the governor, his senior staff and cabinet members. That doesn't mean salary, reimbursements and per diems will be temporarily suspended and paid out after a budget plan is passed, as is currently the case. It means they'll be forfeited. It means when the legislature and the governor don't do their job and don't meet their constitutional obligations, they get nothing.


In addition, any meetings between legislative leaders and the governor after June 30 must be open to the public. The practice of playing out the budget in "he-said, she-said" leaks to the press is certainly unproductive. It has only served to further partisan gridlock and finger-pointing. If you are going to negotiate with the peoples' money and the peoples' business, do it in front of the people.

Furthermore, Pennsylvania ought to move toward biennial budgets, as is done in almost 20 other states, to reduce the uncertainty of the yearly budget process and allow more planning and financial stability for our schools and human service agencies. 

Finally, let me be clear that all sides are to blame for the budget impasse. While the aforementioned changes will no doubt be beneficial, the hardest part will be changing the culture of Harrisburg.

Dragging on a budget process to (or past) the 11th hour does not mean the legislature is working hard. It means lawmakers are falling short. We may not be able to force all involved to agree, but we can create real consequences that will shake up the status quo and give the citizens budgets on time.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman is a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania's 19th Senatorial District in parts of Chester County.

What voters want!!!!

Reprise June 2015: Pennsylvania voters want action on education funding, property taxes

Perspective !!!!


"Madonna called education funding an issue four years in the making.  Coming out of the recession, most of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts saw budget cuts, property tax hikes or both, he said.  You can debate whether that was the fault of Wolf’s predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, or an inevitable consequence of the end of the federal stimulus, but “the fact remains that that’s the single most important issue that voters want to see addressed,” he said."

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Rural Life

There is something to say about  rural America. Having attended a small college in West Virginia,I have really learned to appreciate folks who live in small and rural communities. Each time I visit a rural area, I seek restaurants and establishments that are more or less a throwback in time. Tonight
I had dinner at the Paxton's restaurant in Greenville, PA. The food was home cooked and very good,  most importantly the conversation with the owner and her employees was priceless. Hard-working individuals, down-to-earth people, and individuals who like to share their pride of the community in which they live. What a wonderful evening and if you ever drive through Greenville, PA please stop at the Paxton's restaurant. Oh by the way, they're open 24 hours a day. I am convinced that the uniqueness of rural communities is the result of strong family ties and outstanding schools. Rural Schools can stand strong and should be supported in a myriad of ways to continue their successes.

Trip to Greenville Pa

As I approached my final destination some 280 miles later, I reached out to the superintendent of Mercer and the Reynolds school district. I invited them to become a member of the PARSS Association. They were both very appreciative of the invite and perhaps will consider the invitation for the following school year.

Visiting the western part of the state

Due to the epic snowstorm my plans for going to the western part of the state have changed a bit. I am leaving at 10 AM to make my journey out the turnpike. My first visit is tomorrow morning with the Greenville School district. I am looking forward to meeting many superintendents in the westernpart of the state. Stay tuned for more updates.

Friday, January 22, 2016

North Schuylkill SD

My visit to North Schuylkill concludes my five visits of school districts this week. I must say as I meet the new superintendent's they are getting younger and younger looking all the time. Their age also represents how young they are. It was a pleasure to meet Robert Ackell .  He is in his second year as a superintendent. I look forward to having more conversations with all the superintendents that I met this week. Next week I'll be traveling out to the Pittsburgh, Erie, and Altoona Area.