Week in Review

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Weekly political news straight from the halls of power in Harrisburg. This is the Pennsylvania Independent weekly newsletter. Read these stories and more at WWW.PAIndependent.com

Report Shows Pension Crisis Runs Deep At Municipal Level
Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Scranton and others "severely distressed"


A recent report on the status of municipal pension plans in Pennsylvania found nearly half of all active local government employees are enrolled in a "severely distressed" plan, thanks to three of the commonwealth’s major cities.

The report, compiled by the state’s Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC), identified 27 municipalities as falling into the "severely distressed" category, meaning the plans are funded at less than 50 percent of liabilities. Included in the group are the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton, which alone account for 45 percent of all local government employees in the state.

Citizens Defeat Property Tax Increase In Westmoreland County
State education cuts forcing difficult decisions in many school districts


Citizens in Westmoreland County successfully fought off a proposed tax increase Thursday, winning a battle likely to be repeated across the state in the coming months.

A group of more than 50 angry citizens packed the Southmoreland School District’s school board hearing and convinced the board to remove proposed tax increases from the district’s preliminary budget, according to sources who attended the meeting. The school board was planning to apply for exceptions allowing them to exceed the state’s cap on annual property tax increases.

Report Shows Pennsylvania Spent Over $200 Million on College Dropouts
PHEAA argues money was used for education and so served its purpose


A report from the American Institute for Research (AIR), a behavioral and social science research organization, found Pennsylvania spent $232.9 million between 2003 and 2008 on students who did not continue after one year of college, with $198.4 million spent on public institutions alone.

The study defined college dropouts as "students at four-year colleges and universities who left school before their sophomore year during a five-year period" and found only 60 percent of students graduate from four-year colleges and universities within six years.

Rafferty to Reintroduce Stalled Green Buildings Mandate
Would require government buildings to meet LEED certifications


State Sen. John Rafferty (R – Montgomery) is planning to reintroduce last session’s S.B. 728 which would mandate green building standards for government buildings.

The legislation would require all government buildings to design to "green buildings" standards, though whether that will include all levels of government or just state government buildings is yet to be determined, said Sean Moll, legislative assistant for Mr. Rafferty.

All Stories:

Grand Jury Probing Former Sen. Mellow | February 17, 2011
Report Shows Pension Crisis Runs Deep At Municipal Level | February 17, 2011
Possible School Choice Amendment Would Eliminate Statewide Vouchers | February 16, 2011
Corbett’s Education Secretary Says Reform Is Urgent | February 16, 2011
Rafferty to Reintroduce Stalled Green Buildings Mandate | February 16, 2011
Senate Judiciary Considers Preventative Spending Over Prison Costs | February 15, 2011
Gaming Control Board Fears Personal Liability | February 15, 2011
Corbett: Philly Abortion Scandal Not A Pro-Life Or Pro-Choice Issue | February 15, 2011
Gambling Bills Pass House Easily | February 15, 2011
Synthetic Drugs Could Be Added To Banned Substances List | February 15, 2011
Scarnati Will Reimburse Gas Company For Super Bowl Trip | February 14, 2011
Contradictions, Confusion At Senate Liquor Hearings | February 14, 2011
Citizens Defeat Property Tax Increase In Westmoreland County | February 11, 2011
Proposal Would Change Property Tax System | February 11, 2011
Republicans Split Over Gaming Control Board Legislation | February 11, 2011
Report Shows Pennsylvania Spent Over $200 Million on College Dropouts | February 11, 2011

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