“There is significant interest in the General Assembly, the Corbett Administration, school board members and the general public to establish a formula to provide a predictable source for the distribution of those dollars.”
Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Co-Chairman of the Basic Education Funding Commission, tasked with developing a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education.
Senate Kicks Off Fall Session
The Senate begins its fall session today at 1 p.m. The chamber expects to tackle several issues before the end of the 2013-14 legislative session.
Action is expected on the Philadelphia cigarette tax, which will provide additional funding to the Philadelphia School District. Other bills expected to be considered in coming weeks include:
- Senate Bill 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), to legalize medical cannabis with a physician’s prescription.
- Senate Bill 444, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), amending the Open Records Law to greatly expand the information required from state-related universities, address the issue of inmate requests, and more.
- House Bill 1773, revising Act 47, distressed municipalities.
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 1193, sponsored by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), permitting school employees to use firearms for safety. (Tues., 9:45 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)
Judiciary, Transportation Committees Explore Tools to Reduce DUI Fatalities
Strengthening state laws to reduce DUI fatalities was the topic of a September 8 joint hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), and the Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery).
The panel heard from law enforcement, federal officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as well as poignant testimony from family members of DUI victims.
Richard Simon of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testified that while combatting impaired driving is a NHTSA priority, solutions remain largely at the state and local levels. Ignition interlock systems are widely successful in reducing DUI recidivism, he testified.
Hearing Video & Written Testimony
Joint Hearing Focuses on Aging Issues Facing Pennsylvania
Plans to address the projected growth in the state’s senior citizen population were part of a joint public hearing of the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee and the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny).
The August 28 hearing at the University of Pittsburgh featured comprehensive testimony by Deputy Aging Secretary David Gingerich, who discussed Pennsylvania’s 2012-16 State Plan on Aging, health care initiatives such as PACE, APPRISE and the State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, and a report by the AARP comparing Pennsylvania’s senior programs with those of other states.
Basic Education Funding Commission Holds Second Public Hearing
The Basic Education Funding Commission, co-chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), held its second public hearing September 10 in the Parkland School District in Lehigh County.
Created by the General Assembly in June, the 15-member commission is tasked with developing a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania school districts. The new formula will take into account relative wealth, local tax effort, geographic price differences, enrollment levels, local support as well as other factors.
The panel heard from Marguerite Roza, Director of the Edu-nomics Lab at Georgetown University and Senior Research Affiliate at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Also testifying were area superintendents who outlined the challenges posed by the current funding formula.
Of the 50 states, Pennsylvania has the fourth-largest percentage of residents age 60 years or older. Over the next decade, the commonwealth’s population of residents age 85 years or older is expected to grow by 42 percent while the state’s total population is expected to grow by only 2 percent.
Also testifying at the joint hearing was Bonnie Rose, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Long Term Living with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, who discussed Medical Assistance programs that provide long-term care services to older Pennsylvanians and to adults with physical disabilities.
She also discussed the Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) program, which enables older Pennsylvanians to live independently while receiving services and supports to meet their needs.
Following the presentations by the representatives from the state agencies, the panel heard from testifiers who discussed other specific aging-related issues. These testifiers included representatives from AARP, Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Leading Age PA, Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging, United Way of Allegheny County, Westmoreland County United Way, Gateway Health and the Pennsylvania Health Underwriters Association.