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Petri November 2009 Newsletter




                                     178th Legislative District
                                                                                                                                 Fall 2009
Dear Neighbors,                                      believe the state must do the same by making           near future, such as substantial increases in
                                                     sure that the budget is balanced and in place          pension contribution rates. Also, the $2.6 billion
   At long last, Pennsylvania finally has a state     by June 30 each year. There is absolutely no           in federal stimulus relied upon so heavily in
budget. This budget took far too long to settle      excuse for delays, and vital services should not       the current budget will not be available. State
– going more than 100 days beyond the state-         be subject to a line-item veto in order to pressure    revenues through October were already $160.2
mandated deadline of June 30.                        the Legislature to pass a budget. Many items           million below projections for the year. Monitoring
   Typically, the process of negotiating a state     that were not in dispute, such as child care and       our state revenues and expenditures on a
budget involves research, analysis, negotiation      textbooks for non-public schools were previously       monthly basis will be important.
and compromise, and can begin as soon as the         vetoed.                                                   I will actively support new regulations to
governor gives his budget address in February.          I did not vote for the budget because it does not   avoid future budget impasses. I will also work
As a member of the Appropriations Committee,         appropriately account for the current economic         to address our state’s looming fiscal obstacles
I can tell you how difficult this year has been. We   situation. The $27.8 billion plan overspends,          before they become crises. While times are
held hearings in March and April regarding every     drains critical state reserve accounts, burdens        challenging, opportunities to help our neighbors
department. This year, the budget process could      Pennsylvanians with $500 million in new or             and our communities are more available than
not begin in earnest until June because of rapidly   increased taxes, and relies too heavily on             ever. Our success will be measured by how we,
changing economic circumstances.                     stimulus funding and one-time revenue. The             as a community, address our local challenges.
   In light of the fact that our prior fiscal year    fiscal year 2009-2010 budget puts both state               During the summer, I held six town hall meetings
ended with a $3.2 billion budget deficit, I was       government and taxpayers in a vulnerable               to discuss the budget and our communities’
determined to rein-in spending. I supported a        position because state revenues continue to            priorities. I heard from many of you during the
budget that cut spending below the previous          fall short.                                            budget process and appreciate your thoughts
year’s level yet preserved funding for essential        State reserve accounts that were depleted           and concerns. You will surely see the results of
government services. I also rejected attempts to     include the Rainy Day Fund, $755 million; the          spending cuts, and there will be pain. However,
impose major increases in the Personal Income        Health Care Provider Retention Account, $808           I am hopeful that by being careful with your
Tax (PIT) and sales tax, which I believe would       million; and the Tobacco Endowment Account,            hard-earned money, we will weather the current
have had a detrimental effect given the current      $150 million. The Rainy Day Fund was developed         economic storm and not reach deeper into your
economic climate. In my opinion, the budget that     to help keep the Commonwealth’s General Fund           pockets.
was ultimately presented for a vote spends too       budget in balance and avoid tax increases.
much money and allocates funds in ways I do not      Draining the Rainy Day Fund leaves the state
support. Therefore, I voted against it.              without a safety net going into the 2010-2011                       Scott A. Petri
   Just as many of you spend only the money          fiscal year.                                                         State Representative
available to you and budget accordingly, I              Additional budgetary dilemmas loom in the                        178th Legislative District

                             Welfare Reform Sorely Needed
   State Auditor General Jack Wagner recently           Wagner has so far uncovered more than                  One measure would empower county
released a report on fraud and inefficiencies         $600 million in losses to fraud, and earlier           assistance offices to report cases of suspected
within the Pennsylvania Department of Public         this year, 12 people, including nine DPW               fraud directly to the Office of Inspector General.
Welfare (DPW), and state Attorney General            employees, were arrested on charges they               This would give personnel, who are local and
Tom Corbett has charged DPW employees and            stole $500,000 from the Low Income Home                have direct contact with welfare recipients, the
others in multiple cases of welfare fraud.           Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which              opportunity to report applicants who provide
   Welfare spending accounts for more than           provides heating assistance to low-income              false information to receive public assistance
one-third of the entire state budget. DPW            people. Few safeguards presently exist to              benefits such as Medical Assistance, cash
is responsible for administering programs            protect the state and taxpayers from these             assistance or food stamps.
and funding for our state’s most vulnerable          abuses. I believe that significant savings may             Commonsense measures are necessary
citizens, including children, the elderly and        be achieved by closing loopholes to ensure the         to protect your tax dollars and to enable us
disabled citizens. These precious dollars            integrity of the welfare system. I support efforts     to continue to serve those who are truly in
must be guarded so that monies go to                 to verify the identity and eligibility of those who    need.
qualified recipients. Welfare fraud drains these      receive public assistance and other measures
resources.                                           to ensure that state money is going to those
                                                     for whom it is intended.

          For more information visit today!
 State Budget Took Too Long, Costs Too Much
   The $27.8 billion state budget was finally
approved and signed by the governor on Oct.
9, a full 101 days beyond the state mandated
June 30 deadline. I voted against passage
of the budget as proposed because I believe
it spends too much, taxes too much, and
leaves Pennsylvania vulnerable next year
and for the foreseeable future.
   The budget relies too heavily on federal
stimulus funding and other one-time revenue
to pay for new or expanded programs for
which there will be little or no money in future
years. Of the $27.8 billion being spent in
this budget year, $2.6 billion will come from
federal stimulus dollars. While we can be
thankful the funding was available to provide
jobs and infrastructure improvements, it
should not be used to grow government. In
fact, it would seem sensible in this economic
climate that we gradually reduce the reliance
on government funding.
   Pennsylvania revenues for the new fiscal
year are already more than $160 million
short of projections. To make matters worse,
the state budget drained critical reserve          this safety net and diverts the cigarette tax     EDUCATION
funds that will leave the state and taxpayers      directly into the state’s General Fund to help       While public libraries suffered a $15 million
vulnerable going into yet another shaky            cover the cost of state government. For           hit and the Educational Improvement Tax
budget year in 2010-11.                            the first time, this budget also dips into the     Credit (EITC) program was cut significantly
   The Rainy Day Fund was established              principal contained in the tobacco settlement     to help balance the budget, the state’s 500
as a reserve fund to help cover the cost of        fund, claiming $150 million this year and         school districts were some of the biggest
government in lean years. Thanks to some           $250 million more next year.                      winners this year. The school districts
strong economic times, the fund stood at              The Medical Care Availability of Error         will receive an additional $300 million in
$755 million, but that amount was depleted         Fund (MCARE), which replaced the Medical          education funding, spread across all districts
with this year’s budget. There will be no          Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss           statewide. The Philadelphia School District
reserves next year when revenues are               (CAT) Fund, was established in 2002               will receive $200 million more. In the 178th
projected to be flat.                               to ensure reasonable compensation for             Legislative District, the following increases
   Another fund that was drained in this           people injured due to medical negligence.         will occur in 2009-10:
year’s budget was the Health Care Providers        Pennsylvania physicians are required to
Retention Account. This account was                carry medical malpractice insurance. The          School District 2009-10 Increase
established in 2003 to retain doctors in           MCARE fund was set up to cover damage
Pennsylvania. By imposing a 25 cent tax            awards that exceed primary insurance              Centennial          $1.95M      13.5%
per pack of cigarettes, the fund raised            limits. This year’s budget claimed $100           Central Bucks       $3.5 M      15.6%
$708 million to defray the cost of medical         million from the MCARE fund. We should            Council Rock        $2.7 M      14%
malpractice insurance for Pennsylvania             not be taking money paid into the fund by
physicians, particularly those in high-risk        doctors to balance our state budget. It is my        Funding for special education, Pre-K
specialties. This year’s budget eliminates         understanding that the state’s use of the         Counts, Head Start and an elementary
                                                   funds may be legally contested by doctors         science program were held to last year’s
                                                   and hospitals. If they are successful and win     state funding levels. However, federal
                                                   their suit, the state will have a large hole in   stimulus money, which will run out after
     Traffic                                       its budget.                                       next year, provided a much-needed boost
                                                                                                     to basic and special education in this year’s
   Congestion                                      TAXES                                             budget.
                                                      I was successful in preventing hikes in           Funding for Penn State, Pitt, Temple,
 Being Addressed                                   the Personal Income Tax, and a tax on             Lincoln and other so-called non-preferred
                                                   small games of chance that would have             institutions is being held up while discussions
  My office has been working with local             had a devastating impact on volunteer fire         continue regarding the legalization of table
officials, and the Bucks County Planning            companies, fraternal organizations and            games in Pennsylvania. Disagreements
Commission to address long existing                veterans groups. This budget contains $500        center on acceptable license fees and tax
bottlenecks in Holland. We recently met            million in new taxes.                             rates for casino operators. College funding
                                                      By delaying the phase out of the Capital       needs to be resolved.
with officials in Ivyland Borough, and             Stock and Franchise tax, Pennsylvania                Other funding cut from this year’s budget
Northampton and Warminster townships to            businesses that pay the tax will pay an           includes $15 million from libraries, $21
discuss concerns at Bristol and Jacksonville       extra $374 million this year. The budget also     million from the State System of Higher
Roads. No solutions come easy, but                 imposes an additional 25 cents per pack tax       Education, $33 million from health care-
working together we can accomplish                 on cigarettes and a new tax of $1.60 per pack     related funding, $58 million in environmental
much.                                              on little cigars for an estimated $117 million    expenditures, and the Legislature’s own
                                                   in new revenue.                                   budget was slashed by $17 million.

                                                                For more inf ormation visit ww
             Action Needed to Ensure Children Are Not
              Hostage to Future Budget Negotiations
                  Department of Education refused to order books for non-public schools during budget impasse.

       In September, upon learning that Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak failed to process textbook orders for non-
    public school children until a state budget was passed, I joined with my Republican House and Senate colleagues in Bucks County in
    urging the secretary to do so.
       About 275,000 non-public school children across the Commonwealth did not have textbooks when the school year began and some
    are still waiting today.
       In a letter from the secretary, Zahorchak said the state budget impasse
    prevented him from processing the book orders. However, I believe the
    needs of our children, particularly when it comes to education, cannot be
    sacrificed while legislative leaders quibble over the details of a state budget
    that was months overdue.
       In subsequent communications, I asked the education secretary to detail
    what steps he would take to ensure that non-public school children receive
    their textbooks should the state experience another protracted budget battle
    in the future.
       Specifically, I asked,
       “What steps is the Department of Education taking to remedy this
    problem so that teachers and students attending non-public schools
    across Pennsylvania are not without textbooks for several months? We
    would like to hear your suggestions for new regulations or legislation
    to eliminate this most unfortunate circumstance.”
       Legislation that would prevent another state budget impasse, like the one
    we experienced this year, is being drafted. One proposal would continue
    the prior year’s budget into the new fiscal year should the governor and
    legislative leaders fail to agree on a new budget by June 30 -- the official
    end of the fiscal year.
       While not a perfect solution, this would have solved the problem that kept
    textbooks out of the hands of 275,000 Pennsylvania school children.

                                                                                                                  I am pleased to report
     I-80                                                                                                      that negotiations with the
                                                                                                               Pennsylvania Department

   Tolling                                                                                                     of Transportation
                                                                                                               over safety concerns
                                                                                                               along Maple Ave. in
 Issue Alive                                                                                                   Southampton Township
                                                                                                               have improved driver and
                                                                                                               pedestrian safety in the
    Again                                                                                                      area.
                                                                                                                  Maple Ave. has been
                                                                                                               repaved, the posted speed
    T h e P e n n s y l v a n i a Tu r n p i k e                                                               limit has been lowered
 Commission and the Pennsylvania                                                                               to 30 miles per hour, a
                                                                                                               four-way stop has been
 Department of Transportation                                                                                  placed at the intersection
 (PennDOT) have submitted an                                                                                   of Maple Ave. and Harding
 application to the U.S. Department                                                                            Road.
                                                                                                                  In addition, crosswalks
 of Transportation, seeking to convert                                                                         have been added at
 Interstate 80 to a toll road.                                                                                 the intersections of
    Federal approval is needed to toll                                                                         Maple Ave. and Harding
 I-80. An application filed last year was                                                                       Road, and at Maple and
                                                                                                               Hogeland Aves.
 deemed by the feds to be deficient. The                                                                           Many thanks to the
 Rendell administration has plans to                                                                           township supervisors
 use the proceeds from tolls authorized                                                                        and residents for making
                                                                                                               sure these long overdue
 under Act 44 of 2007 for highway and                                                                          improvements were
 infrastructure improvements.                                                                                  made by PennDOT.

ww.RepPetr today!
             Progress Being Made at
         Washington Crossing Historic Park
  As many of you are likely already aware, funding for PA Historic Museum Commission (PHMC) has been significantly cut for three years in a
row. This affects Washington Crossing Historic Park. Despite these cuts, the park has taken a number of steps in a positive direction.
  At the Oct. meeting of the Upper Makefield Township Board of Supervisors, the preliminary plans for the renovation and expansion of the
Washington Crossing Visitor Center were unanimously approved. The supervisors also agreed to allow the PHMC to forgo a number of local
requirements that will help cut some of the project’s soft costs; specifically, an escrow account that the state would normally be required to
set aside to ensure that the township engineers and lawyers receive their pay, has been waived. A reimbursement agreement has been put in
                                                                                          place. The township has the ability to stop construction
                                                                                          should the township engineers and solicitors not be
                                                                                          paid on time. The state will not be required to survey
                                                                                          and certify the flood plain at Washington Crossing;
                                                                                          county and federal flood maps will be relied upon
                                                                                             I am also proud to share with you that the park
                                                                                          has hosted two volunteer clean up events that were
                                                                                          extremely productive. The events took place on
                                                                                          Aug. 22 and Sept. 27, and despite bad weather,
                                                                                          both days resulted in hundreds of donated man-
                                                                                          hours. Everything from clearing downed trees and
                                                                                          brush along the river banks, trimming and clean-up
                                                                                          around the visitor center, and cleaning gutters was
                                                                                             Given the success of the two events, we are looking
                                                                                          forward to having more community cleanup days at
                                                                                          the park, probably in the spring. For the park to thrive
                                                                                          in the future, increased community involvement will be
                                                                                          necessary and I am happily looking forward to working
                                                                                          with everyone to meet that challenge.

                                  Awards & Citations
  I had the pleasure of presenting citations
on behalf of the Pennsylvania House
                                                  of the Year, Montgomery County; Michael
                                                  Smedley, recipient of a National Twin-Vision
                                                                                                      Mr. and Mrs. Robert Richmond, Mr.
of Representatives to the following               Award from the Pennsylvania Advisory              and Mrs. Robert Solly, and Mr. and Mrs.
organizations, groups and individuals             Committee for the Blind and the state Bureau      Lawrence Reynolds were honored in
in honor of their distinguished service,          of Blindness and Visual Services, and Mary        celebration of 50 years of marriage. Mr. and
exemplary actions and special recognition         Fox Donnelly, Kick Out Kidney Disease             Mrs. Walter Castro were honored for 60
since my last newsletter.                         award from National Kidney Foundation.            years of marriage.
                                                     Council Rock School District, recipient          Bethanna conference center and Bible
Service Awards & Recognition                      of the 2009 Energy Star Partner of the Year       camp celebrates its 75th anniversary.
  The following were recipients of the
2009 Burpee Emergency Services Award,             
                                                  from the U.S. Environmental Protection              Francis M. Gorski, 50 years of

                                                  Agency.                                           distinguished service to the Lingohocken
presented by the Central Bucks Chamber of                                                           Fire Co.
Commerce: Francis Gorski of Lingohocken           Eagle Scouts
Fire Co., Kathy Card of Southampton Fire            The following attained the rank of Eagle        Retirements
Co. No. 1, and Walter Boyce of Ivyland            Scout, the highest honor awarded by the             Raymond E. Breuninger, honored on his
Fire Co.
  John and Cynthia Rodgers, recipients
of the 2009 Real Heroes Award from the
American Red Cross, Lower Bucks County
Chapter; Joel Shpigel, R. Ph, recipient of
                                                  Boy Scouts of America: David Boodey,
                                                  Wrightstown; Peter Ciarlante, Newtown;
                                                  Patrick Smith, Holland; James McCarron V,
                                                  Richboro; Christopher Faust, Washington
                                                  Crossing; Sean MacGahan, Ivyland;
                                                                                                   retirement after 35 years with the Defense
                                                                                                    Contract Manag ement Agency. David C.
                                                                                                    Schultz, police chief, Upper Southampton
                                                                                                    Township on his 45 years of service to the
                                                                                                    department and the community, and Upper
the Joseph X. Yaffe-Robert Johnson Smith          Marty Leicht, Ivyland; Kevin Soboloski,           Southampton Police Lt. David R. Johnson,
Civil Rights Award from the Montgomery            Ivyland; Timothy Jun-Nung Lee, Holland;           43 years of service
County Advisory Council; Gail Olivieri,           Alexander Ryan Schaffer, Holland; Shaun

Upper Southampton Township Citizen of             Libou, Holland; David Dwyer, Richboro,            Condolences
the Year by Inter-Service Club; Dr. Karen         Ray Reinard III, Newtown, and William               John E. Long, Jr., Charlotte Moran,
Williams, honored by YWCA of Bucks                James Newman, Richboro.                           Peter F. Rice, Rose M. Shotts and Joseph
County, Women Who Make a Difference;                                                                A. Fluehr.
Lori Williams, Keystone STARS Teacher

   DISTRICT OFFICE: The Weather Vane / 95 Almshouse Road, Suite 303 / Richboro, PA 18954 / Phone: (215) 364-3414 / Fax: (215) 364-8626
 HARRISBURG OFFICE: B15 Main Capitol Building / PO Box 202178 / Harrisburg, PA 17120-2178 / Phone: (717) 787-9033 / Fax: (717) 705-1802

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