House Republican leaders cancelled a vote on a Philadelphia cigarette tax that would provide critical funding to the School District of Philadelphia, citing a lack of consensus on the proposal.
A special summer session had been slated for Monday to consider the proposal, which would have placed a $2 tax on all cigarette packs sold in Philadelphia. The tax was expected to raise as much as $45 million in revenue for the beleaguered district, which has a $93 million budget gap.
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said earlier this month that the district would have to lay off employees or consider delaying the start of the school year.
State Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, issued a statement Thursday afternoon criticizing the decision to cancel the special session. Adolph serves as the majority chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Here is Adolph’s statement in full:
“I am extremely disappointed the House will not be returning to complete the unfinished business that is necessary to give the Philadelphia School District the resources they need to educate more than 200,000 students in the Commonwealth’s largest school district.
“Ensuring our state’s largest school district opens on time is something for which we should all accept some responsibility. I am very frustrated that we could not reach agreement on the language that was added by the Senate. It is my opinion that since there was no agreement on the issues added to HB1177, the funding of Philadelphia schools should have remained an isolated issue and voted on its own merits.
“The will of the House in regard to the enabling legislation for the School District of Philadelphia was expressed in the initial passage of House Bill 1177 on July 2. I believe there are other avenues that can be used to advance the extraneous issues added to House Bill 1177.
“Along with several other legislative leaders, I have worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to find consensus and build support in the Legislature for this proposal. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach that consensus in time to consider the legislation for the scheduled session days on August 4th, 5th and 6th.
“I remain optimistic a solution can still be reached. However, time is of the essence and I will continue to work so that the schools will be able to open their doors on time.”
Delaware County Controller Edward E. O’Lone accepted a Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association during the Delaware County Council meeting this morning.
The award recognized the county’s comprehensive annual financial report for the 2012 fiscal year. It is the highest form of recognition for governmental accounting and financial reporting for state and local governments.
O’Lone thanked council and Executive Director Marianne Grace for their commitment to the transparency necessary to win the award. The county has received the honor 19 consecutive years.
“It doesn’t come easy, so savor it for one more year,” O’Lone said.
County council also approved a series of items at the meeting, including:
- A $44,161 contract to Philip Rosenau Company to furnish and deliver hand soap and sanitizer to Fair Acres Geriatric Center for one year.
- The appointments of Marc Manfire, of Upper Darby, and John Gillespie, of Concord, to the advisory council for the county’s Office of Services for the Aging.
- A $150,000 grant to the Tyler Arboretum to restore the last remaining serpentine barren in the county. The funding comes from the Marcellus Legacy Fund.
- The Child Welfare Implementation plan and Needs-Based plan and budget for the county’s Department of Public Welfare.
Here’s a quick look at the most recent campaign finance reports submitted by the four candidates seeking to represent Delaware County in the U.S. House of Representatives. Campaign finance reports were due to the Federal Election Commission on July 15. The cycle documented all campaign money raised and spent from May 1 through June 30. Links to the candidates’ July quarterly reports are included.
First Congressional District
Incumbent Bob Brady, a Democrat from Philadelphia, has $759,773 in hand after collecting $62,155 in campaign funds during the cycle. Of Brady’s funds, $55,400 came from political action committees. Another $6,700 came from individuals, including $300 worth of unitemized donations. Brady spent $71,064, including $35,889 on operating expenses.
Republican challenger Megan Rath, of Philadelphia, has $14,216 in hand after raising $16,256 in campaign funds. All of her funding came from individual donors and included $4,442 worth of unitemized contributions. She spent $3,040, all on operating expenses.
Seventh Congressional District
Incumbent Pat Meehan, a Republican from Upper Darby, has $1.775 million in hand, having generated $243,600 in campaign funding during the cycle. Meehan raised $211,000 from political action committees and another $31,150 from individuals, including $300 in unitemized donations. He spent $77,602, including $58,602 on operating expenses.
Democratic challenger Mary Ellen Balchunis, of Ardmore, has $9,976 in hand. She raised $15,310 during the last cycle — $14,310 of it coming from individuals, including $4,395 in unitemized contributions. She spent $17,941, all on operating expenses.
After a few weeks off for a summer vacation out west, I’m back on the politics beat in Delco. So, this blog might start to get a bit more life again. The state budget is finalized, though Gov. Tom Corbett is still seeking pension reform. And there’s a few noteworthy elections rolling around the bend, led, of course, by the gubernatorial race.
In the meantime, here’s a snippet of what I saw during the last few weeks: