Buried Under Email

Article posted on May 31, 2007

I had another “catch up” day planned with little on my schedule but ended up spending a lot more time than anticipated on various things.  We are still getting the district offices up and running and getting close to completion.  I went to the Bedford County Young at Heart dinner tonight, spoke and left for the Oneida District Good Scout Dinner in Huntingdon, Mr. David Goodman was honored.  Folks were very nice to me at both places.  People are ramping up the emails on budget items these days and I expect that I’ll see even more before things are settled.  In my opinion, getting the same email from 20 different people doesn’t have the same effect as a few personalized ones do.  I still look at them all myself, which isn’t getting any easier.

– John

Pre-K Funding

Article posted on May 30, 2007

I was supposed to have a day with nothing on the schedule so I could get some things done but I ended up with a few things to attend and many calls and emails to tackle.  I just went to a scholarship awards banquet at the Cesare Battisti Club in Altoona, I was the speaker.  Nine high school seniors got 1,000 dollar scholarships from the club.  It was a nice event and Dick DiFalco and the board and members of the club always make me feel welcome.  I talked to several people today about the Governor’s Pre-K initiative.  This is the only program he introduced that seems to have any traction, at least in our area.  Our state-wide school performance is so bad that putting more money into the same system isn’t an option, for me anyway.  A total overhaul is needed but I don’t think we’re going to see one in the next 30 days.  At this point we will have to settle for taking from one line in the education budget and moving it to Pre-K if it is going to be adopted.

– John

What kind of budget do you want?

Article posted on May 29, 2007

Just getting back from our “Open House” in McConnellsburg.  We had a big group that was friendly.  The people of Fulton County have been very good to Charlotte and I and we feel very comfortable there.  We are another day closer to getting a budget passed and I am not sure of the direction we as Republicans are taking.  I think our message has been one of capping spending at 3.2 percent in the Senate, I don’t know about the House.  I am not sure about everyone’s position on some of the proposed new or increased taxes, I don’t hear a unified message.  Most disturbingly, I don’t hear much about cutting expenses or changing how Pennsylvania does business.  What do you think our approach to the budget should be?

– John

Next Online Townhall Meeting: June 05

Article posted on May 29, 2007

I will be holding my next online townhall meeting on Tuesday, June 5 from 7pm – 8pm.  Please join me to talk about the upcoming budget fight, what I’ve been working on in Harrisburg, and whatever else is on your mind.  Note that you must register prior to the chat by clicking here or visiting the Online Townhall page.  Instructions for logging in will be posted here the night of the chat.

Memorial Day

Article posted on May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day everyone!  I hope that everybody attended a memorial service somewhere or watched one on television if they could not travel.  I started my day with a service in Martinsburg where I spoke and played with the Cove Community Band.  I was in the parade then attended the service at the cemetery.  I went to my sister Wendy’s house for a picnic then to the “God and Country Rally” at the Meadows Intersection outside of Hollidaysburg.  They had a great Blue Grass band and a good crowd.  I knew a lot of the folks at both of the events I attended today.  I’m at the office now catching up on a few things and getting ready for remodeling to start on our Hollidaysburg district office tomorrow.  We have waited a long time to get this office made into a real office.  It was retail space and basically, everyone works out of one big room with no privacy and no amenities.  The open house for our Fulton County office is tomorrow afternoon/evening and the Huntingdon and Bedford offices are not far behind.  I have felt like a realtor and contractor these first five months in office and am anxious to have all four of the district offices completed.

– John

Remember Memorial Day

Article posted on May 27, 2007

My apologies to regular Eichelblog readers for not posting yesterday.  I was at The National Museum of the Coverlet grand opening in Bedford last evening with Charlotte and simply forgot.  I’ll try to not let it happen again.  I am at my office on Sunday afternoon after attending the annual Marine Corp. service at Alto Rest Cemetery in Altoona.  It was a very nice service, Representative Rick Geist spoke and I played taps.  I am working on my speech for the Memorial Day service I will be attending tomorrow morning in Martinsburg and doing lots of other things that need done.  I hope that everyone attends a service somewhere over this three day weekend.  It is greatly important to hear again the message of sacrifice and remember the sorrow of so many in this country’s proud history.  All too often, our holidays turn into simply a day off work and little recognition is given by us individually to the meaning of that day.  Our very few national holidays are set forth as important symbols of great significance and should be celebrated with respect and recognition as well as time with family.  As an elected official, it is important for me to help with public services and provide the opportunity for citizens to understand our heritage and appreciate our privileges as Americans. 

– John

State Republicans say Rendell’s budget too fat

Article posted on May 26, 2007

State Republican officials yesterday assailed Gov. Ed Rendell’s 2007-08 spending plan, calling it a “direct assault on taxpayers’ wallets.”

State GOP Chairman Robert A. Gleason Jr. and Executive Director Luke Bernstein spoke against the budget during a news conference in Altoona.

State Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair, also spoke.

Read the full Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story here.

Republican State Committee and Me

Article posted on May 25, 2007

An earlier than usual blog post today because of my schedule.  This morning, Republican State Committee Chairman Rob Gleason and RSC Executive Director Luke Bernstein were in Altoona with me for two media events.  We did a local television talk show, “Weekend Wrap-Up”: then a news conference.  The subject of the day was the Governor’s proposed budget including his seven new or increased taxes.  After the actions of the House this week, it appears that it it business as usual in Harrisburg.  No sweeping changes, no innovation, no zero based budgeting, no TABOR or TPA caps, just a repeat of the prior year with some new programs that the people of this state can’t afford.  We could not be more effective in driving away business if that that was our goal.  I am very disappointed to date in the budget process and hope that very soon we start to talk about ways to provide services better and more efficiently.  We shall see.

– John

RSC and Senator Eichelberger deliver message to Governor: ‘No new taxes, no increased spending’

Article posted on May 25, 2007

May 25, 2007                                                                                  Contact: Michael Barley
For Immediate Release                                                                        (717) 234-4901


HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Republican Chairman Robert A. Gleason, Jr. and Executive Director Luke Bernstein were pleased to be joined by Sen. John Eichelberger in Altoona today to dissect Gov. Rendell’s bloated budget.

“Gov. Rendell’s budget is a direct assault on taxpayer’s wallets,” Gleason said.  “The Republican Party of Pennsylvania does not believe that we need to raise taxes or increase spending to balance a budget.  I realize that is impossible to fathom for many Democrats in Harrisburg, but tough decisions need to be made.  Everyday, Pennsylvania families are forced to make hard choices to balance their check books, and there is no excuse why Gov. Rendell and the state government shouldn’t operate the same way.  It is the responsible thing to do!”

“Furthermore, I was proud to be joined by Sen. John Eichelberger today, because he shares the Party’s concerns when it comes to Gov. Rendell’s budget.  He understands, like all Republicans, how this budget places an undo burden on Pennsylvania’s hardworking families. Reducing the size of government and streamlining the bureaucracy are two of our Party’s most important principles and I salute Senator Eichelberger for representing the people of his district with great distinction.”

Gov. Rendell and Democrats called for numerous new tax increases this year.  Included in this budget is an increase in the gas tax, a payroll tax on small businesses that can not afford to provide health insurance to their employees, a new tax on smokeless tobacco, increased taxes on cigars and cigarettes, a tax on trash pick-up, and an increased tax on electricity.  This is in addition to the gun tax the Democrats supported earlier this year.  According to Freedomworks.org, Gov. Rendell’s budget will cost the average family of four an additional $804 a year in taxes!

“Governor Rendell’s budget includes seven new taxes or increases, and increases spending yet again,” Eichelberger said.  “This is a budget that Pennsylvania cannot afford and the Republican caucus in the Senate will not support.  Pennsylvania’s economy is lagging precisely because of policies such as the Governor is proposing, and it’s time we started moving Pennsylvania forward by cutting spending, cutting taxes, and finding new ways to do the business of government.  The Governor has to stop funding his pet projects on the backs of working Pennsylvanians and our small businesses.”

Republican Party Executive Director Luke Bernstein concluded, “The only way Pennsylvania taxpayers can avoid Gov. Rendell’s higher taxes is if they eat dinner in the dark, bury their trash in the back yard, leave their car in the garage, and only purchase food and clothing.”

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Promoting The Alleghenies

Article posted on May 24, 2007

Went to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus for a student event for Senator Don White this morning.  It surprises me how much the kids’ positions on issues can be swayed by the authoritative figures (today it was guys like me) in the classroom.  I left the campus and went to a regional tourism “newser” on The Alleghenies branding of our region.  It was good to see a lot of my friends from the tourism industry.  I spent a lot of time working on tourism over the years and know that there is a good group of people locally who work hard and do a good job.  I just finished a parade in Three Springs.  I rode in a carriage with the three Huntingdon County Commissioners and Rep. Mike Fleck.  I got to ride on the seat with the driver and I asked a lot of questions about the horses.  It was interesting. 

– John