The rumors and stories are flying

Article posted on September 30, 2009

Day 92 without a real budget. The rumors and stories are flying about the House D’s not being able to get the budget deal done. We just got word that we will not be voting on any bills tomorrow and can go home. I have a hearing in the morning and am trying to line up a meeting in the afternoon so I’ll be around most of the day. The sticking points for the House D’s seem to be: a tax on gas drilling, increased drilling in state forests, tax on the small games of chance and taxes on museums and the arts. There are other issues, I’m sure, but the bottom line is that the House can’t seem to deliver the votes on the deal that was agreed to. At this point, even if things come together, we could be looking at the end of next week or the week after that for the budget to be signed. The Governor’s projection of Sunday was never realistic, but could be way off. I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again, we will know more tomorrow.

– John

We will learn tomorrow

Article posted on September 29, 2009

Day 91 without a real budget. I am back in Harrisburg a day before session begins because I had a meeting and dinner tonight. The PA Chamber’s annual dinner was at the Hershey Lodge and featured Condoleezza Rice. She was very nice and gave an inspiring speech. She handled the questions and answers well showing her intellect and command of international issues. I had the fortune to see three former Secretaries of State in the past year, Henry Kissinger, Madeline Albright and Condi Rice. Both Kissinger and Rice were outstanding, professional people. Madeline Albright was anything but. As we enter into what has been described as the final days of the budget impasse. There are news stories tonight of the House Democrats bailing on the deal again. I just don’t know what to believe at this point. We will learn more tomorrow, stay tuned.

– John

This entire situation has been a mess from the beginning

Article posted on September 28, 2009

Day 90 without a real budget. Another deal was announced today by the Governor and the leadership of the Senate and House Democrats. Supposedly, this time, the deal will stick and the votes are there to pass it. I don’t think that much changed from the last announced deal but I will learn more on Wednesday when the Senate is back in session. We were told today that we would go into session on Wednesday and stay until the budget is done. The Governor said that he wants it done by Sunday, I don’t think that it will be until Monday or Tuesday. The House Republicans are reportedly still not on board so the House D’s will have to come up with almost every member to pass these bills. This entire situation has been a mess from the beginning and it looks like it will be a mess at the end.

– John

Senator Eichelberger to Discuss Budget and Marriage Amendment in Hyndman

Article posted on September 28, 2009

Looking forward to addressing constituents

On Thursday, October 8, 2009, Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. will hold a Town Hall meeting in Hyndman, Pennsylvania focusing on the state budget and the “Marriage Protection Amendment”, legislation that he is sponsoring.

“It has been a difficult year for the budget process because of the Governor’s unwillingness to meet a constitutional deadline. This town hall meeting will give me an opportunity to explain the behind-the-scenes process and address concerns. Citizens will also learn about my upcoming legislation, the “Marriage Protection Amendment” and how it will allow them to decide how to define marriage and why it is important to all Pennsylvanians,” says Eichelberger.

WHO: State Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
WHAT: Town Hall Meeting
WHEN: Thursday, October 8, 2009, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Hyndman Fire Hall
Center Street
Hyndman, PA 15545

Media RSVP is appreciated. Please call Legislative Aide, Sharon Turkovich at 814-623-5004 or email sturkovich@pasen.gov.

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I wouldn’t bet the truck on it

Article posted on September 27, 2009

Day 89 without a real budget. I didn’t see much of anything in the newspapers today. Most of the stories were about the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. I talked to a State Rep. today who told me that he heard the budget deal was changed yesterday and that the House D’s were more on board. Who knows about this, it could be just another rumor. I went to a couple of stores this afternoon and was stopped on two occasions by volunteer firefighters who don’t like the tax on the small games of chance. I told them that there were discussions in Harrisburg last week about the issue and that there may be some remedies proposed. I also told them that I was not supporting the tax. Yesterday I heard from several veterans concerning the same issue and how it would affect their Legions and VFW’s. This tax is not going down well and I predict that all legislators will be hearing about it from their constituents. This week will be make or break time for the budget deal. It either gets done or we start over. I’m guessing the chances are 60/40 for the deal. I wouldn’t bet the truck on it, however.

– John

The minute we give up is the minute the people give up on us

Article posted on September 26, 2009

Day 88 without a real budget. I was out to several places today and talked to a lot of people about the state of the state. I had an interesting comment from a man tonight in Bedford County at a Friends of the NRA Dinner. He told me to keep fighting for the people of this state in the budget mess. He said that the people are behind us in Harrisburg as long as we are fighting for them, the minute we give up is the minute the people give up on us. I think he is right. I heard from one person today that was personally involved in the funding stoppage and wants something done, everyone else seems to want the right deal done, not just something. I attended and spoke at a service to welcome back the 56th Stryker Brigade and remember Specialist Chad Edmundson from Williamsburg, who was killed in action earlier this year. General Jessica Wright was on hand along with some other officers. It was a great service that showed the respect due these troops from members of our community. If you weren’t proud to be an American when you left home, you were proud when you returned.

– John

I don’t buy the hype

Article posted on September 25, 2009

Day 87 without a real budget. I was asked yesterday by an agency director in the senate district, what I thought the chances were of having the budget signed into law by about Oct. 6th. I told him that at 3:42 on Thursday afternoon, my best estimate is 60 to 65 percent that it would be in place. I qualified my response that way because things can change so rapidly and the members of the Senate don’t have a good handle on what the House is doing. I have heard more persistent rumors and understand that there are news reports saying that a fairly large number of House D’s will not vote for the budget. A large number being 20 or so. This coupled with the information that the House R’s are saying that only about 4 of their members will vote for the budget and you don’t have the needed 102 votes out of 203 to pass it. However, saying that you won’t vote for it now, and really not voting for it are two different things. Many times members have come to me and said that they won’t support a bill and they end up voting for it. The other thing that leads me to think twice about these stories is that the reasons they give for not supporting the budget are specific line items. I don’t think that too many members of the General Assembly scrap a budget vote over any specific line item. Everybody likes some lines of the budget and is not happy with others. You don’t vote for the budget for larger. principled reasons like opposing tax increases or keeping overall spending within certain parameters or reforming government programs. I don’t buy the hype on this story yet, but I’m not betting the truck on the budget deal either.

– John

I wish that I could write about more things like these

Article posted on September 24, 2009

Day 86 without a real budget. Again today, we were in session and caucus with little movement of any bills related to the budget. The work being done on the bills is slow, but we are moving ahead with what we can do. The plan is to come back next week and possibly stay until the budget is finished. Of course, everything depends on what the House is doing. We had a Local Government Commission meeting this morning and had on the agenda two major efforts of the Commission, updating the bonding requirements of county officials and codifying the Third Class City Code. Both of these items are interesting to people involved in local government and are desperately needed. These changes take months to prepare and probably will take months to get through the legislature. These are examples of the good work that is done by the people in state government. I wish that I could write about more things like these two bills.

– John

The devil is in the details

Article posted on September 23, 2009

Day 85 without a real budget. We’re back in session today, but not getting much further on the budget. Details are still coming together and there are pervasive rumors about the House not holding its votes together. We will work on some issues this week and start the more substantial bills next week, if things totally come together. The Small Games of Chance legislation was a big topic today in the Senate. The weekly limit increase has been an issue for the past couple of years, the new twist is that the games are to be taxed as part of the budget deal. This tax isn’t sitting well with some of us including the volunteer fire fighters across the state. There are a number of deals like this that will surface over the next few days and anger those people who are affected. Whoever said, “the devil is in the details,” must have been talking about our state budget.

– John

That’s the way it’s been all summer

Article posted on September 22, 2009

Day 84 without a real budget. There are rumors and stories floating around the capitol that the House may not have the votes to pass the budget. I would think that the votes are there, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. We’ll know much more tomorrow when we go back into session. I have had a lot of questions about individual spending lines. I’ll report on the most asked about when I get the info. Some people will be happy and some won’t. That’s the way it’s been all summer.

– John