A great example of why we’re in the mess we’re in

Article posted on March 31, 2010

At the very start of the current economic recession, several House members and myself held a news conference at the capitol and ask the Governor to cut spending during that budget year. He has the authority and the responsibility to control spending and preserve the balanced budget that was passed into law. While we were still in the Media Center answering questions that autumn day, the Governor’s spokesman weighed in by email to a reporter in attendance and essentially said that we were crazy. We over reacted to the first quarter figures and were “hitting the panic button”. Obviously, we were right, he was wrong and he has done too little since to control spending. I was reminded of that situation today when I read an AP account of comments from Senate Appropriations Chair Jake Corman and a response from the Governor. After looking at the March receipts and projecting the revenue shortfall out to June 30, Jake raised his year end deficit number to 1 billion dollars and asked the Governor to make further cuts now to help alleviate this growing problem. The Governor’s response was to wait until we see April’s figures before taking action. We are now about 600 Million in the red and the Governor wants to wait another month to address this issue. This is a great example of why we’re in the mess we’re in.

– John

Most just need to be asked

Article posted on March 30, 2010

We had four more advisory committees in this afternoon, Business, Agriculture, Healthcare and Emergency Services. It was again, time well spent. I learned about local problems as well as a broader perspective on state-wide issues. I greatly appreciate these many busy people taking time out of their schedules to sit down with me for an hour and discuss matters important to their industry. They get nothing out of it for themselves. There are always good people willing to step up in every community. Most just need to be asked and occasionally, I ask.

– John

I always learn a lot

Article posted on March 29, 2010

I had a meeting with four of my advisory committees in the Hollidaysburg office this afternoon. I met with the Veterans, Seniors, Pro-Family and Sportsmen committees. I had a very small agenda that I wanted to review with them, but mostly listened to what their concerns were for the remainder of this session and beyond. I tried to set some priorities and ended up with a little homework from two of the groups and I will report back to them with answers. These panels are a great way for me to gather information on targeted subjects from a group of people that either work in that field or have some other interest. We have four more groups coming in tomorrow. I always learn a lot.

– John

Remember the mediawhen someone asks how we’ve gotten into this mess

Article posted on March 28, 2010

There weren’t stories of interest, at least to me, in the papers today. Every editorial writer is still rehashing Obama Care, the Veon Bonusgate verdict and pontificating on the fall elections. Whatever happened to hard news. I see very little of it these days and some of the stories I do see are inaccurate and, or are slanted to the opinion of the writer. For all of the problems we have in Harrisburg, all of the corruption, the lack of courage, the absence of a moral compass, the get ahead at any cost attitude and so many other serious deficiencies, the press leaves most things alone. If it’s messy, they don’t seem to want to wade in. We could clean up a lot of the bad behaviors with some attention by the media. If the folks back home don’t know or understand what goes on with their member of the General Assembly and all they see about the issues is his or her newsletter, they’ll never know the truth, at least the whole truth. Even when some of us have brought issues to the forefront, they don’t get much attention. Remember the media when someone asks you how we’ve gotten into the mess we’re in.

– John

You can’t ask for much more than that

Article posted on March 27, 2010

I missed going to the Lighthouse fellowship this morning. We had an anniversary celebration and I didn’t think that our band was going to play. When I turned on my cell phone late in the morning, I had a text message from one of the band members at 7:12 am, “where are you?”. Maybe I should have been there. I did get a little work done today, but mostly ran errands and took care of some things at home. There wasn’t much in the news that I noticed. The next Bonusgate cases are getting a lot of ink as well as the state-wide elections. The papers haven’t really focused on the state budget yet, I’m sure they will. Tonight Charlotte and I are attending the Blue Knob Fire Company’s banquet. We’ll get a good meal and enjoy the company of nice people. You can’t ask for much more than that.

– John

Two women who have given so much to our community

Article posted on March 26, 2010

I attended the funeral today of Bessie Wilt, a long time friend who baby sat Johnny when he was very young. She was a grand lady who had a tremendous heart and a kind word for everyone. She was 95. I later went to a luncheon to honor another long time friend, Teddi Leiden, who was instrumental in the development of many aspects of current laws pertaining to the mentally retarded. This lady started the Blair County Arc in 1954, was the President of the Pennsylvania Arc, established several advocacy groups for a better quality of life for individuals with mental retardation and monitored state institutions concerning their care of this population. I served twice as president of the Blair County Arc and continue to work with the board on many issues. It was good to celebrate the lives of two women today who have given so much to our community.

– John

I have a lot of faith in them

Article posted on March 25, 2010

I had a day back home to do paperwork, scheduling, meet with constituents and attend some functions. This afternoon, the Huntingdon County Convention and Visitors Bureau had their annual Tourism Summit. I was able to go for about an hour and talk to many in attendance. It is an interesting time for tourism, particularly in this economy and particularly in Huntingdon County. Some attractions do better when people stay closer to home, some don’t. Our area is usually pretty resilient. We don’t prosper quite as much as many areas when times are good, but we don’t fall as far and suffer as much as these areas when things go bad. To remind me of how much better things can get, I attended the Tyrone Area Future Farmers of America Banquet this evening. These young men and women hold the promise of better days ahead. I have a lot of faith in them.

– John

Anything that I can do to help them continue their service

Article posted on March 24, 2010

On the way back from Harrisburg, I made a stop in Breezewood for our 3rd Annual Emergency Services Workshop. We had about 45 firefighters and emergency medical folks at the fire hall for the event. Ed Mann, the PA Fire Commissioner, was the presenter and gave a two and a half hour seminar that covered as much information as he could provide in that period. We need these emergency personnel in our communities and anything that I can do to help them continue their service, I’m glad to do.

– John

This does not bode well for this year’s budget process

Article posted on March 23, 2010

The House today passed the Rendell Spending Plan. This bloated bill is not balanced, spends way too much money and has zero reforms. I was sorry to see that a few Republicans voted with the Democrats for this legislation. This year will be tougher than last. We will be in the red about $800 million by June 30th and have no reserves to draw from. We will get some federal stimulus funds, but are also looking ahead to the pending pension spike in 2012. The games have already started with the budget. Instead of zero based budgeting or realistically working on the problems that lie before us, the House leadership decided to spend time on a make believe budget bill. This does not bode well for this year’s budget process.

– John

The numbers speak for themselves

Article posted on March 22, 2010

Tonight the jury in the Bonusgate trial of former Representative Mike Veon and his associates came back with its’ decision. There were four defendants in the case. The guilty findings compared to the charges were as follows: Keefer – 0 convictions of 16 charges, Rosepink – 5 convictions of 22 charges, Cott – 3 convictions of 42 charges and Veon – 14 convictions of 59 charges. These add up to a total of 22 convictions of 139 charges or a 15.8% conviction rate. When you factor in the Sean Ramaley case held last year with no convictions and the fact that some or all of these 22 convictions will surely be appealed, this doesn’t look too good for the Attorney General. Remember this was supposed to be a slam dunk and Tom Corbett made public statements about the over abundance of evidence that he had. After 3 years and about $10 million, this is all we got. In comparison, look at the Senator Vince Fumo case last year handled by the feds. They charged Fumo with 137 counts of various crimes and got convictions on all of them. I’ll know more tomorrow about the seriousness of the convictions, potential penalties and what both sides are saying. Pay attention to the facts. The numbers speak for themselves.

– John