We have a real problem on our hands

Article posted on April 30, 2014

The big news in Harrisburg this week is the revenue shortfall that got much worse in April. Every budget has revenue projections and last year’s seemed to be pretty realistic (with a few exceptions). But even with good intentions and basing them on the best information available at the time, the actual numbers came in vastly different. The numbers have been low for three consecutive months and have produced a total shortfall of about $700 million, which is a lot to address. With the combination of an anemic Obama economy, a brutal Pennsylvania winter, and some federal tax changes, we have a real problem on our hands that will affect the current spending plan as well as next year’s budget.

-John

The presentation did not bode well for President Obama

Article posted on April 29, 2014

The Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast was this morning. Our speaker was former South Carolina Governor David Beasley. The breakfast went very well. We had the former Governor scheduled to spend time with me later in the morning and I enjoyed our time together. He shared a lot of political stories with me as well as many stories of his involvement with Christian outreach in places around the world. I ended the day at the PEG/PAC dinner where the keynote speaker was political pollster and commentator Larry Sabato. It was interesting to see his view of the political picture in America. I always take what these guys say with a grain of salt, but I think that they can generally identify broad trends. His presentation tonight did not bode well for President Obama or his policies.

-John

Help from the public would be appreciated

Article posted on April 28, 2014

I read another story today about former Governor and Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge. This time, he quit a gun control group because he was “uncomfortable” with their activities. This pro-abortion, pro-homosexual agenda “Republican” has shown his true colors after he’s retired from elected office. He is now a lobbyist in Harrisburg and is welcomed into most Republican offices where he peddles his contracted agenda. I have a short list of people who I won’t meet with in office, he is on that list. We had a hearing today on furthering gift ban legislation. I was a guest of the State Government Committee and appreciated the testimony of Common Cause and the legal counsel from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. PA currently ranks in the bottom 20% of states in the gifts and hospitality restrictions we have in place. This has led to legal and ethical problems for many state and local officials. We have a shot at changing this history as we work on tightening these rules. Any help from the public would be appreciated as these bills come up for votes in the near future.

I’ll keep shooting and we’ll keep trying

Article posted on April 27, 2014

I had another Eagle Scout ceremony this afternoon, this time it was in Tyrone. Other than that and church, I did office work until about 7:00. I got home to try the new pheasant recipe for supper. It wasn’t very good. It wasn’t Charlotte’s fault, it just didn’t seem to work. I’ll keep shooting and we’ll keep trying. Most of the stories I saw today were on the Democrat gubernatorial candidates. I don’t know what these reporters did before this race. Every little word or innuendo is covered. There was a story in the Altoona Mirror on government school funding that missed a point of importance locally. If the hold harmless arrangement is changed, most of the local schools will lose substantial funding. Most have lost student population, but continued to receive more money than they did the year before. Compare this to districts that have seen substantial student growth and receive less than districts that they have long passed by. I am hearing from local districts that are asking for the funding formula to change. I think it will, because it’s currently so unfair. But when it does, these districts that are asking for change will be screaming for the status quo.

-John

We are planning to cook some pheasants

Article posted on April 26, 2014

After the Lighthouse this morning, I joined some friends for pancakes at St. John’s Reformed Church in Hollidaysburg. Charlotte plays the organ there and a group of us are regulars at their Spring and Fall breakfasts. I did office work for a couple of hours then stopped by MayFest in Huntingdon on my way to an Eagle Scout ceremony in Orbisonia. I got home in time to mow the grass, my first this season. Charlotte and I are planning to cook some pheasants tomorrow for supper. We have a new recipe that sounds good. We haven’t had much luck with our other game bird recipes. Wish us luck with this one.

-John

He’s a good barber and a good person

Article posted on April 25, 2014

I had a meeting in Altoona this morning at 7:30 then spent the remainder of the day in Bedford County. I attended a Southern Alleghenies R.C.& D. Council meeting at Hoss’s. I was a voting member of the Council when I was a Commissioner and was very active with this conservation organization. I’m invited back to the now semi-annual meetings to keep up with the status of projects in this 6 county area. Before I went to the Bedford Library to help with their Celebration Week, I got a haircut from Don Corley in Bedford. He is losing his shop space next week and isn’t sure where he will relocate at this point, so I got a haircut from him for old times’ sake. He’s a good barber and more importantly, a good person. I wish him well with his new location. I ended the day at the Snake Spring Valley Christian Academy’s annual dinner. A local Pastor had a great message about the benefits of a Christian education. More parents need to understand the opportunities available to students and choose the best path for their children.

-John

These people are the front line of government service

Article posted on April 24, 2014

I was in Broad Top Twp. this afternoon for a groundbreaking ceremony. A long awaited rail-trail, the first in Bedford County, was officially recognized by the trail organizers and a group of government officials including the Secretary of DCNR. The sun was shining and the scenery was gorgeous at the trail head. It was great to see the progress on this trail that will draw people in from far away and be an oft used amenity by the locals. I ended the day at the Blair County Assoc. of Township Officials Convention held at the Geeseytown Fire Hall. They had a big crowd for the turkey dinner and program, which included presentations from Penndot and the Intermunicipal Recycling Committee. I enjoyed breaking bread with these people who are the front line of government services.

-John

This health care treatment model really works

Article posted on April 23, 2014

I don’t remember doing this before, but I made three separate trips to Huntingdon County today. I attended a Chamber breakfast at the Country Club, spoke to the Realtors at Hoss’s for lunch, and hosted the Emergency Services Workshop tonight at the Mill Creek Fire Hall. I had other places to be in between, including seeing Lt. Governor Jim Cawley in Altoona. He stopped by Dr. Zane Gates’ clinic for a tour. He told us that he was very impressed with the information he received from the people who work there, but was most impressed by a young lady who happened to be at the clinic for a medical appointment and spoke to Jim in the waiting room. She explained that she would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the clinic. That is a compelling story about one life affected by the people who dedicate their time at the clinic. A man who I met in the waiting room before Jim got there told me that he will soon be on Medicare and will not meet the guidelines for the clinic any longer. He was very concerned about what will happen to him in that system. There are many reasons why this health care treatment model really works. I’m glad this administration recognized that and was willing to put funding in place to expand it’s impact across the Commonwealth.

-John

I wish them well with their report

Article posted on April 22, 2014

I was interviewed this morning by three Claysburg-Kimmel Civics students.  John and CK students 4-22-14They were delightful and would give most professional media people a run for their money.  I’ve posted the photo we had together after the interview.  I wish them well with their report.  Tonight, the Blair County Chamber hosted a Municipal Cooperation Forum.  I provided a legislative backdrop early in the program.  They brought in folks from DCED and the PA Municipal League to offer their expertise on ways to work together.  The issue of municipal cooperation is touchy.  Some local officials are interested in looking at ways to cooperate, some like the way they currently operate and are not willing to change.  There is always risk and some municipal partners are stronger than others, but given how tight budgets are these days, looking at potential efficiencies seems like it should be automatic.  I give the Chamber a lot of credit in getting the local officials (most of them) into the same room to hear a presentation on cooperation.  Hopefully, some good will come from tonight’s effort.

-John

We’ll see how he does

Article posted on April 21, 2014

We’re back to a regular work week and I have plenty scheduled before session starts next Monday. The Governor was in Blair County today for a ribbon cutting at The Meadows’ new custard stand outside of Hollidaysburg and joined a group of business leaders for lunch at Dave’s Dream. The new Meadows building is very similar to the original, but bigger and with a drive through. There is more parking as well. I was at Penn State Altoona later in the afternoon to meet the incoming President of the university, Dr. Eric Barron and his wife, Molly. It goes without saying that he is coming into this role at a difficult time for the school. We’ll see how he does. He is only the 18th president in the history of PSU. If you’re a Blair County local government official, please don’t forget about the Chamber’s program tomorrow evening on intergovernmental cooperation. And if you are an emergency services person anywhere in the 30th Senatorial District, please call the office and register for the Emergency Services Workshop I’m sponsoring Wednesday evening in Mill Creek.

-John