A safe and happy New Year’s Eve

Article posted on December 31, 2015

2016 GoldI enjoyed the Huntingdon County inauguration ceremony this morning and saw a lot of friends at the reception following.  I got some office work done, a newspaper interview and made it just in time to register for the Twilight Run at Lakemont Park.  Charlotte and I are spending the evening at home with friends.  I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve.

-John

Memories of a slick ad campaign

Article posted on December 30, 2015

The beauty of our Republic shines through whether we have a completed budget in PA or not. This morning I attended the inauguration ceremony for the Cumberland County officials. They had a packed court room to welcome new officials and welcome back several incumbents. Tomorrow I’ll be attending the Huntingdon County ceremony and look forward to, also, congratulating all of those officials. I spoke with a number of colleagues today from both the House and the Senate and did several media interviews. What most people are talking about after the Governor’s veto newser yesterday is his anger, and unprofessional behavior. I heard from more than one person today that he looked defeated. His grand plan to tax and spend at record levels has slipped away over the past six months. And although he still will get part of what he wanted, his promises of a billion dollars of spending for education and a billion dollars of tax revenue from the evil energy sector are, fortunately, just memories of a slick ad campaign.

-John

We’re learning just how much that is

Article posted on December 29, 2015

The Governor was just plain nasty today at his newser. He hurled insults at Republicans calling the budget, “garbage” and saying that it was, “an exercise in stupidity.” The bottom line is that we, the Republican legislature, didn’t protect his special interest groups enough. For the uninformed observer, his outcry might seem like this budget was bare bones, cutting everything including his over-hyped school funding. The truth is that this budget spends more than $1 billion over last year’s. It included hundreds of millions more for schools, and well, more for just about everything. It doesn’t include a tax increase at this point, but with the line items he vetoed, he expects us to come back and agree to more spending, which necessitates more taxes. As has been said, there is a price to pay for electing Tom Wolf; we’re learning just how much that is.

-John

We’ll see

Article posted on December 28, 2015

Late today, the Governor announced that he’s having a news conference tomorrow morning at 10:30 to explain what he’s doing with the budget bill he’s had since last Wednesday. No one seems to know what he has decided. The Senate received word that we will not be in session tomorrow, but we are still on 6 hour call. My understanding is that the House will have to act first if further action is required on this budget. So, they may be called back before we are, depending upon what the Governor does. He can veto it in its entirety, which is what he’s done the previous two times, he can use his line item veto authority and allow most of the budget to work and funding to flow to everyone impacted by the stalemate, he can sign it, or he can wait a few more days and it will become law without his signature. This decision is strictly his; he can stop the harm he’s inflicted on many people in the system, or continue to fight for unprecedented taxes and spending. We’ll see.

-John

Take them for what they’re worth

Article posted on December 27, 2015

There wasn’t much in the papers this Sunday. There’s nothing new about the budget and I didn’t see stories speculating on what could happen. There was an interesting story on legislative expenses in the Morning Call, but it didn’t explain caucus expenses adequately. I often wonder how much of a given newspaper story is cut for space because I see many subjects within a story that don’t connect or come to an understandable conclusion. Of course, there is an ample share of plain bad writing along with a sprinkling of liberal bias. Of the larger papers in the state, most political followers regard just one to be “fair and balanced.” I say all this to make the point that as the legislature and the Governor fight over public policy issues, including arguably the most significant public policy debate annually, the budget, most of the Commonwealth’s newspapers do the bidding for the left. Fortunately, it is my experience that most constituents don’t get their information from the papers, and those who do, take them for what they’re worth.

-John

If he vetoes anything, it will be this line

Article posted on December 26, 2015

Everyone is still waiting to see what the Governor does with the budget he was sent earlier in the week. This is the third budget sent to him by the legislature since June. The fact that he didn’t immediately veto it in its entirety is a good sign. The conventional thinking is that he’ll use his line item veto on a few lines that would bring the legislature back for further negotiations. This budget, as it currently stands, can work with no tax increases. The funding for the state-related universities is not yet included in the final number, because those bills are passed separately. The addition of those expenses could require additional revenue depending on how much of an increase those schools are given. But again, they could receive their funding, including an increase, with no additional revenue requirement. The Basic Ed line item, that has received a lot of attention from the Governor, got a $100 million increase in this budget. The number in the agreed-to budget a couple of weeks ago was $350 million. Most people feel that if he vetoes anything, it will be this line. If he brings the legislature back and asks for higher taxes, the pension bill is back on the table. The Senate has said from the beginning that votes for a tax increase are possible only with pension reform.

-John

Hope everyone had a blessed day

Article posted on December 25, 2015

christmasJohnny is home for Christmas and we really enjoyed our time together. The family gathered at my sister Gail’s home in Waterside for Christmas dinner. Everything was great, as usual and everyone was there, except for my brother Todd and his family who were visiting his in-laws in New Mexico. Hope everyone had a blessed day.

-John

Merry Christmas Eve

Article posted on December 24, 2015

I hope everyone has time with family and friends on this Christmas Eve.  May the peace and hope of this season extend to you throughout the new year.  Merry Christmas from Charlotte, Johnny and me.

-John

You never know what he is willing to do

Article posted on December 23, 2015

In yet another unexpected turnaround, the Senate today passed a General Appropriations bill that came over from the House a couple of weeks ago. The total spend number in the budget deal under recent consideration was about $30.8 billion, this bill brings that total down to about $30.2 billion. The Governor gets some things he wants, but these limits are much more reasonable. There is still an opportunity to get pension and liquor reform depending on what’s agreed to with the revenue package. As of the time I wrote this, the Governor had issued no statement about signing or vetoing the bill. The bill had some bipartisan support and would allow funding to start flowing immediately to people who have been owed money since June 30th. I can’t imagine that he will veto this budget bill in its entirety, but, I have learned that you never know what he is willing to do to advance his own agenda.

-John

Senator Eichelberger’s Statements on Passage of Budget Bill

Article posted on December 23, 2015

lHARRISBURG (December 23, 2015) – Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. (R-Blair) released the following statements following today’s passage of general appropriations legislation, HB1460, Printer’s No. 2626:

“I supported this bill in order to provide the social service agencies, local governments, and schools the money they desperately need as soon as possible and keep the total taxpayer burden at a reasonable level.

Once again, the fate of their funding rests solely with the governor. I implore him to stop holding the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians hostage and sign this legislation into law immediately. By approving this plan, the governor can join the legislature in offering everyone hope that a complete resolution is close at hand.

A number of critical issues will still need to be addressed. At the top of that list is the tax code, which identifies the revenue sources for the budget.

Folks I hear from across the 30th District overwhelmingly oppose raising taxes to match higher spending. I wholeheartedly agree and will continue, as always, to stand up for the hardworking people of this Commonwealth. I will fight to increase government efficiency, and I will insist on finding alternative revenue sources, but I will not vote for any new or expanded taxes.

Furthermore, the previously agreed-upon budget framework called for historic pension reform and modernization of our state liquor store system. I remain committed to finding a way to accomplish these reforms and believe that this General Appropriations bill provides an opportunity to make significant improvements to both systems.

I look forward to working with my colleagues to complete the remainder of the work on a budget that includes liquor and pension reform and ask the Governor to sign this bill into law.”

Please contact Patrick Schurr, Executive Assistant, at 814-695-8386 or email pschurr@pasen.gov for additional information.

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