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House GOP Policy Committee Warns DelVal Parents: Dem Budget Plan Could Hurt School Funding

Some school districts would get more state funding, others less under a plan from the Democratic-controlled state House that was discussed recently by the House Republican Policy Committee.

One of the 126 districts likely to lose some or all state funding under the Democratic is the Souderton School District.

Rep. Donna Scheuren (R-Harleysville), representing the Souderton area, said the district was the first to adopt performance-based budgeting in Fiscal Year 2014. In the Democrats’ 87-page bill that was “pushed through in 24 hours” with no Republican input, “Souderton is being penalized for not taxing enough,” said Scheuren, who called the situation “outrageous.”

She said Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposals, like a $60,000 minimum salary for teachers, take away local control. The district is 75 percent funded by local residents, 24 percent by the state, and 1 percent by the federal government. Many SASD residents are senior citizens who cannot afford additional property taxes to make up funding that state officials want to send to other districts, she said.

Shapiro is proposing $3 billion in new spending, while Republicans propose giving $3 billion back to taxpayers by reducing the personal income tax (PIT) from 3.07 percent to 2.8 percent and eliminating the gross receipts tax on electricity, the representatives noted.

Andrew Holman, a policy analyst with the Commonwealth Foundation, testified Pennsylvania is losing thousands of residents — many of them younger, working-aged adults — to states like Florida and Texas, where taxes are lower.

According to the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), Pennsylvania’s working-age population will fall 2.6 percent between 2020 and 2025 and an additional 1.7 percent between 2025 and 2030, resulting in an adverse “dependency ratio” shift from 3.5 working adults per senior to 2.5 by 2030. This shift will have a drastic impact on state finances, he said.

State Reps. John Lawrence, Kristin Marcell, Donna Scheuren, Policy Committee Chair Josh Kail, Torren Ecker, Joe Hogan and David Rowe


Souderton Superintendent Frank Gallagher Ed.D. testified that a state committee report recommended $5.4 billion be used to fund public schools, and $291 million would be paid by 75 school districts, including Souderton.

“This is a penalty on school districts that worked hard to keep their taxes low,” he said. Souderton is “one of 14 districts that will not qualify for (state) adequacy funding. We will be expected to raise local taxes.”

Ironically, if the district had not been careful with its spending and raised taxes over the years to the Act 1 limit, they could continue to get state money.

“If the new formula passes, we would say we’re sorry,” said Gallagher. “We are being forced to raise our taxes. I am asking the General Assembly to provide an allocation for the 7 5 districts that kept taxes low during the Act 1 era.”

“Our taxpayers should not be penalized because we have worked hard to fund schools in a responsible way,” said Gallagher.

Scheuren said, “Instead of being rewarded, the governor has chosen to penalize you.”

Rep. Torren  Ecker (R-Adams) asked Gallagher how he accounts for the success of his district’s students while other districts struggle.

“You’re doing a lot with a little,” he said.

Gallagher said one challenge the district has is “a significant increase” in students who don’t speak English. The biggest industry in the area is meatpacking, with “the largest meat packing plant east of the Mississippi,” and many of the workers are immigrants.

However, they have had success for students learning English with an immersive program. What helps students achieve is “the school and families working together,” he said.

Lower Salford Township Supervisor Chris Canavan, president of W.B. Homes, Wendell Weaver, vice president, Alderfer Glass, and Keith Freed, tax collector for Franconia Township, also testified about the “real world” effects of tax increases.

Weaver said businesses and families are feeling inflation. Healthcare expenses continue to rise, as does the cost of housing. There has also been a “major increase” in the price of electricity.

Canavan said there is a need for skilled labor, and he’s pleased that area school districts are seeing the importance of technical schools. But the area’s housing costs makes it difficult for people to afford homes. Many of his workers commute to the area, he said.

“They need homes, places to raise their children,” said Canavan. “As a township supervisor, I worry about the same thing. We have a wonderful group of volunteer firefighters, most in their 20s. They need homes,” he said. Otherwise, they’ll move to towns with more affordable housing, and Lower Salford will lose those much-needed volunteers.

“If there was ever a time in our lifetime when we needed less government, it is now,” said Kail. “We need lower and fewer taxes. Pennsylvanians deserve control over their own destiny, and both school choice and tax reform can accomplish this.”

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PA House GOP Committee to Investigate Progressive DA Krasner

Pennsylvania Republican House members are stepping up their impeachment process against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a resolution creating the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order. The resolution, announced by Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington) as part of the ongoing effort to impeach Krasne, now goes to the full House for consideration.

It comes after Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) invited crime victims to come to the capital and tell their stories. Several family members spoke passionately about their loved ones who were murdered in the city, and about their dissatisfaction with the district attorney.

White also blasted Krasner over the city’s crime rate. Violent crime in Philadelphia has increased dramatically since he took office in 2018. Krasner, a progressive Democrat, has espoused an approach that includes dropping gun charges against some defendants and not prosecuting minor crimes. The number of shooting incidents in Philadelphia is up over 7 percent, and the number of shooting victims is up almost 5 percent over last year.

“Since the beginning of the effort to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, we have heard from countless Pennsylvanians, business owners, and families who are fed up with the absolute lawlessness in Philadelphia,” Kail said.

“While DA Krasner has been transparent in his willful dereliction of duty to enforce the law and should be removed from office, it is imperative the House takes a comprehensive approach to holding Philadelphia officials accountable with a full airing of the facts, a comprehensive record, and vetted recommendations as we move forward to ensure state law is respected and enforced in our largest city,” he said.

According to the resolution, the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order will consist of five members selected by the Speaker of the House—three Republicans and two Democrats—and have subpoena power.

Those members will be appointed after the resolution passes, officials said.

The committee will examine the effect Krasner’s alleged failure to enforce criminal laws in Philadelphia, how state public safety funding for Philadelphia has been used, and whether victims’ rights are properly protected, officials said.

In addition to impeachment and other methods of removal from office, the committee is also empowered to recommend potential legislative or policy changes that could ensure public safety is guaranteed.

“The problem of unchecked crime and violence in Philadelphia is a statewide concern requiring strong and deliberate state action,” Kail added.

“The investigative Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order will take a deep dive into this issue and offer real remedies to ensure local officials like Larry Krasner are held accountable for their refusal to enforce state law and our cities are once again safe,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Krasner did not respond to a request for comment. However, Krasner’s defenders, including Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), noted Philadelphia voters have elected him twice.

“We can’t go backwards,” Kenyatta said on Facebook. “We have a DA who cares about justice, safety, and accountability. We can’t elect someone who would take us the other way. I’m proud to support Larry Krasner for DA because he’s unabashedly led the charge (to) reform a broken system by building a big winning coalition.”

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