Here’s our commonwealth roundup for Monday, August 10th.
- How bad is the Philadelphia Public School District funding crisis? State Senators and Representatives demand funding for Philadelphia School Districts.
- Representative Mike Kelly (PA-3) believes that Obama is a divider on race and other issues.
- Governor Tom Corbett still pushing for drilling in the Delaware watershed.
Corbett’s funding package for Philly’s schools, announced in June, includes a one-time infusion of $45 million that originated from an apparent settlement with the federal government. Before Corbett hands over that money, state law requires his education secretary to certify that the District has begun to implement financial, educational and operational “reforms.”
State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) said that the School District has already executed big changes, like closing schools and slashing its budget. He believes that the Corbett administration legally can, and should, release the $45 million payment ASAP.
“Hopefully they’ll get to the point where they will not stand in the school doors of these kids who deserve to have the adults act like adults,” he said. “[The School Reform Commission has] closed 31 schools to try to make a much more efficient and well-run operation.”
Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D-Philadelphia) is also trying to persuade the Corbett administration to provide $45 million to the District now.
“Pennsylvania realized an unexpected windfall and some of that was to be directed to the district if it met satisfactory measures of reform,” he said. “The Philadelphia delegation is comfortable that it has.”
The Corbett administration, however, is not.
The commission is charged with regulating the allocation of water supplies among the member states, ensuring drinking water for New York City, accommodating industrial and recreational water users, protecting fish and aquatic species and maintaining a river flow rate strong enough to prevent the salt water in the tidal Delaware Bay from advancing up the river and contaminating public water supplies in Philadelphia. More than 15 million people rely on Delaware water for drinking, industrial and agricultural uses.
Mr. Corbett’s aides and officials at the state Department of Environmental Protection discussed the moratorium at various times with their counterparts in New York, New Jersey and Delaware, the other three states which, along with the federal government, comprise the Delaware River Basin Commission, said Mr. Henderson. New York state has its own drilling moratorium.
Mr. Henderson said talks focused on the specific details of Pennsylvania’s regulations adopted in recent years to set well construction, cement and casing standards, new water treatment rules and the inclusion of environmental protection provisions in the drilling impact fee law (Act 13 of 2012) addressing such areas as increased well setback distances and well bonding amounts, protection of surface water and groundwater sources and emergency response plans. He said there was less emphasis in these talks on those environmental issues involving the salt line and urban drinking water supplies.
“There’s just a tremendous frustration,” said Mr. Henderson. “We think there are good rules in place in Pennsylvania.”
Republican Rep. Mike Kelly unleashed a diatribe on President Barack Obama on Friday, at one point saying he “divides us on race.”
“This week I heard the president talk about phony scandals. There’s nothing phonier than the words that have come out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. about reuniting this country, bringing us together as a people,” the Pennsylvania Republican said at a news conference Friday. “No, he’s not a uniter; he’s a divider. He divides us on race, he divides us on income. He picks winners and losers.”
Speaking with CQ Roll Call following the event, Kelly did not elaborate on what he meant in calling Obama a divider on issues of race.
“Listen, I’ll tell you what: It’s self-evident,” Kelly said. “I don’t know if people who aren’t reading or not watching, maybe, don’t have the same opinion, but I think it’s pretty obvious where we’re going with some of this stuff.
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