Government

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - Over the summer, officials in Bath, Northampton County, decided to pull out of the Colonial Regional Police Department. 

Katie Meyer

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- State House lawmakers have moved a bill onto the floor calling for a severance tax on natural gas drilling.

It's a big step for Democrats and moderate Republicans, who have pushed the tax for years. But there's a good chance the measure will languish without a vote for the foreseeable future. 

It would create a tax on the volume of gas taken from the ground, on top of an existing fee for new wells drilled.

PA Senator: GOP Tax Plan A 'Giveaway To The Rich'

8 hours ago
Ben Allen / WITF

Pennsylvania's senior U.S. Senator doesn't see much hope for the middle class in a tax plan supported by Republicans.

Democratic Senator Bob Casey and other members of the Senate Finance Committee met with President Trump in the White House Wednesday to discuss a proposal to cut taxes. 

Casey gave Trump a letter from a 73-year old Adams County constituent on a fixed income. The senator said he shares the man's concerns.

PA House Budget Proposal May Be The Only Option

8 hours ago
Katie Meyer

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- The state House has now sent the Senate most of the revenue components necessary to finish Pennsylvania's budget--more than three months behind schedule.

Senate leaders say they'll make a good-faith effort to pass them, despite their flaws.

But the budget's completion might still hinge on whether the chambers can agree on a gambling expansion. 

The main component of the House proposal is a $1.5 billion in borrowing against the state's Tobacco Settlement fund. That money would be paid back with interest over 20 years.

Vice President Greets Supporters In Buffalo

Oct 18, 2017
Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Vice President Mike Pence came to Buffalo Tuesday to talk tax reform.

At the Buffalo International Airport, a crowd of media and supporters gathered on the windy tarmac to greet Pence as he exited his plane.

The vice president was greeted by Western NY Republican Congressman Chris Collins, an early supporter of the Trump campaign. The two shook hands and took pictures as a sea of fans pressed against a barrier to get a glimpse.

Although his time on the tarmac was brief, Pence said he was grateful to be in the western New York city.

David Wilson / Flickr

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Some state lawmakers are trying to get restitution for what they see as bad US Federal Reserve policies during the recovery of the housing market.  

The ask? Around $20 billion dollars.

The state Treasury would be required to lobby the federal government for those funds under a resolution that recently passed committee in the House.

The practice at the core of the resolution is quantitative easing, or QE.

PA House Passes Familiar Budget...Minus New Revenue

Oct 18, 2017

HARRISBURG (WSKG) - House lawmakers narrowly passed part of a proposal Tuesday night to finish Pennsylvania's overdue state budget--their first significant action since talks melted down two weeks ago. 

It's extremely similar to a plan that previously failed to garner support. However, this version borrows more money and doesn't include significant recurring revenue, from taxes or otherwise.

It came together on the heels of a cooling-off period for the legislature, following Governor Tom Wolf's announcement he would balance the budget unilaterally.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

ALBANY (WSKG) - Governor Cuomo joined other New York Democrats in condemning the federal tax overhaul plan in the wake of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Western New York.  

Cuomo, also speaking in Buffalo where the VP was  attending a fundraiser for Representative Chris Collins, said a provision in the tax overhaul to eliminate deductibility for state and local taxes would deliver a “death blow” to New York. He says it would result in “double taxation” and be a windfall for other states at New York’s expense.

Katie Meyer

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Pennsylvania lawmakers might be close to a bipartisan agreement that gets a natural gas severance tax to the House floor. 

Similar efforts have failed repeatedly over the last several years--and as recently as this month. But a slightly friendlier committee might make this time different.

Most House severance tax bills end up in the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which is stacked with conservative Republicans who tend to oppose tax hikes or new taxes.

Associated Press

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- The state House and Senate are back in session after taking time off following the collapse of budget negotiations earlier this month. 

There's no concrete strategy moving forward.

But some lawmakers say they hope opposition to Governor Tom Wolf's unilateral budget-balancing plan will eventually spur the body into action.

Wolf has announced he intends to bring the state's books in line by borrowing against liquor control board revenues, leasing out the state Farm Show complex, and not passing funding for state related universities.

A wide variety of groups have spent more than $1.3 million to urge voters to vote “no” on holding a constitutional convention. The opponents have far outspent a smaller number of advocates who urge a "yes" vote on the November ballot. 

The more than 150-member coalition opposing a constitutional convention includes labor unions, and the state’s Conservative Party, which often opposes unions. Also against the convention are both pro and anti-abortion groups, environmentalists and gun rights organizations.

A group of protesters recently gathered outside of Mohawk Valley Congresswoman Claudia Tenney's (R-New Hartford) office in New Hartford. They were upset with the Republican representative's vote for a budget resolution that they say would gut services for many New Yorkers who are in need of assistance.

Lindsey Lazarski / Keystone Crossroads

A bill under consideration in the state House changes the way Pennsylvania enacts new regulations on everything from education, to health, and the environment. 

HB 1237 would add new requirements to Pennsylvania’s Regulatory Review Act, an already byzantine process by which regulations are scrutinized by the general public, state legislators, and an independent commission. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the House Commerce committee Monday.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) got an earful from an angry crowd in Seneca County over the weekend. He tried to keep things calm at the Romulus Central School town hall on Saturday, but tempers frequently boiled over.


Ryan Delaney / Innovation Trail

ALBANY (WSKG) - The state’s Comptroller is siding with Governor Cuomo over concerns that federal health care cuts will damage New York’s budget, but he says the governor’s budget experts should have saved more money in rainy day funds. 

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says Cuomo is right to draw attention to over a billion dollars in potential health care cuts to the state, now that Congress and President Trump have postponed acting on a new federal budget.

David Wilson / Flickr

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- State Treasurer Joe Torsella has decided to authorize a five-day, $700 million loan to keep Pennsylvania from missing Medicaid payments while its general fund runs low. 

The move is politically fraught.

For two months, Torsella, a Democrat, refused to lend money until the legislature passed a plan that would balance the state's finances.

Now, Governor Tom Wolf is taking unilateral steps to try and bring the three-months-late budget in line. But critics of Torsella and Wolf say not enough has actually changed to justify the shift in position.

Al Powers/Invision/AP, File

Governor Cuomo now says he’s returning all of the money donated to his campaign from disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein.

Cuomo initially returned $50,000 donated from Weinstein to the governor’s 2018 re lection campaign. The governor said he’d already spent over $60,000 that the politically liberal movie mogul had donated to previous campaigns, and so could not give it back.  

Weinstein is accused of sexually harassing and raping women. Weinstein has denied the charges, though he’s admitted he has a problem and is seeking help.

Karen DeWitt

ALBANY (WSKG) - The State Comptroller has announced that New York joins 28 other states in offering a program that will help people disabled children save money for their future. 

Katie Meyer

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Governor Tom Wolf has gone public over the past two days to promote his plan to balance the state budget without action from the legislature. 

It mostly involves borrowing, and a number of smaller cost-saving measures. But a lot is still unknown about it.

For instance, Wolf's plans to borrow money against the state liquor industry and Farm Show complex in Harrisburg could see challenges from lawmakers who think the governor doesn't have the authority to make those decisions.

Trump Pitches His Tax Plan To PA Truckers

Oct 12, 2017
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

MIDDLETOWN, PA (WSKG) -- President Donald Trump took to the midstate to pitch his tax plan to a cheering crowd of blue-collar workers and conservative Pennsylvania politicians. 

He's selling the proposal as one that would boost the middle class and small businesses -- though many opponents say it would be a better deal for the rich. 

Karen DeWitt

New Yorkers have the power on Nov. 7 to decide whether some state officials convicted of a felony should be stripped of their pensions.

But the proposal would not apply to two former legislative leaders and several former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo who are accused of corruption.

The ballot proposition before voters on Election Day would allow a judge to determine whether a state official convicted of crimes like bribery or bid-rigging should lose all or part of their pension.

AP Photo/Allen Breed, File

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- In the wake of the shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured over 500, some lawmakers in Pennsylvania are pushing legislation that would ban certain gun modifications.

When gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers, he used a device called a bump stock to functionally turn his semi-automatic weapon into a deadlier automatic one.

Katie Meyer

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Governor Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that the Treasury is loaning money to cover the commonwealth's short-term expenses--including upcoming payments to public schools.

That was news to Treasurer Joe Torsella, who said the loan still isn't authorized and won't be until Wolf provides more details on how he plans to balance the state budget.

The loan in question has been a point of political tension.

Lindsey Lazarski / Keystone Crossroads

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- It has been several days since negotiations to balance Pennsylvania's months-late budget melted down, with Governor Wolf intervening with a partial funding plan of his own.

But a lot is still unknown about the commonwealth's fiscal future.

Short-term cash issues remain unresolved. And House and Senate Republicans have indicated it's an open question whether they'll try to resist Wolf's latest funding plan. 

Central New York Rep. John Kato (R-Camillus) opposed Republican Party bosses last week by voting against the proposed budget in the House. He was one of 18 Republican members of Congress who voted against the plan that passed on Thursday.

Katko says it ultimately shifts more costs to New Yorkers, and that’s not fair. He says those cuts that would hurt the state include reductions in Medicaid and SNAP programs, as well as transportation spending.

The tax overhaul plan proposed by President Donald Trump and now being considered in Congress would end the deduction on federal income tax forms for state and local property taxes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it would disproportionately harm New Yorkers, where property taxes are among the highest in the nation, and he’s taken opportunities at recent public events to make the case against the plan.

ALBANY (WSKG) - A new poll finds waning support for a constitutional convention in New York. The issue is on the ballot in November.

The Siena College poll finds that enthusiasm for a constitutional convention has dropped since the summer, with more people now saying they would vote against it, although a plurality still backs the idea.

AviatorDave / flickr

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- In the midst of this week's budget negotiation meltdown, House Republicans have managed to slide a piece of priority legislation through their chamber and on to Democratic Governor Tom Wolf's desk. 

It's a senate-approved human services bill that would ultimately create a work requirement for able-bodied people to get Medicaid benefits.

Wolf said he'll veto it--though the issue is likely to come up again.  

Marc Levy / AP Photo

HARRISBURG (WSKG) - The latest push to finish Pennsylvania's late, unbalanced budget has melted down. After several false starts, talks between House Democrats and Republicans dissolved into fights Wednesday over who's at fault for the chamber's inability to find consensus on a tax package. 

Meanwhile Governor Tom Wolf declared himself "done" playing games, and unexpectedly announced he'll balance a portion of the budget himself, by borrowing against future revenue from the state-controlled liquor industry.

Finger Lakes Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) says passing tighter gun control laws is not the way to respond to the Las Vegas shooting Sunday that left 59 people dead and hundreds injured. Some lawmakers are advocating for new measures after police revealed that the alleged shooter in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history had scores of weapons, but Reed says that approach only offers false security.

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