Editor’s note: I hope folks from the Pottstown School District follow this story. It’s a smaller version of Pottstown with many of the same issues!
Columbia’s public schools will reopen in late August, reverberating again with the clamor of children.
But overshadowing the back-to-school routine will be difficult questions.
Columbia is a tiny, high-poverty school district struggling to prepare kids for our fast-changing, technology-driven world.
The single-municipality district has the weakest tax base in Lancaster County and the second-highest proportion of needy children. Its taxes are the county’s highest and salaries the lowest. It has too many dropouts. Test scores are abysmal.
Cold-cuts maker Dietz & Watson will build a $50 million, 200,000 square-foot trucking and distribution center on a large tract between the company’s Tacony Street headquarters and the old Frankford Arsenal on the Delaware River, Gov. Corbett and Mayor Nutter confirmed this morning.
The deal was first reported from industry and city sources June 18 in The Inquirer.
The center will employ 110 who will pack and ship Dietz & Watson and Black Bear-brand meats and cheeses. Another 50 or more jobs will be created as the facility expands, Corbett said in a statement.
Pennsylvania’s economy stalled last year, according to a report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Pennsylvania’s real gross domestic product, an indicator of general economic conditions, grew just 0.7 percent in 2013. Only three states and Washington, D.C., saw slower growth.
Pennsylvania was also out-performed by its neighbors, West Virginia and Ohio, which saw 5.1 and 1.8 percent growth respectively. West Virginia has now outgrown Pennsylvania for six straight years, and Ohio has for two. Even struggling New Jersey beat out the Keystone State, posting 1.1 percent growth.
SEPTA railroad engineers and electrical workers went on strike early Saturday, halting commuter rail service in the Philadelphia region, after last-ditch efforts by federal mediators failed to break an impasse in the long-running labor dispute.
The strike shut down 13 Regional Rail lines that provide 60,000 passengers with 126,000 rides on a typical weekday. That promised to snarl already clogged highways with additional cars and to hamper commuters and their employers throughout the region.
Service on SEPTA’s buses, subways, trolleys and the Norristown High-Speed Line – which carry about 85 percent of SEPTA’s riders – were not affected.
Gov. Corbett was prepared to ask President Obama to quickly appoint a presidential emergency board to mediate the rail labor dispute. Under federal railroad law, the creation of such a board would compel the workers to return to the job for 240 days.
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage was overturned by a federal judge Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III called the plaintiffs — a widow, 11 couples and one of the couples’ two teenage daughters — courageous.
“We now join the 12 federal district courts across the country which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil,” Jones wrote.
Editor’s note: This is a more in-depth article than the one below with some excellent graphs and charts showing all 67 counties in Pennsylvania and what the impact of raising the minimum wage would mean by county. Well worth the read!
About one in five workers in Lancaster County would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a new study shows.
That 21 percent amounts to 49,099 workers here, according to the Keystone Research Center study.
The research is being cited by a labor and community coalition, Raise the Wage PA, which will hold a rally in Penn Square at noon Thursday.
Lancaster County rates somewhat worse than the statewide figure of 19 percent and the urban-area figure of 18 percent, says the study.
WILKES-BARRE, PA — At first, it sounds like a good new, bad news sort of thing.
The good news: According to a new report, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would help 21 percent of the Luzerne County workforce get better pay.
The bad news: One fifth of Luzerne County workers earn below or near the proposed new minimum of $10.10 an hour.
The numbers come from “Living on the Edge: Where Very Low-wage Workers Live in Pennsylvania,” issued by the Keystone Research Center this week. As part of a push to get Harrisburg to consider increasing the minimum, rallies were held around the state Thursday, including one on Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square.
All four Democrats running for governor want to get more revenue from natural gas drilling. But they have different plans for how to tax the extraction and what to do with the money.
All four want to raise the minimum wage, but they don’t all agree by how much.
When it comes to marijuana laws, they aren’t in lockstep either.
The May 20 primary will decide whether state environmental protection secretary Katie McGinty, state Treasurer Rob McCord, U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz or York County businessman Tom Wolf will get the Democratic nomination for governor.
It is out with the old and in with the new at the 500-acre waterfront facility formerly known as the Sunoco Marcus Hook Refinery, now the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex.
Workers last week ripped down aging petroleum-processing equipment, part of a labyrinth of machinery that has produced gasoline, diesel, and kerosene for more than a century. Other crews built cryogenic storage tanks more than 130 feet tall with three-foot-thick walls that will hold the future: new fuels from the prolific Marcellus Shale region.
Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., a pipeline company that bought the property for $60 million last year from its sister company, Sunoco Inc., is converting the site into a major center for processing and shipping natural gas liquids.
“We very much hope this is only the first step in this property,” said Jonathan Hunt, director of the complex. “We’re working on a lot of possible businesses. There’s a lot of opportunities here.”
MURRYSVILLE, PA (AP) – Flailing away with two kitchen knives, a 16-year-old boy with a “blank expression” stabbed and slashed 21 students and a security guard in the crowded halls of his suburban Pittsburgh high school Wednesday before an assistant principal tackled him.
At least five students were critically wounded, including a boy whose liver was pierced by a knife thrust that narrowly missed his heart and aorta, doctors said. Others also suffered deep abdominal puncture wounds.
The rampage – which came after decades in which U.S. schools geared much of their emergency planning toward mass shootings, not stabbings – set off a screaming stampede, left blood on the floor and walls, and brought teachers rushing to help the victims.
Police shed little light on the motive.
Pennsylvanians’ state and local tax burden reached its lowest point in more than a decade in 2011, but it still climbed to rank as the nation’s 10th most onerous, up two spots from the year before, an analysis released this week shows.
The Washington-based Tax Foundation said Pennsylvanians shelled out $4,374 per capita in state and local taxes in 2011, or 10.3 percent of their per-capita income of $42,268. About 10.5 percent of income went toward state and local taxes in 2010, the foundation said.
“This trend was largely driven by the growth of income,” said Tax Foundation economist Liz Malm, explaining the slight decline.
About 27 percent of Pennsylvanians’ tax money went to other states. Aside from sales, excise, income, corporate and other taxes paid in other states, the Tax Foundation factors what it calls tax exporting.
POTTSTOWN, PA — Borough property owners would be off the hook for generating more than $5 million in school funding this year if the state funding formula abandoned by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2010 were still in place, according to a report.
Further, as a result of that formula’s absence in calculating state education funding, Pottstown has lost more state aid in the past few years than almost any other district in Montgomery County, the report found.
At $2.5 million, only Norristown schools lost more in the last three years than the $1.5 million in state funding Pottstown has lost since 2010-11, the study found.
In an attempt to reverse the problems highlighted in that study, the Pottstown School Board on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Harrisburg to establish “a fair and equitable school funding formula.”
Republican legislators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are planning a coordinated effort to change the Delaware River Port Authority and alter its federal charter.
Bills will be introduced in Harrisburg and Trenton to prohibit economic-development spending by the DRPA, give Pennsylvania’s governor the same veto authority over DRPA actions now held by New Jersey’s governor, and require state Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to the DRPA board in Pennsylvania, as is now done in New Jersey.
The bills would also:
- Require a two-thirds majority of the board to approve any toll increases on the DRPA’s four toll bridges;
The Colebrookdale Railroad will benefit from $1.4 million in funding made possible by a PennDOT grant aimed at repairing and upgrading the line’s rails, equipment and infrastructure.
“Seventy percent of the funding was provided by the state and we had to raise the other 30 percent,” said Nathaniel Guest, president of the non-profit Colebrookdale Railroad Restoration Trust, which oversees the line.
The non-profit group has a for-profit subsidiary, Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad, which oversees the freight traffic and was the recipient of the grant.
The Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority is accelerating efforts to hire consultants so it can start accepting development applications in the summer.
The authority is tasked with implementing Bethlehem’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone, which is expected to create $587 million worth of development. Bethlehem received the state economic development designation late last year.
Similar to Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone, the zone allows state and local nonproperty taxes from new development in the zone to help finance construction within it.
HOW YOU feeling, Bunkie? Something got you down?
In the annual Gallup poll measuring Americans’ sense of well-being, also known as the happiness poll, Pennsylvania was No. 36 in 2013, down sharply from 29 the year before. (Thank you, Gov. Corbett?) Since Philadelphians are the single biggest geographic group of Pennsylvanians, our civic angst probably drags down the ranking.
We have a schools crisis and send in a hothead as a healer. Crime by criminals is down but crime by cops is up. Buildings collapse, water mains explode, the mayor adds deputy mayors and bike lanes. Poverty is up, employment is down, as are the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers. No wonder we’re not happy.
Do I hear laughter from across the river?
Built less than six years ago, a state-of-the-art flight operations control center in Moon will be closing and the work transferred to Texas, a casualty in the American Airlines-US Airways merger.
American Airlines announced Friday that it intends to consolidate flight operations in Dallas-Fort Worth over the next 18 months, costing the region a facility built specifically for the needs of US Airways and the 600 jobs that go with it.
“It’s pretty sad for the people that have been here for a long time,” said Danny Persuit, president of Transport Workers Union Local 545, which represents 164 employees at the center.
In a separate action, American also plans to transfer 53 mechanics out of Pittsburgh in what it said was an annual maintenance “rebalancing” unrelated to the merger.
The state’s $2.4 billion transportation funding law will enable the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to use its Rapid Bridge Replacement Project on at least 200 more bridges than originally planned.
The project that will reconstruct at least 500 structurally deficient bridges of similar design across the state involves PennDOT reaching out to the private sector to submit statements of qualification.
Erin Waters, a PennDOT spokeswoman, said those interested in bidding must submit their statements of qualifications to the agency by Jan.31.
Traditional merchants are suffering a 6 percent disadvantage over their Internet-only competitors this holiday season.
Though the Supreme Court recently affirmed the right of states to tax online purchases made by state residents, it really didn’t help small-business owners.
Online appliance sellers routinely boast they sell appliances free of sales tax and often offer free delivery on big-ticket items despite a requirement that Internet merchants collect the 6 percent sales tax on anything they sell for use in Pennsylvania, said Brian Sutton, part owner of Maidencreek TV & Appliance in Maidencreek Township.
“They do it all the time,” Sutton said. “We’ve been dealing with this for years.”