Public Wants More Transit Funding, Officials Say

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amid state and federal wrangling over transportation funding, transit leaders meeting in Center City said growing public support should mean more money for trains, buses, and subways.

“The people of the nation are way ahead of some of their elected leaders,” Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said Monday, citing a new survey for the American Public Transportation Association that showed 74 percent of respondents supported using tax dollars to “create, expand and improve public transportation.”  That was up from 69 percent last year.

In Washington and Harrisburg, lawmakers are debating how to pay for mass transit as well as highways and bridges.  Transit agencies, which typically get at least half of their budgets from taxpayers, are lobbying for increases to replace outdated equipment and vehicles and to bring derelict systems into a state of good repair.

A vote is expected this week in the Pennsylvania state Senate on a transportation-funding bill that would increase the gas tax on wholesalers (who likely would pass it on to motorists at the pump), and raise most vehicle fees and fines for traffic violations.  The measure would produce about $2.5 billion in additional transportation funding after three years, according to its sponsor, Senate transportation chairman John Rafferty (R., Montgomery).

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130604_Public_wants_more_transit_funding__officials_contend.html#Ygr2fvsOhvgMWo0W.99

Postal Service Is On Its Last Legs, With Little Help In Sight

English: U.S. Post Office Lincoln Branch in Ma...

English: U.S. Post Office Lincoln Branch in Madison Township near Mansfield, Ohio. This United States Postal Service branch closed its doors at 4:30 p.m. on Friday February 11, 2011 due to the fiscal crisis that the United States Postal Service is in as of 2010-2011 and the drastic decline in mail volume. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — With a wide grin and a quick step, letter carrier Kenny Clark brings more than the day’s mail to the people on his route in suburban Maryland.

Clark, 49, greets nearly everyone he sees by name. He puts packages under eaves on overcast days to keep them dry, reminds people to retrieve keys they might have left in keyholes, and shouts a quick “You OK?” at the doors of seniors.

“He’s a neighborhood icon — him and his truck,” said Amy Dick, who lives on Clark’s route.

But his future, and that of the U.S. Postal Service, is in doubt. The Postal Service lost $1.9 billion between January and March, and $15.9 billion last year. The 238-year-old institution loses $25 million each day, and has reached its borrowing limit with the federal Treasury. Daily mail delivery could be threatened within a year, officials say.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/la-na-postal-service-20130528,0,4812985.story

Philly To NYC In 40 Minutes?

English: Map of Northeast, Keystone, and Empir...

English: Map of Northeast, Keystone, and Empire corridors, federally designated high-speed rail corridors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Obama administration will weigh 15 alternatives for improved passenger rail service between Boston and Washington, ranging from modest upgrades to a new high-speed Northeast Corridor that would allow trips between Philadelphia and New York City in about 40 minutes.

The 15 “preliminary alternatives” were unveiled Tuesday by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The FRA plans to come up with a single “preferred alternative” by mid-2015, complete with cost estimates and possible construction schedules.

The goal is to lay out a feasible plan for investing in the nation’s busiest rail corridor through 2040, with proposals for updated equipment, more trains, new stations and possible new routes.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130402_Various_visions_for_Northeast_Corridor.html#ixzz2PLaQhVws 
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House Republicans Balk At Deal; Fiscal Cliff Coming

WASHINGTON — Last-minute efforts to step back from the “fiscal cliff” ran into trouble on Tuesday as Republicans in the House of Representatives balked at a deal that would prevent Washington from pushing the world’s biggest economy into a recession.

House Republicans complained that a bill passed by the Senate in a late-night show of unity to prevent a budget crisis contained tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans but no spending cuts.  Some conservatives sought to change the bill to add cuts.

That would set up a high-stakes showdown between the two chambers and risk a stinging rebuke from financial markets that are due to open in Asia in a few hours.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-fiscal-cliff-reuters-20130101,0,6257078.story

Senate Approves “Fiscal Cliff” Deal, Crisis Eased

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate moved the U.S. economy back from the edge of a “fiscal cliff” on Tuesday, voting to avoid imminent tax hikes and spending cuts in a bipartisan deal that could still face stiff challenges in the House of Representatives.

In a rare New Year’s session at around 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT), senators voted 89-8 to raise some taxes on the wealthy while making permanent low tax rates on the middle class that have been in place for a decade.

But the measure did little to rein in huge annual budget deficits that have helped push the U.S. debt to $16.4 trillion.

The agreement came too late for Congress to meet its own deadline of New Year’s Eve for passing laws to halt $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts which strictly speaking came into force on Tuesday.

Read more:  http://www.nbr.com/news/story?id=tag%3Areuters.com%2C0000%3Anewsml_BRE8A80WV#.UOMJA-TAdcz

Americans Will Feel Paycheck Pinch As Payroll Tax Break Ends In January

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama isn’t talking about it and neither is Mitt Romney. But come January, 163 million workers can expect to feel the pinch of a big tax increase regardless of who wins the election.

A temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes is due to expire at the end of the year and hardly anyone in Washington is pushing to extend it. Neither Obama nor Romney has proposed an extension, and it probably wouldn’t get through Congress anyway, with lawmakers in both parties down on the idea.

Even Republicans who have sworn off tax increases have little appetite to prevent one that will cost a typical worker about $1,000 a year, and two-earner family with six-figure incomes as much as $4,500.

Why are so many politicians sour on continuing the payroll tax break?

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/10/social_security_tax.html

Social Security Worth Higher Tax, Most In Poll Say

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...

Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON – Most Americans say go ahead and raise taxes if it will save Social Security benefits for future generations.  And raise the retirement age, if you have to.

Both options are preferable to cutting monthly benefits, even for people who are years away from applying for them.

Those are the findings of a new Associated PressGfK poll on public attitudes toward the nation’s largest federal program.

Social Security is facing serious long-term financial problems.  When given a choice on how to fix them, 53 percent of adults said they would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for future generations, according to the poll.  Just 36 percent said they would cut benefits instead.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411559

General Dynamics To Lay Off One-Quarter Of Workers At Scranton Munitions Plant

General Dynamics will lay off about one-quarter of the workers at its Scranton munitions plant by the end of the year.

The defense conglomerate, which is based near Washington, D.C., reported it will reduce its workforce from 245 to 185 in three increments between October and December. The 60 layoffs will take place as work is completed on two contracts for production of 120mm mortar shell bodies, said Laurie Van Brocklin, a General Dynamics spokeswoman.

“We regret the impact that the action has on employees,” Ms. Van Brocklin said. “We are hopeful, with successful bids on mortar bodies contracts, that we will be able to rectify that.”

The layoffs will leave the 500,000-square-foot plant with fewer than half the employees it had when General Dynamics acquired it six years ago.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/general-dynamics-to-lay-off-one-quarter-of-workers-at-scranton-munitions-plant-1.1359821

Open House At GoggleWorks Apartments This Weekend

After years of planning and more than a year of construction, the $16.7 million GoggleWorks Apartments are far enough along that its sponsor, retailer Albert R. Boscov, plans an open house Saturday and Sunday.

The open house will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Second and Washington streets complex named after the late state Sen. Michael A. O’Pake.

Essentially, it will be just one apartment.  The furniture is being set up this week.

And it won’t be handicap accessible, at least not yet.  The two elevators are off-limits to the public because the building is still under construction; visitors will have to climb a flight and a half of stairs.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=391320

Former PSU President Spanier Lands Job In National Security

Editor’s note:  Anybody else find this ironic?

Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier, who was forced from office in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, is working in Washington on a national security project.

A Penn State spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday that Spanier, who is listed in the university’s online directory as president emeritus, took on the project during a year-long sabbatical from his post as a tenured professor in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development.

“The project is an effort to continue to bridge the gap between our nation’s national security agencies and other entities,” said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-psu-graham-spanier-new-job-20120412,0,5217661.story

Mail Processing To End At 10 Pennsylvania Postal Service Sites

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...

Image via Wikipedia

United States Postal Service mail processing facilities in Altoona, Erie, Greensburg, Lancaster, New Castle, Reading, Scranton, Washington and Williamsport, as well as the Southeastern operation are slated to close.

Read entire article: http://www.ydr.com/state/ci_20029285

Wikipedia To Go Offline To Protest Anti-Piracy Legislation

Slobot with wikipedia founder jimmy wales

Image via Wikipedia

Most people probably haven’t paid much attention to the huge corporations waging war in Washington over legislation designed to crack down on online theft of movies, music and other content. But the conflict will hit consumers in the face Wednesday, when Wikipedia and a number of other websites intend to go dark to protest the proposed changes.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced Monday that the hugely popular online encyclopedia would be unavailable for 24 hours to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and related legislation, which opponents say could lead to censorship or the complete shutdown of some websites.

Wikipedia plans to join Reddit, Boing Boing and hundreds of other sites in the so-called SOPA Strike, an attempt to publicize their complaints about proposals supported by the movie and music industries and other media companies.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/la-fi-ct-wikipedia-20120117,0,2616794.story

Eagles Come Alive In Snooze-Fest With Redskins In 4th Qtr

What should have been a slam dunk of a game was an eeked out victory when the Eagles decided to finally show up and play the last half of the 4th quarter.  Some tougher competition coming up so people better start playing 100% from the opening kickoff.  What’s with the onside kicks????  Geeze Louise!  Weird decisions.

Eagles 27 – Skins 24