Pattye Benson

Community Matters

State Rep. Warren Kampf

PA State Rep Warren Kampf provides update to constituents on budget compromise

The Pennsylvania budget stalemate has drug into its fifth month but information has now emerged about a possible compromise. State Rep Warren Kampf provided an update via email yesterday which contained the following budget highlights:

  • The plan is reported to contain $350 million in new education funding. What that would mean to Phoenixville, Spring-Ford or Tredyffrin-Easttown is not yet defined. However, each school district would receive some additional funding over last year.
  • There is an historic and significant reform for public employee pensions. The plan that is being offered as a compromise would, among other things, put new hires into a “hybrid” defined benefit/defined contribution plan; this reform is estimated to save $10 billion over time.
  • There is also some form of liquor privatization/reform being offered as part of the plan.
  • Lastly, some of the gaming revenues (approximately $600 million per year as of this writing) could be used to help off-set the spiraling state pension liabilities.

As you may have read there are also significant shifts in tax policy and revenue enhancements:

  • This proposal is said to contain as much as a 21 percent increase in the sales tax (from 6 percent to 7.25 percent) with the revenue raised providing dollar-for-dollar school property tax reductions for all private homeowners (commercial and rental properties will see no relief.) It is reported to reduce property tax bills by 20 percent to 35 percent. Also included will be some kind of a voter referendum requirement for any new school property tax increases.
  • A 75 cent per pack cigarette tax increase is in the plan.

Some of these proposals in the budget compromise need to be supported – increased educational funding for school districts and pension reform. Yes on both accounts.

The state’s pension system is unsustainable and pension reform is essential for the future of school districts statewide. Legislation to reform the state’s two underfunded pension systems has been a focus for Kampf since he took office. Maybe pension reform’s time has finally come and some kind of hybrid plan will be included in the state’s final budget.

The resurrection of legislation to privatize the state’s liquor system has emerged as part of the budget discussion. Rather than closing the state stores, legislators are floating the compromise suggestion to expand the hours of the existing stores as well as permitting wine to be sold by beer distributors, grocery stores, etc. (Allowing Wegmans to sell wine makes this a winner suggestion in my book.)

On the tax and revenue side of the budget, a tax increase for cigarettes has my full support but I cannot imagine any PA school board members supporting the a voter referendum requirement for school property tax increases. It’s obvious what would happen if you left the decision to taxpayers whether or not they wanted a property tax increase.

As for hiking the state’s sales tax from its current 6 percent up to 7.25 percent with the added revenue going toward reducing property taxes — ?? For property owners, a reduction of 20 – 35 percent in the property tax bill is very appealing, but what about the non-property owners, they certainly don’t gain anything. Is the property tax reduction worth the higher retail tax at the cash register? The proposed rise in sales tax would make Pennsylvania the second highest US sales tax, right behind California’s 7.5 percent.

Personally, I’d like to know what happened to the natural gas severance tax in this budget. The drilling continues and yet another year passes without an extraction tax.

According to his email, Kampf states he has “…not made any commitments to vote for or against the framework. Without all the details it would be foolish to make such commitments. “ Kampf says that there’s the proposed budget plan does not contain severance or extraction tax on the natural gas drillers and that he would be open to such a tax.

Rep. Kampf would like to hear from his constituents regarding the proposed budget compromise. There’s a short 15 question online survey – click here for the link. Or you can call his office, 610.251.2876 to offer your views on the proposed budget.

The story behind Tredyffrin Township blue & white appreciation signs for police

Most of the political campaign signs have now disappeared from lawns and public areas. However, in their place, you may have noticed the blue and white lawns sign which have appeared throughout the township with the words, “Thank You Tredyffrin Police … We Honor You”.

Tredyffrin Township police signs

Without a ‘sponsored by’ indication on the appreciation signs, it was unclear what organization or individual(s) was behind the signs. With a little investigation, I tracked down the background story and can report that the public display of support for our local police department began with the efforts of township resident Rich Sherwin and his wife Donna of Malvern.

I spoke with Rich Sherwin and he explained that the project started over his concern for the negative portrayal of police officers in the country. As a result, Sherwin wanted to show his appreciation for the local Tredyffrin Township Police Department. During a meeting with several Tredyffrin police officers, Sherwin thanked the officers for their service and asked if there was anything the department needed.

Citing township budget cuts and the elimination of two officers, Sherwin was told that the police department was somewhat shorthanded. Sherwin noted that the officers were not complaining and were supportive of the supervisor’s efforts in keeping the tax base low.

Sherwin learned of the following department needs from the Tredyffrin police officers:

  • Drug sniffing dog (cost $10,000) – the police cited the increasing drug situation in the township
  • Motorcycle (cost $25,000) – to help with monitoring the new township trails
  • Video cams (cost $300/ea., 40 officers = total $12,000)

Following the meeting with the township police, Sherwin sent a letter to neighbors and friends, explaining the details (above) and the designation of November 14 – 23 as Tredyffrin Police Appreciation Week.

With the help of State Rep. Warren Kampf, a committee was formed and the Sherwin’s kicked off the program with a $1,000 donation. In hopes of funding a drug sniffing dog as the committee’s first donation to the police, Sherwin’s appeal letter to residents suggested a donation of homeowners of $100 – $1,000 with checks to be made to ‘Tredyffrin Township Police Activity Fund’. According to Sherwin, the fundraising efforts have raised over $11,000 to date and all checks have been turned over the Tredyffrin Township Police Department.

Beyond making a financial contribution or displaying the blue and white support police signs, there are other ways to show your support. The ‘True Blue Community Tree Lighting’ ceremony tree lighting ceremony is set for Saturday, November 14 at Malvern Federal Bank in Paoli to kick off the police appreciation week – all residents are invited to attend. See poster below for other ways to participate:

Tredyffrin Township Appreciation Week

I attended the True Blue Community tree lighting tonight. Well attended by residents and police, State Rep Warren Kampf led the brief ceremony with a moment of silence for the Paris victims and their families. As the US and the world morns together over this latest senseless act of terrorism, there was something very moving to see the blue lights and the American flag tonight.

Thank you to the Tredyffrin Township police officers and first responders the world over … tonight our thoughts are with the victims and their families in Paris.

Police tree lighting

Police tree lighting Giaimo

On School Voucher Question, State Rep Kampf offers a ‘Wait and See Approach’

On Thursday, March 3, I emailed State Rep. Warren Kampf in regards to the proposed school voucher legislation. I followed up my email with a telephone call to his Paoli office on March 7. At that time, his chief of staff, Sean Dempsy spoke with Rep. Kampf re my email and offered that Rep. Kampf would have a response to me by the end of the week. Here is an excerpt from my email to our State Representative, which I posted on Community Matters last week:

“ . . . There has been much discussion about the proposed school voucher bill S.B.1. which would help the state’s poorest children from the lowest-performing schools by providing options of attending public, private or parochial school. This week the Senate Education Committee voted 8-2 in favor of the bill and the proposed legislation will move forward in the process.

It is important for constituents to know where our elected officials stand on all important issues, including the school voucher program. State Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) serves on the Senate Education Committee and voted in favor of the proposed school voucher legislation. As our State Representative, could you please offer your thoughts on the proposed ‘opportunity scholarship’ legislation? In your response, please address specific issues including the plan’s estimated price tag of $860 million, the constitutionality of the proposed legislation and the issue of funding parochial schools with taxpayer money.”

Rep. Kampf did not respond to my email. At 5 PM today, I received an email from Dempsey referring me to the State Rep’s website to read his position on school choice . . . Rep. Kampf’s “wait and see approach” (see below).

Kampf Praises Creative Solutions, Cautious on ‘School Choice’

By Rep. Warren Kampf, 157th District

Competition is critical to the efficiency of any enterprise, whether it is businesses competing for consumers by becoming more cost-effective or schools improving their teaching methods to lure students. There is a place for competition in our education system.

But before we adopt any so-called “school choice” proposal, we must examine whether the new system costs the state and school districts more money or subsidizes inefficient private schools.

At this stage, I am taking a wait and see approach. As for Senate Bill 1, it is difficult to comment on a bill that will be significantly transformed by the time it reaches the House. As is the case with another “school choice” bill, House Bill 240, I expect the legislature to pass numerous amendments to alter its rules and scope, though in what way I cannot yet predict.

I will just restate my position that whatever new system is tried, it should be done in a way that improves the overall quality of our state education system, and does not drive up costs for taxpayers and already cash-strapped schools without some very clear, tangible benefits to all of our children.

I remain open to creative ideas for improving Pennsylvania’s public school system. I am aware that the system works well in some districts, and is more troubled in others. It is my goal to embrace what works and fix what needs improvement.

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