PSU President Gets Pay Raise

After one year on the job, Penn State President Rodney Erickson is getting a 16% pay increase, which brings his annual salary to $600,000 dollars.  The pay raise is performance-based, and outgoing Trustees chair Karen Peetz says he’s done a tremendous job leading Penn State through a difficult year. 

“It is imperative that we have a strong, effective leader to ensure our future excellence,” Peetz said in a written statement.  “Rod Erickson is that leader.  His salary is in line with competitors and we are pleased to support his presidency.” 

Erickson plans to retire in June 2014, and a nationwide search for his replacement is about to get underway.  Peetz will be stepping down from her leadership post, to focus on her new position, but will remain a member of the board. 

Even with Erickson’s raise, he’s earning far less than his predecessor, and he will not be receiving any of the deferred compensation.

PA Budget Debate

Closing in on the Fiscal Cliff

The federal government is less than a month away from driving straight off the “fiscal cliff,” but U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) believes there’s still time to avoid it.  “The great dangers of the fiscal cliff are the massive tax increases that are scheduled to go into effect on January 1st,” Toomey told reporters on a recent conference call.  “If that were to happen, it would very likely throw the economy into a recession and cost us hundreds of thousands – if not over a million – jobs.”

Toomey is in the thick of Senate discussions, and has been meeting privately with Democratic Senators in an effort to broaden support for a plan he first put forward in last year’s Super Committee.  It would call for lower income tax rates for all – with limitations on deductions, loopholes and write-offs that will raise hundreds of billions of dollars in net revenue over time. 

Inaction will lead to rate hikes on income taxes, estate taxes, dividends and capital gains.  The White House says a median-income Pennsylvania family of four (earning $80,400) could see its income taxes rise by $2,200.  A 2-percentage point payroll tax cut would also expire.      

But that’s just the tax hike side of the equation.  The fiscal cliff also includes $1.2-trillion dollars in federal spending cuts over the next ten years. 

Professor David Passmore with Penn State’s Institute for Research in Training and Development crunched the numbers to see how sequestration alone would affect the Keystone State.  “Pennsylvania’s share would be in the order of 35 – 40,000 jobs; the loss of about $6-billion in total economic output; about $3.5-billion in industry sales; and about $2.1-billion in after tax personal income,” he explains to Radio PA.  The report was first published in Pennsylvania Business Central.   

Like Toomey, Passmore believes the “fiscal cliff” is the recipe for another tough recession.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 11.30.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Matt Paul breaks down the sweeping recommendations of Pennsylvania’s Task Force on Child Protection. He’ll also be jointed by Radio PA Sports Director Rick Becker to look back at an unprecedented season of Penn State football, and learn how budget cuts are affecting the state’s nonprofit sector.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Wagner Releases Special Report on Penn State Governance

Nearly four months after he first went public with his preliminary recommendations, Auditor General Jack Wagner has released a 124-page special report on governance at Penn State University.  It includes nine chapter and two-dozen recommendations. 

“No matter what the board may say, in terms of changes they’ve made, very little structural government changes have occurred,” Wagner said at a state capitol news conference.  “It’s pretty much the same operation that existed on November 4th, 2011, the day before Jerry Sandusky was arrested.” 

Chief among Wagner’s recommendations is his call for the university president to be removed as a voting member of the Board of Trustees.  “Penn State has invested too much power, almost unlimited power – and I repeat – almost unlimited power in its president.”  Wagner declined to comment about the charges recently filed against ex-Penn State president Graham Spanier.

Other recommendations contained in the special report include: making the governor a non-voting member of the board, reducing the size of the 32-member board, strengthening quorum rules for the board and subjecting PSU the state’s open records law. 

Following Wagner’s news conference, a Penn State spokesman provided us with this statement: Penn State welcomes input from Auditor General Wagner.  The University only just received the report today but will conduct a thorough review.   

About half of Wagner’s recommendations would require legislative action; the other half would require changes to Penn State’s bylaws.  


Fans, Coaches, Players Fired Up for PSU vs. OSU

They’re all big games to first year Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien, but even he acknowledges things will be a bit different this Saturday evening.  “For me to sit up here and say it’s not a big game, you know, that’s crazy,” O’Brien said during Tuesday’s media availability.  “This is Ohio State.” 

The Buckeyes are a perfect 8 – 0 so far this year; Penn State is undefeated in Big Ten action (5 – 2 overall).  Neither school is eligible to play post season football this year, however, due to NCAA sanctions.  That twist appears to be making Beaver Stadium and even bigger stage when the two proud programs clash Saturday evening on national TV. 

A record crowd of students has been camping out in “Nittanyville” since Monday night, a phenomenon that has not gone unnoticed by Coach O’Brien.  “That’s just what this place is all about.  A student body that works hard in the classroom, supports their football team, and all their athletic teams.” 

O’Brien is calling on fans to arrive early, to wear white and to be loud (but respectful) throughout the entire game. 

“For all of our seniors, it’s our last WhiteOut, our last time to go out here in front of a WhiteOut crowd and the last time we’ll play Ohio State,” says senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill.  “In my opinion it’s the biggest game for us.” 

A limited number of tickets remains for the 5:30pm game.

Jerry Sandusky is currently locked up in the Centre County Correctional Facility. He will appeal the conviction.

Sandusky Seeks New Trial

Attorneys for Jerry Sandusky have filed post-trial motions seeking a new trial.  They’ve added Philadelphia attorney Norris Gelman to the defense team.

The filing in Centre County Court raises questions of insufficient evidence, insufficient time to prepare the defense and claims the statute of limitations had expired on some of the charges against the former Penn State assistant football coach.

Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts of child sex abuse involving 10 boys. He was  sentenced to serve 30 to 60 years in jail earlier this month.

Sandusky has maintained his innocence.

At Least 25% of PSU Fine Will Stay in State

The NCAA has tapped a task force to figure out how to administer the endowment fund to be created with a record $60-million dollar fine levied against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.  The NCAA sanctions called for that money to be used to fund programs that help to prevent child sexual abuse and treat its victims. 

The NCAA indicates that at least 25% will be reserved for Pennsylvania organizations.  It’s a good start, according to state House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny), but not good enough. 

Frank Dermody

“We have issues in Pennsylvania.  We’ve had budget cuts for programs that work with victims of child abuse and we should keep that money,” Rep. Dermody tells Radio PA.  “That money should stay in Pennsylvania to help fund those programs.” 

Penn State forwarded the NCAA the input it received regarding the endowment.  “The NCAA has determined that at least one quarter of the annual disbursements from the endowment will be reserved for Pennsylvania organizations.  However, recognizing that child sexual abuse is a national issue, the NCAA has determined that grants from the endowment will be available in other states as well,” PSU President Rodney Erickson said in a statement.   

The ten member NCAA task force includes two Pennsylvanians: Nan Crouter of Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, and Craig Hillemeier of the Penn State College of Medicine.  It will be chaired by the chancellor of the University of California, Riverside. 

While Dermody doesn’t know much about the non-Pennsylvania task force members, he believes they are highly qualified.  “So I hope they see that it’s the right thing to do to make sure that Pennsylvania’s children are taken care of.”

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 08.31.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul remind you to pay that state sales tax when purchasing items online, as the state focuses on stricter enforcement of the existing law; also on this Labor Day weekend, you’ll hear the results of the “State of Working Pennsylvania” report; and we’ll give you a sneak peek into the new Joe Paterno biography that hit the book stores this week.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


The Focus Finally Shifts to Football, But Uncertainty Remains

It’s been an unprecedented off-season for the Penn State football program, but trials, memorial services and NCAA sanctions give way to actual football this Saturday as the Nittany Lions open their 2012 season against Ohio University.

While the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal will still be on everyone’s minds, and reminders of child sex abuse victims will be evident everywhere at Beaver Stadium including on the players’ uniforms, for three hours this weekend Penn State fans can once again focus on the game they love. Many things have, of course, changed since the last time Penn State took the field. Legendary Head Coach Joe Paterno passed away in January and the team is operating under harsh sanctions imposed by the NCAA.

New Head Coach Bill O’Brien is the man being asked to pick up the pieces of a broken football program. He has drawn rave reviews for his handling of a difficult situation at Penn State so far. Fans, school officials, and even the governor of Pennsylvania, have remarked at how well O’Brien has taken the reins, but no one knows yet if the New England Patriots’ former Offensive Coordinator can win on the field as a Head Coach.

Fans get their first taste of the new era of Penn State football at noon on Saturday.



Consortium Envisions ‘Tech Belt’ in PA, OH and WV

Pennsylvania is part of the pilot program for a proposed national network of manufacturing institutes.  The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMMII) is a public-private partnership that spans PA, Ohio and West Virginia.  The Department of Defense is putting up $30-million dollars to help fund the institute; another $40-million dollars is coming from a broad base of consortium members.

Additive manufacturing is a high-tech process that produces items directly from a 3D digital model.  “Rather than the traditional way of taking a block of material and subtracting material away where you don’t want it, additive manufacturing is a layered process that puts the material where you do want it,” says acting NAMMII director Ralph Resnick.

Eight Pennsylvania universities and community colleges are a part of the consortium, including Penn State.  “The concept is to try to utilize universities and industry together to try to advance technical issues and barriers that are impeding manufacturing from being competitive in this marketplace,” says Wayne Figurelle, director of industrial innovation programs for the College of Engineering at Penn State.

Resnick and Figurelle tell Radio PA that the Department of Defense is especially interested in additive manufacturing because it’s cost-effective, mobile, and allows for production in limited quantities.

Resnick expects big things if they can harness the energy of the 40-companies, 9-research universities, 5-community colleges and 11-nonprofits who are participating in the pilot project.  “We not only hope to create jobs, but we hope to create region that is similar to the Silicon Valley for electronics or the Research Triangle in North Carolina.”

NAMMII is the first of what President Barack Obama has proposed as a billion dollar network of 15-manufacturing institutes.  Expansion of the program would require congressional approval.