2012 School Readiness Report Finds Stagnation in PA

Little or no progress has been made in several key areas of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children’s annual School Readiness report.  For instance, 41.6% of Pennsylvania children age four and under are living in low-income households today.  That’s roughly the same as last year.    

Another area of stagnation is children’s health insurance.  About 5.2% of children age four and under currently lack it, compared to some 5% in the previous year. 

This is the first year that county-specific data on school readiness has been made available. 

PPC spokesman Mike Race says Pennsylvania cannot defer investments in young learners.  “A child only has one window of opportunity when they’re three or four years old,” Race says.  “If we don’t take advantage of that window of opportunity… it’s lost forever.”

Pennsylvania did make progress in a few areas in the 2012 report, as thousands more Pennsylvania children are receiving early intervention services and high-quality child care.

Pennsylvania Lottery

Another Step toward Private Management of the Pennsylvania Lottery

The Corbett administration is taking the next steps toward a Private Management Agreement (PMA) for the Pennsylvania Lottery.  Late last week the state announced the terms for a potential PMA, which include profit commitments for 20-years that would ensure growth in the programs that benefit the state’s senior citizens. 

“We are looking to privatize.  The final decision hasn’t been made yet, because we have to wait for bids and see how the bids turn out,” Governor Tom Corbett said at an unrelated event. 

“If I find that it’s going to cause us to lose money, are we going to do it?  No.” 

Pennsylvania Lottery net revenues increased by more than 10% last year and many legislative Democrats question any move toward privatization when the Lottery is producing record profits.  “No corporate operator can guarantee the same low overhead costs, and ever future dollar that goes to a private management company is a dollar taken away from critical senior programs like PACE, shared rids and rent rebates,” says House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny).    

The other terms laid out for a potential PMA include $150-million in collateral, the responsible implementation of monitor and Internet-based games and a provision that ensures ownership and control of the Lottery is retained by the Commonwealth.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 11.09.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul recap Election Night in Pennsylvania, and preview the potential conflict between Attorney General-Elect Kathleen Kane and Governor Tom Corbett.  Also, you’ll hear their experiences covering this past week’s scheduled execution, which was stayed at the 11th hour.  It would have been the state’s first execution since 1999.

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:


Hubert Michael Avoids Thursday Execution

Hubert Michael, Junior, who was convicted for the brutal 1993 murder of a 16-year old girl in York County, sat in Rockview State Prison in Centre County last night as his death warrant expired. Last night’s scheduled execution was headed off by a stay issued by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier in the day which was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court just hours before the death warrant expired at midnight.

Even after the Thursday afternoon stay was issued, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections officials continued to prepare for the execution while the state filed an emergency appeal. Michael was transported to the state prison at Rockview early Thursday morning and became “somewhat emotional” during the trip, according to Corrections officials. Once at Rockview, Michael refused a final meal, met with his attorney and his spiritual advisor, read a newspaper, listened to the radio and waited. He was quiet and polite throughout the day according to Department of Corrections spokesperson Susan McNaughton.

Outside the prison, a small group of protesters braved the chill of a November evening. Kathleen Lucas of the group Pennsylvanians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty said she traveled to Rockview because she opposed the state committing murder in her name. Lucas wants Pennsylvania to abolish the death penalty in favor of life sentences for murder. Another protester, a Penn State freshman, called Hubert Michael a “victim.”

Michael was convicted of the murder of 16-year old Trista Eng of Dillsburg. Prosecutors proved that Michael picked Eng up along the side of a road as she was walking to work in 1993. He took her to a remote area where she was shot three times. Prosecutors said there was also evidence of sexual assault. The body was dumped on state game lands near Dillsburg. The remains were discovered after Michael confessed the killing to his brother. The only motive uncovered involved Michael’s anger at being charged with rape in another unrelated case. He chose Eng at random, according to authorities who investigated the case.

The decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the stay was announced just a few hours before midnight. Until that point, Corrections officials said that the execution could begin as late as 11:59pm. It was originally scheduled for 7:00pm before the stay was issued early in the afternoon.

A new death warrant will have to be issued after the latest round of court battles is fought.


Michael Execution on Hold, But State Files Emergency Appeal

The legal wrangling isn’t over yet in tonight’s scheduled execution of Hubert Michael Junior. Earlier today, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of execution.  But the State Attorney General’s office has filed an emergency appeal with the U. S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn the stay. The death warrant is still valid until midnight if the high court intervenes.

Michael was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the 1993 murder of 16-year-old Trista Eng in York County.  He arrived at Rockview State Prison this morning. Prison officials say he has been quiet and polite.

If the execution were to be carried out, Michael would be the first death row inmate to die by lethal injection since 1999.

Democrats Sweep State Row Offices

For the first time, Pennsylvania Democrats have swept the three state row offices on election night. Kathleen Kane has been elected Attorney General; Eugene DePasquale will be the next Auditor General; and Treasurer Rob McCord was re-elected to a second term.

Kane’s victory is particularly historic. She becomes not only the first Democrat to be elected Attorney General since it became an elected office in 1980, but also the first woman selected for the post by voters. Two women have served as Attorney General, but both were appointed, including Linda Kelly who is currently serving out the remaining term of Tom Corbett.

DePasquale defeated fellow State Representative John Maher to become Auditor General and McCord bested Republican challenger Diane Irey Vaughan in the Treasurer’s race.

URGENT – Casey Wins Re-Election to U.S. Senate

Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey has won re-election to the U.S. Senate, winning a second 6-year term in Washington. Casey defeated Republican challlenger Tom Smith.

Smith largely funded his own campaign, spending millions of his own money, outspending Casey by an estimated 2-to-1 margin.