Ask the Governor – February 26, 2014 (AUDIO)

Ask the Governor is a monthly presentation of Radio PA and This is the program for February, taped on 2/26/14. Topics include a wrap up of the governor’s proposed budget plan including basic education spending, drilling proposals, higher education plans and pensions. The governor also fields a multitude of emails from listeners and web viewers on topics ranging from taxes and unemployment to gun laws and the minimum wage.

Click the player below to listen to the entire program.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 05.24.13

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Matt Paul discusses new legislation that would create letter grades (A – F) for all of the state’s public schools, and examines a new law designed to expand community health clinics in the state.  Also, have you ever wanted to actually see your doctor’s notes?  Many Geisinger patients are alreading doing it.

Please have a happy & safe Memorial Day weekend, and remember to take some time to consider the true meaning of the holiday.

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:

PA School Districts

Should Pennsylvania Schools Get Report Cards Too?

Schools have always issued report cards grading our students, but new legislation would require the state to issue report cards grading our schools too.  Under HB 1300, schools and school districts would receive a letter grade – A through F – every year.

“Coupled with providing options in education, providing this data to parents just really empowers them to get involved and make those decisions about their child’s education,” explains Ashley DeMauro, state director of StudentsFirst. “So I think as long as we’re empowering parents, obviously, it will have a positive impact.”

All public schools would be subject to the proposed new grading system, including charters and cyber charter schools. 

DeMauro says the letter grades would be based on multiple data measures, including students’ test scores and schools’ progress in closing achievement gaps.  The state already generates the data, but DeMauro recognizes that it’s often difficult to analyze.  She believes a school report card would paint a clear picture for parents, students and taxpayers. 

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) says the group has not conducted a thorough analysis of HB 1300, but suggests it would be unnecessary based on work the state is already doing to implement the PA School Performance Profile website.  DeMauro, however, says the bill was actually crafted to enhance the forthcoming SPP. 

In an email, the state Department of Education press secretary tells Radio PA the governor has been a supporter of making sure that parents understand the quality of the schools their children attend.  “The Governor would like to have a system that is easily understandable to all Pennsylvania families.  The administration will review this proposal,” the statement concludes.  

This is not a new issue, conceptually, but it is the first time such legislation has been introduced in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly.  The bill was just introduced this month and has been referred to the House Education Committee.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 02.07.13

This week, on a special edition of Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman & Matt Paul break down key portions of Governor Tom Corbett’s budget address, including plans for education, pension reform and road & bridge funding.

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:

PA School Districts

Corbett Budget Gets Mixed Reviews from Advocates for Children

While the state’s largest teacher’s union says the Governor’s budget fails students again,  another group sees signs of encouragement.  Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children says the budget begins to restore some cuts to core programs.

CEO Joan Benso says they were pleased to see increases for Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance.  She says it’s a turn in direction, indicating the Governor wants to make some important investments in children.

Benso is also encouraged by additional funding to do outreach for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  She says the state has seen its child population in Medicaid decline.

The budget also calls for 90 million more for basic education, but Wythe Keever, a spokesman for  the Pennsylvania State Education Association, says that doesn’t begin to fill the hole created since Governor Corbett took office.

Keever is not impressed with the administration’s argument that it inherited an education budget backfilled with one-time federal stimulus money.  He says budgeting is about choices and the Governor chose not to replace the stimulus funding.

Keever adds that the governor’s pension reform proposal asks teachers and other public employees to shoulder the burden, when they didn’t create the problem with the pension system.  He says new employees would be paying more for a lesser benefit.

The Association is not a fan of the governor’s proposal to privatize state liquor sales and create a four-year education grant program with the proceeds. Keever says the governor is proposing to spend money he doesn’t have yet.  He says privatization is far from a done deal; it’s been proposed many times over the last two decades in the General Assembly.

A privatization effort failed to get enough support for a vote in the last session and some lawmakers favor modernization instead.