Corbett Rejects State Based Health Insurance Exchange For PA

— by Antoinette Krauss, Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network

The Affordable Care Act was written to give states the flexibility to operate their own state-based exchanges and be the innovators of health care reform. Regrettably, Governor Corbett chose to reject this opportunity and instead handed the development of this new marketplace to the federal government.

Either way, Pennsylvania families and small businesses will finally have access to quality, affordable coverage through this new marketplace on January 1st , 2014. Pennsylvania’s health insurance exchange will assure folks have high quality choices at affordable prices, and an easier time finding and purchasing coverage. It will bring stability, certainty and security to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

Through the establishment of this new marketplace, and by accepting the new federal funding to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults, Pennsylvania can cover up to 1 million residents who are uninsured today. The Affordable Care Act remains on track to bring security and peace of mind to Pennsylvania families.

We urge Governor Corbett to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop Pennsylvania’s Health Insurance Marketplace and to accept Federal dollars available to strengthen our current Medicaid program.

PA’s Tough Penalties For Handgun Straw Purchases

Last week, Governor Corbett signed a bill that will enforce tough minimum penalties for straw purchasers found guilty of buying more than one gun for people who can’t legally buy guns themselves. Groups like Ceasefire PA have lobbied for such a law to keep handguns out of the hands of convicted felons. This issue was addressed in the very first issue of the Phialdelphia Jewish Voice. For over a decade, the NRA’s allies in Harrisburg used obstructionist tactics to prevent this bill from coming up for a vote. However, after a series of massacres this position became politically untenable and the bill was able to move forward.

CeasefirePA continues to lobby for lost or stolen handgun reporting requirements. A reporting requirement would enforce responsibility for gun ownership before the guns can be used in a crime.  

New Voter Fraud Idiocy in Pennsylvania

Tom Corbett and Carol Aichele are at it again. They've launched a page on the PA Voter site so you can report voter fraud. It's even uglier than it sounds. You can click on it here, but before you do, be warned, if you do, Tom and Carol are going to track YOU!

Notice:  This website monitors and captures ISP information.  By visiting this site, you consent to such monitoring.

Right above that warning is information about your internet connection: where you are, your IP address and your area code. 

Here's what they're looking for: 

This online election complaint form is provided for registered voters in Pennsylvania to submit a complaint to the voter’s county board of elections and/or district attorney.  The site is managed by the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections in Pennsylvania.  However, the Department of State has no authority to investigate or prosecute alleged election law violations. 

Information submitted with this complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate authorities for possible use in future investigations and/or prosecutions.

So basically, they have no fraud here, they don't expect any, they won't go after anyone if there's some information provided, but they want you to look high and low and report it. 

Shameful. 

Stu Bykofsky Candidates’ Comedy Night, 2012

The 22nd  annual Stu Bykofsky Candidates’ Comedy Night, a benefit for Variety, the children’s charity, was held this evening at Finnegan’s Wake.   Since this is primarily a political blog I didn’t take notes on the speakers who aren’t running for office.  As always, this is not intended to be an exact transcript, just rough notes I took at the event.  It would be impossible to capture every joke, especially the longer, more involved story jokes, but I made an effort to provide some idea of each candidate’s routine.  

Photo: Steven M. Falk, Philly.com

Details after the jump.

Text implies a direct joke, notes in brackets are condensations or gists.  Actions or extraneous activities are in italics, as are candidates’ names.  Read your local newspapers for more exact accounts of the event.


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Tom Smith (R), candidate for Senate
Running against incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D).

[Tom Smith was brave enough to go first as a stand-up comedian.  He had a clever slide show which featured a head-shot of Smith added to all the slides of stock or iconic photos.]

I am new to politics and most people in Philadelphia aren’t familiar with me.  My father died when I was 20 and I had to look after the family so I couldn’t go to college but I sent my daughters.  [shows a slide of what he would have looked like if he had gone – his face superimposed on someone wearing a college tshirt holding a beer mug].  

My wife is with me, as you can see I let her get a new dress for the event [American Gothic painting with Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s photos in it].  

I worked in a coal mine [Smith’s face on the front of Thomas the Tank Engine, pulling a load of coal].  

I had big dreams [his face added to a picture of the Beverly Hillbillies].  My wife and I adopted four children so a family could stay together.  

People say I am a Tea Party candidate but there are a lot of things about me you don’t know [his face added to an Occupy Pittsburgh group photo].


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Rep. Bob Brady (D), PA 1st Congressional District

[Congressman Bob Brady told a couple of jokes which we can’t repeat here. He made Stu Bykofsky the butt (pardon the pun) of one a “pee and poop joke.”  Another jokee was about an attorney going to a brothel.]

Incumbents do comedy every day, make fools of ourselves every day.  This is for the kids.


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

[Senator Bob Casey appeared in shirt-sleeves!  He made fun of himself for being dull, quoting verbatim a front page New York Times article which talked about Casey’s galloping eyebrows as the way in which he registers excitement.]

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D), PA 13th Congressional District, sent a surrogate, Neil Deegan.

Top reasons Allyson can’t be here tonight:

  • Still at PennDOT waiting for her voter id card
  • Getting new copy of the Congressional ladies’ room key made for Kathy Boockvar
  • Prepping Mayfair office to hand over to Bob Brady
  • Painting bike lane in front of Stu’s house
  • Getting mani pedi with Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nancy Pelosi
  • Measuring drapes for Corbett’s office
  • Looking at Pat Toomey’s office
  • Needed a haircut for the DNC.

Photo: Bonnie Squires

Kathleen Kane (D), candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney-General
Running against David Freed (R)

[jokes about her Irish heritage and her hometown of Scranton]
[joke about thinking Finnegan’s Wake was an actual funeral wake]
[joke about doctors]

In Scranton the obituaries are the Irish social pages.  People clip them out and put then on the refrigerator.   They often have headlines, like “101 Year Old Woman Dies Unexpectedly.”

I took my son to an Eagles game.  We saw empty seats up front and moved up to them.  They were next to an older man.  He told us he and his wife had season tickets for years but she died a few days ago.  I asked if a family member didn’t want to come with him.  “Oh, no,” he said, “they’re at the funeral.”


Photo: Bonnie Squires

George Badey, Democratic candidate for 7th Congressional District

[George Badey, who was raised in South Philadelphia and is an avowed Mummer, had a very funny routine.  Badey is the Democrat running against Republican incumbent  Congressman Pat Meehan.]

[told “the neighborhood I grew up in was so tough” jokes – it is now in Brady’s district]

I went to high school in South Philly.  Pat Meehan went to the Chestnut Academy.

Chris Christie is in the hospital.  He has that flesh eating bacteria.  He only has 13 years to live.

Fidel Castro’s successor will be his idiot son, Fidel W. Castro.

Bill Clinton and the Pope died but there was a mix up and Clinton went up and the Pope went down.  When the mix up was fixed and the Pope was going up and Clinton down they passed and the Pope told Clinton he was looking forward to meeting the Blessed Virgin.  Clinton said “You just missed her.”


Photo: Bonnie Squires

David Freed (R), candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney-General
Running against Kathleen Kane (D).

Thanks to Kathleen Kane for picking up the tab.
I went to college with Cecily Tynan.
Fan of Philly sports teams [joke about the 1996 Phillies being bad team].

People say I am too close to Gov. Corbett – he wrote my jokes.  [fakes a phone call from Corbett].  

Hello, Governor?  
Yes, Risa Vetri Ferman’s here — she’s sitting right next to me.  
No, she still won’t run for Attorney General.

[joke about Ed Rendell telling people the statue of Billy Penn is of him]

[calls Daily News columnist John Baer a gossip columnist]

[Photo: Dave Freed seated with Montgomery County D.A. Risa Furman.]


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Kathy Boockvar (D), candidate for PA 8th Congressional District
Running against incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R).

I want to show that I can be funny on purpose and not just by accident.

I wanted to find a job more popular than being in Congress but the TSA didn’t have any opening and Elliott Spitzer already has a co-host.  

Things more popular than Congress right now:

  • Lawyers
  • Chick Fil A’s new branch at the Sea of
  • Gaililee
  • Paris Hilton
  • Porn
  • The IRS
  • Polygamy
  • The idea of being abducted by aliens
  • The oil industry
  • Bank of America
  • BP Oil during the Gulf oil spill

Photo: Bonnie Squires

John Featherman (R), candidate for PA 1st Congressional District
Running against incumbent Rep. Bob Brady (D).

[John Featherman was very funny with jokes about being Jewish and his “mixed marriage” to an Asian woman].  

Two Chinese people had a white baby but everyone knows two Wongs don’t make a white.

A union friend wanted to find a whorehouse where the prostitutes got to keep more of the money than the madam.  They finally found one and the union friend asked for a pretty young blonde but the proprietor said he had to take 62 year old Ethel, because of seniority rules.

Comedian Joe Conklin

Intermission with comedian Joe Conklin who told some good jokes and did impressions of political figures.  He also gave a shout out to the girls from Club Risque and said they were the only ones there with bigger [breasts] than Bob Brady.


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Rep. Pat Meehan (R), PA 7th Congressional District

[Congressman Pat Meehan, the Republican incumbent being challenged by Badey, also had a very funny routine.]

Stu thought the Variety Club was a dating service.

My opponent George Badey is a mummer.  He wants to go to Washington, wear satin pants, a feather boa and lipstick.  J. Edgar Hoover already did that.

Anthony Wiener got in trouble for sexting.  He was trying to decide whether or not to resign.  He was in, he was out, he was in, he was out, now he’s holding his own.  Bill Clinton oversaw Wiener’s wedding.  
When the scandal broke he called Clinton to apologize — for what, copyright infringement?

Three political figures were driving through Kansas and ended up in Oz.  [missed the name, possibly George W. Bush?] went looking for a heart, Joe Biden for a brain, and Bill Clinton said “Where’s Dorothy?”

There is an auction for a restaurant gift card which Emerald Capital bids more than the card is worth, then ups that bid when Stu includes a gift basket.


Photo: Bonnie Squires

Dr. Manan Trivedi (PA), candidate in PA 6th Congressional District
Running against incumbent Rep. Jim Gerlach (R).

When I ran in 2010 I spoke at this event and told a lot of jokes about being an Indian-American.  I won’t do that this year.  [fakes a telephone call and answers in stereotypic Indian accent] “Dell Technical Support.  This is … Mike …. In …. Kansas City.”  

My wife is from a very traditional family.  When they heard I wouldn’t be a full-time doctor while I am running for office they asked for three chickens back.

Jim Gerlach and Paul Ryan work out together — they practice their Atlas Shrugged poses.

[spelling bee joke]

Unlike Todd Akin, I know when my time is up.

Special guest, comedian Steve Young tells jokes

Congressman Jim Gerlach, Republican, 6th Congressional District, sent surrogate Kori Walter, district director.

Mitt Romney bet me $10,000 that I wouldn’t do this.

[He told several jokes that fell flat and asked if the audience was drinking enough.  As he left the stage Stu told him you never blame the audience if your jokes don’t get a laugh, always use self-deprecating humor.]

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, Republican, 8th Congressional District

[Fitzpatrick was taking two of his daughters to college this weekend and so wasn’t sure he would be able to attend; a surrogate, Andre [did not catch last name], was there just in case, but Fitzpatrick told his own jokes]

One night in Washington a robber held me up and said “give me all your money.”  I told him I was a Congressman and he said  “In that case give me all my money.”

Is Mitt Romney here tonight?  Coming in I thought I saw a car with a dog carrier on top.”

[discusses his Irish heritage, family from county next to Limerick.  Says Limerick known for a particular kind of poem.  Tells three.  One about Paul Ryan has a line “grandma just must go.”  One about Romney being robotic but “I saw him cry when he sold his 3rd yacht.”  The last one is about Obama and says he will be a judge on American Idol next year.]

Jim Foster, Independent candidate in 2nd Congressional District
Running against incumbent Rep. Chaka Fattah (D) and Robert Allen Mansfield, Jr. (R).

[Mostly talks about himself, jokes about Chaka Fattah, and says West Mt. Airy is Stepford on the Wissahickon]

Robert Mansfield, Republican candidate for 2nd Congressional District, sends surrogate Ned Green.
Running against incumbent Rep. Chaka Fattah (D) and Jim Foster.

[says he met Mansfield in the 1990’s on another political campaign, Mansfield was homeless then].  Says Mansfield isn’t there because he has a lot of injuries from being in Iraq and is seeing a brain specialist today.

Personal notes:
Smith, Casey, Schwartz/Deegan, Kane, Trivedi, and Boockvar did well.   I was surprised by the Republican candidates telling Romney/Paul jokes.  That seems unusual.

There were a lot of jokes/comments at Congressman Chaka Fattah’s expense.  That is because two years ago he was a presenter and gave an awful, mean-spirited rant.  He wasn’t there tonight.  This would have been an opportunity for him to do something self-deprecating and make a comeback but he didn’t.  (Hint:  There’s always the Star Trek, evil twin/goatee trick that Community has picked up on.)

It was nice to see two women on the stage.  Maybe one of these years Congresswoman Schwartz will join us in person?  Kathleen Kane’s routine had a homespun, Lake Woebegone feel to it.  Boockvar was a little edgier.

The girls from Club Risque paraded from one side of the room to the other about three times, which is the standard from the other years I’ve attended, but this year they were wearing clunky shoes and the sound was disruptive.  

Cross-posted from Above Average Jane. Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires.

JSPAN Joins Brief In Voter ID Case

JSPAN and nine other non-profit agencies joined in brief amicus curiae to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in the pending challenge to the “Photo ID Law” enacted in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

The case was launched by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Viviette Applewhite and other voters who will be burdened by the new law. Applewhite, a 93 year old voter who has never driven a car, cast her first vote for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. There appears to be no record of her at the Motor Vehicle Bureau. Because she was born in another state, there is no birth certificate on file in Pennsylvania either. Before she can vote again, the Photo ID Law would require her to produce a birth certificate or other specific documentation to an office of the Motor Vehicle Bureau to convince that agency to issue her photo identification.

Applewhite and thousands of others like her face serious difficulty under the Photo ID Law. For many elderly people, the need to travel to a motor vehicle bureau and document their entitlement to a photo ID is a significant burden. For many others, securing the necessary voter ID before election day will prove to be impractical or even impossible.

The amicus curiae brief reflects extensive research on the disparate impact of the law on several hundred thousand elder voters who do not have the specific current photo identification called for in order to vote. The right to vote, the amicus brief argues, is a sacred right and is the foundation of democracy, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated that free and equal elections, guaranteed by the state constitution, preclude registration requirements that are so difficult as to amount to a denial of the right to vote. By requiring a registered voter who has no driver’s license — or whose license has expired — to travel to a state office, provide a birth certificate or other specified documentation, and secure the specific photo ID — the law especially burdens and discriminates against the elderly.

For further perspective see The Los Angeles Times, and the amicus brief.

Defense of PA voter ID law crumbling

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In a document filed ahead of a hearing, Republican officials say “there have been no investigations of prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania” and that fraud would be unlikely to occur if the voter ID law was not in place. This contradicts earlier positions by the state’s governor.  Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach joins Rev. Al Sharpton with his response to the new evidence.

Double Billing: Paying For What Someone’s Already Paid To Do

Israel

Yesterday, Israel’s former Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was acquitted on double billing charges as not proven:

On trial for the last two years, Olmert was accused of allegedly paying for family vacations by double billing Jewish organizations through the Rishon Tours travel agency; allegedly accepting envelopes full of cash from American businessman Morris Talansky; and allegedly granting personal favors to attorney Uri Messer when he served as trade minister in the Investment Center case. The charges were filed after he became prime minister in 2006, but covered his time as mayor of Jerusalem and later as a government minister.

According to DEBKA, “The verdict read out by Presiding Judge Moussia Arad said there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he accepted illegal moneys systematically and deliberately, only that he acted in an improper manner.”

Pennsylvania

However, at the same time, Pennsylvania Corbett has decided to award a $249,660 contract to the Republican lobbying group, Bravo Group, to “educate” Pennsylvanians about the Commonwealth controversial, restrictive, new voter ID law. The Bravo Group is the work of Republican lobbyist Chris Bravacos who used to be the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Republican party. Bravacos has personally donated $27,400 to the Romney campaign.

This taxpayer-funded money was intended for actual voter education, but will instead be used to create advertisements that will attempt to gloss over how many legal voters will be disenfranchised by this law. Indeed, two weeks ago Republican House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said that his Voter ID bill would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”


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Corbett defends the Voter ID law on the hollow pretense that it prevents voter fraud, but when Corbett was Pennsylvania Attorney General he did not pursue a single case of voter fraud.

Imagine what the conservative uproar would be if President Obama were to award a federal grant to MoveOn.org to advocate for the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

As US Attorney General Eric Holder said today before the NAACP,

Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID, but student IDs would not. Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes.

Isn’t paying a conservative lobbyist to advocate for a Republican voter supression effort the very definition of double billing?

Sample ads pulled from the Bravo Group’s vimeo channel follow the jump.
Video 1:
Dramatic music over pictures, including one of three suffragettes.

Video 2:
Video of overly happy people showing a card that is supposed to resemble an ID.  Also confuses the issue by saying “other kind of photo id” will be accepted, without explaining what that means.

Voter ID law proving costly


House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) told the Republican State Committee that Voter ID will allow Romney to win PA.

— by Pennsylvania State Representative Babette Josephs

The new voter ID law is proving costly for both the Commonwealth and Republicans. First, the Department of State announces it will spend $5 million to ‘educate’ citizens on voter ID and then House Republican Leader Mike Turzai admits that voter ID was enacted to help out Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years:

  • Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done.
  • First pro-life legislation — abortion facility regulations — in 22 years, done.
  • Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

Thousands of people are being forced to greatly inconvenience themselves and waste time their time and money to get the proper identification in order to vote. We warned that all of this would happen. Now it is. How much more proof is needed that voter ID is bad for Pennsylvania?

When the law was being considered by the General Assembly, Republican fiscal analyses estimated that its cost of outreach could easily be absorbed by the $3.8 million in federal Help America Vote Act funds held by the Department of State. However, the department recently announced that it was planning to spend $5 million on robocalls and other public outreach tools.

More after the jump.

I’m not questioning the need for and importance of outreach, but the Commonwealth is planning to spend at least $1.2 million more than what Republicans said was needed. That doesn’t take into account additional outreach that might be necessary or what the state Transportation Department is spending to provide free IDs. The Democrats said that some $11 million would have to be spent year in and year out, and it seems we were right. But this is an enormous leap into fiscal irresponsibility by the Corbett administration and the Republican majority in general.

In the face of important people needs like a job or quality education for their children, clean air and safe drinking water, treatment for behavioral diseases and physical conditions, law enforcement and public safety, not to mention support for the poor, the hungry and the vulnerable, spending this money to fix a political problem that is facing Republicans is unconscionable. It is clear to me that the Corbett administration fears the lawsuit brought by the NAACP, the ACLU and others. They want to prove the allegations are wrong, but Mr. Turzai, their House majority leader, has undercut their efforts with a single sentence. He said publicly what the law’s opponents have been saying all along — that this is just a voter suppression bill and a way to keep the citizens who vote Democratic away from the polls.

I don’t believe the Republican majority will be successful in bamboozling the court or undermining the state constitution. The more people who participate in the election process, the better the outcome. I believe that through the judicial system and the voices of the citizens, democracy will be restored to Pennsylvania and we will see what the citizens really want when all the votes are cast in November and beyond.

The 2012-2013 Pennsylvania Budget: Areas to Improve

Daylin Leach— by Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach

Since the state’s fiscal year ends at midnight on June 30th of each year, May and June are always a busy time when everyone in Harrisburg is scrambling to put together next year’s budget. We’ve had tough budgets for the past four years because during a recession, demand for government services goes up while revenues coming into the state coffers go down. Unlike the federal government, we are constitutionally required to balance our budget each year, so every dollar we spend must come from a revenue source.

There are really only two ways to eliminate a budget deficit: you can either cut expenditures or raise revenues. Actually, the smartest approach is to use a balanced approach that does both prudently. Unfortunately, for the past several years — due to the political realities of Harrisburg and the fact that Governor Corbett has pledged to Grover Norquist, a lobbyist who lives in Washington, DC, that he won’t increase revenues in any way — the budget has been balanced exclusively through cuts.

It is important to remember that there are many areas of the state budget that can’t be cut, either due to federal or state law or contractual obligations. In some cases, if we tried to cut money from a given program, we could be sued and required by a court to spend the money with interest. In other cases, our laws force additional spending. For example, Pennsylvania’s criminal code creates about 2,000 new net prisoners per year (the second highest number in the nation). This requires us to build a new prison, which costs about $300 million to build and $50 million per year to operate, every single year.

All of the cuts we can make must come from a relatively small sliver of the budget that is discretionary. This includes money for first responders, education, libraries, human services, health care for our citizens, transportation improvements and our safety net for the very poor. We have continued to go back to these same areas of funding when making deeper and deeper cuts each year.

As a result, we have now reached the point at which we are in real danger of abandoning basic government services and the citizens who rely on them. You may have read about how some of our poorer schools literally would have had to close their doors if the federal courts had not intervened and ordered us to provide additional funds. Tens of thousands of people have lost their access to healthcare, childcare facilities have had to close, and libraries are either closing or drastically cutting back their hours and programs. Schools are eliminating art and music programs, guidance counselors and tutoring; and we are opening 30,000 new natural gas rigs across the state while drastically reducing the funding for environmental inspectors charged with making sure the drilling is done safely. In short, the picture is very bleak.

Following the jump below, I am going to try to give you a fuller picture of the cuts we are facing and provide you with the alternatives for which I am fighting. In my view, we could easily raise sufficient revenue to avoid most of the worst cuts without burdening a single Pennsylvania family. We could accomplish this by, among other things, enacting a reasonable tax on the Marcellus Shale extraction that is giving energy companies billions of dollars and closing the “Delaware Loophole,” which allows 70% of Pennsylvania companies to avoid paying their fare share to help our state prosper.

These and other ideas will enable us to continue providing basic services to our citizens and will ensure that Pennsylvania is a state with the educational, economic and environmental quality of life that will attract businesses and families for decades to come. I hope you find this information helpful.

A list of programs funding to be restored and funding mechanisms follow the jump.
As I noted above, I would like to stimulate an open and honest dialogue about the current budget’s shortcomings. There are a number of cuts that I believe will be extremely harmful to our state. I will first enumerate some of the
worst of the many troubling cuts in the budget proposed by Governor Corbett.

If I want to restore the funds for these important programs, I obviously have an obligation to identify where the necessary revenues would come from. So I will provide some suggestions along those lines as well.

Top 5 most destructive cuts in the budget proposal.

  1. Higher Education
    Governor Corbett has proposed cutting higher education by 30 percent this year, on top of the 19 percent cut passed last year. These draconian proposals represent not cuts, but an abandonment of our commitment to make college affordable for all Pennsylvanians. These cuts would result in dramatic tuition increases in state related universities and put college out of reach for many of our citizens.
  2. Basic Education
    Last year, over my “no” vote, the legislature and governor enacted a budget that cut over $850 million from basic education. These cuts came disproportionately from poor school districts, but hurt all public schools. The governor
    has proposed hundreds of millions in dollars of additional cuts, including eliminating the No Child Left Behind Compliance grants and the Charter School Reimbursement grants.

  3. Department of Environmental Protection
    At a time when we are opening over 30,000 new fracking wells in Pennsylvania, the DEP budget is being cut, which will result in many fewer inspectors and enforcement agents ensuring that this new and controversial fracking technology is being used safely and responsibly.
  4. Human Services
    The governor proposes to cut human service funding by 20 percent ($168 million). These services cover needs including Mental Health, Behavioral Health, Drug & Alcohol, Intellectual Disabilities, Child Welfare, Homeless Assistance and what remains of the Human Services Development Fund. These cuts will obviously have a devastating impact on many of the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians.
  5. Child Care Services
    If this budget passes, we will have cut childcare services and assistance by almost $140 million over the past two years. Without these services, parents may be unable to get back on their feet, receive training, or go back to work if they have to turn down a job or opportunity because they can’t afford or find childcare. Also, this lack of funding could mean the elimination of “Keystone Stars”, a nationally-recognized program that provides resources and professional development to the educators who prepare children for school success.

In addition, the governor has rejected the recommendations of his own hand-picked commission to raise money to fund much needed road and bridge repairs.

How to pay for the restoration of these funds:

  1. Levying a Marcellus Shale Impact Fee
    Imposing an impact fee on drillers would go a long way toward helping recoup the loss of natural resources taken from our state, as well as toward helping us balance the budget. Going further, imposing a tax on those drillers would do even more to help us. Consider that a 6% tax on producing wells would generate about $312 million in 2012-13 and $396 million in 2013-14. This rate is consistent with what virtually every other state in the nation charges for the extraction of natural resources from its soil.
  2. Closing the Delaware Loophole
    The Delaware Loophole, a way under the law for corporations to evade paying taxes, is an issue that has needed fixed for years. For some reason, this has yet to happen. If we closed the Delaware Loophole, our state would be able to bring in $550 million in just one fiscal year.
  3. Ending the Vendor Discount
    Under the Vendor Discount, Pennsylvania pays private businesses millions of dollars each year just to handle sales tax receipts and remit them to the state. This program was conceived many years ago before the advent of computers, and since there’s no longer a valid need for it, it’s time to end it. Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only 13 states with an unlimited sales tax vendor discount. If we stopped providing this unnecessary discount, our state would save nearly $75 million per year.
  4. Taxing Smokeless Tobacco
    Currently, Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that does not tax smokeless tobacco. This would be an easy solution that would garner $50 million per year, simply by imposing a tax of $1.35 per unit — the same tax that is levied on cigarettes.

Barnes Foundation Opening Gala


Senator Arlen and Joan Specter admired the Barnes Foundation galleries which are exact replicas of the galleries on Latch’s Lane in Merion.

Gala celebrates inauguration of New Philadelphia Campus designed by Tod William Billie Tsien Architects

Star-studded event raises more than $3.7 million. Proceeds support the care and preservation of the world-renowned Barnes Collection.

— by Bonnie Squires

Among the hundreds of movers and shakers who delighted in the Barnes Foundation Gala and celebrated the opening of the museum’s move to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway were many Jewish philanthropists who donated to the $200 million project.


Bonnie Squires greeted Brian Williams as he arrived for the cocktail reception.

Brian Williams, who anchors the NBC network nightly news, served as master of ceremonies for the dinner, following a lavish cocktail reception inside the museum.  The galleries with hundreds of fabulous Impressionist paintings collected by Albert Barnes were open for the gala guests.

The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Court also included an additional set of galleries for visiting exhibits.  The first exhibit is dedicated to the life and times of Albert Barnes, including letters to Barnes from some of the artists whose works he collected.

More after the jump.


Linda Paskin and
Jeanette Neubauer.

David and Helen Pudlin with Sharn and James Rohr, PNC Financial Services CEO.  Mrs. Pudlin served as executive vice president and general counsel for PNC Financial Services until recently.

Aileen and Brian Roberts (shown on the left) co-chaired the inaugural gala.  Mrs. Roberts chairs the Building Committee of the Barnes Board of Trustees and Comcast Corporation, headed up by Brian Roberts, co-sponsors the inaugural year with PNC.

Performances by the Avalon Jazz Band, Enon Tabernacle Mass Choir, and special guest artist and multiple Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter/musician Norah Jones entertained the 900 guests. In addition to Barnes architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, and landscape architect Laurie Olin, Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett attended the celebration along with Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Mrs. Lisa Nutter. Premier sponsors of the opening gala and the inaugural year for the Barnes in Philadelphia are PNC and Comcast.

The Barnes Foundation inaugural gala was co-chaired by

  • Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation,
  • Aileen K. Roberts, Chair of the Building Committee of the Barnes Foundation Board of Trustees,
  • James E. Rohr, Chairman and CEO of The PNC Financial Services Group, and Sharon Rohr.

Steve Harmelin, Esq., treasurer of the Barnes Foundation board, with his wife Julia and Dr. David Paskin.

Marina Kats,  Bernard Spain, and Marguerite Lenfest.

Marsha and Jeff Perelman with friends.

Sidney and Caroline Kimmel.

Governor Ed Rendell , Judge Marjorie O. Rendell and Billl Hankowsky.

Sharon Pinkenson had a chance to chat with Sidney Kimmel major donor and also film producer.

(Left to right) David L. Cohen executive vice president of Comcast Corporation and his wife Rhonda Cohen; Dave Watson, COO of Comcast;  Charisse Lillie, Esq., president of the Comcast Foundation, and her husband Tom McGill.

PNC Bank president Bill Mills and Barnes Foundation vice president of trustees Joe Neubauer.

Patrons Joyce and Dr. Herbert Kean; Elaine Levitt; and Gerry Lenfest.  

In addition to gala co-chairs, Barnes Foundation Executive Director and President Derek Gillman, Barnes Foundation Chairman Dr. Bernard C. Watson attended with Mrs. Watson, along with

  • Barnes trustees The Honorable Jacqueline F. Allen and Mr. Roy Beity,
  • Barnes Foundation vice chairman Joseph Neubauer and Jeanette Neubauer,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Steve J. Harmelin,
  • Dr. and Mrs. Neil L. Rudenstine,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon Bonovitz,  
  • Mr. and Mrs. Donn Scott,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Andre Duggin,
  • Brenda and Larry Thompson,
  • Gwen and Colbert King, Rajiv Savara, and
  • Barnes Foundation Trustee Emerita Agnes Gund.

Philanthropists and art supporters in attendance included:

  • Leonard J. Aube, Executive Director, The Annenberg Foundation,
  • Rebecca W. Rimel, President and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts,
  • H. Fitzgerald Lenfest, President of the Lenfest Foundation, and Mrs. Marguerite Lenfest;
  • David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation;
  • Thomas K. Whitford, Vice Chairman, PNC Financial Services Group;
  • J. William Mills, III, Regional President, PNC Financial Services Group;
  • David W. Haas, Chairman, Board of Trustees, William Penn Foundation;
  • Mr. and Mrs. S. Matthew V. Hamilton, Jr., Gala Advisory Committee;
  • Mrs. Samuel M.V. Hamilton, Hamilton Family Foundation;
  • Mrs. and Mrs. John S. “Seward” Johnson II, The Sculpture Foundation;
  • Sidney Kimmel, founder of the Sidney Kimmel Foundation, and Caroline Kimmel;
  • Harold Honickman, Chairman of Pepsi-Cola, and Lynne Honickman;
  • Jane and Leonard Korman, Founders, Jane and Leonard Korman Foundation;
  • Bruce and Robbi Toll, Collectors;
  • Robert B. Menschel, Chairman Emeritus, The Museum of Modern Art Board of Trustees;
  • Mr. Ira Gluskin and Mrs. Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, Collectors and Founders of Gluskin Charitable Foundation;
  • Jeffrey and Marsha Perelman;
  • Mr. and Mrs. Leon Polsky,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Peter Boris and
  • the Roberts Family.

A number of artworld leaders were also present, among them:

  • Glenn Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, and Mrs. Lowry,
  • Marc Porter, Chairman, Christie’s Americas,
  • Lisa Dennison, Chairman, Sotheby’s North and South America,
  • Jock Reynolds, Director, Yale University Art Gallery,
  • Barbara Guggenheim, partner, Guggenheim, Asher and Associates,
  • Matthew Marks, owner of Matthew Marks Gallery NYC, and
  • artist Ellsworth Kelly, whose 40-foot-tall Barnes Totem ws commissioned by Jeanette and Joe Neubauer and marks the entrance to the new Barnes Foundation museum.

Other notable guests included:

  • Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Judge Marjorie O. Rendell,
  • Senator Arlen and Mrs. Joan Specter,
  • Jeffrey Lurie, Owner, Philadelphia Eagles,
  • Ed Snider, Owner, Philadelphia Flyers,
  • Paul Matisse, Grandson to painter Henri Matisse, and Mimi Matisse,
  • Robert R. Jennings, President of Lincoln University, and Ms. Alma Mishaw,
  • Olivier Serot Almeras, Consul Général de France, Ambassade de France, and Mrs. Almeras,
  • Sharon Pinkerson, head of the Philadelphia Film Office,
  • The Honorable Felix Rohatyn and Mrs. Rohatyn, and
  • John Henry Merryman.

Barnes Foundation CEO Derek Gillman.

The Executive Producers for the event were Fred Stein, the Creative Group, Inc. and Karen Homer, HKH Innovations, LLC. Artistic Producers for the performance were Wayne Baruch and Chuck Gayton, Baruch/Gayton Entertainment Group.

The Barnes Foundation’s 93,000-square-foot building designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, conceived as a “gallery within a garden and a garden within a gallery,” is set within a four-and-a-half-acre site with landscape design by OLIN. The building provides significant new facilities for the Foundation’s core programs in art education, as well as for temporary exhibitions and visitor amenities. At the same time, the legendary Barnes art collection is displayed within a 12,000-square-foot gallery that preserves the scale, proportion and configuration of the original Merion gallery, as well as the founder’s conception of a visual interplay between art and nature.

Ten days of free admission to the Barnes Foundation’s Philadelphia campus began on May 19 and continued through May 28, made possible by the generosity of the premier sponsors of the opening, Comcast and PNC. The inaugural week culminatesd with a Memorial Day festival weekend, from 10 am on May 26 through 6 pm on May 28, featuring a variety of entertainment and programs and offering round-the-clock free admission to the renowned collection and entire campus. Tickets are required for all opening events and are available online or by calling 1.866.849.7056.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.”

The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, with extensive holdings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine and Giorgio de Chirico, as well as American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin and Maurice Prendergast, Old Master paintings, important examples of African sculpture and Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles, American paintings and decorative arts and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. The Barnes Foundation’s Art and Aesthetics programs engage a diverse array of audiences. These programs, occurring at the Philadelphia campus, online, and in Philadelphia communities, advance the mission through progressive, experimental and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

Betsy Cohen, head of The Bancorp Bank, also serves on The Barnes Foundation Corporate Council.

The Barnes Arboretum, located at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,000 species/varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and subsequently added to under the direction of Mrs. Laura L. Barnes, the collection includes a fern-leaf beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Laciniata’), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include Lilacs, Peonies, Stewartias and Magnolias. The Horticulture school at the Barnes Foundation in Merion has offered a comprehensive, three-year certificate course of study in the botanical sciences, horticultural practices, garden aesthetics, and design through a well-grounded, scientific learning experience since its inception in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes.

Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires.