Northeast Times

Neilson hopes to ease into Council role

Mak­ing the trans­ition: State Rep. Ed Neilson (left) has ex­pressed his de­sire for a seam­less trans­ition to City Coun­cil. No start date has been set for Neilson to join Coun­cil, though he has met with Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell Clarke on vari­ous loc­al is­sues, in­clud­ing pen­sions, schools, budget and a pos­sible sale of PGW. TIMES FILE PHOTO

State Rep. Ed Neilson said he’s hop­ing for a smooth trans­ition to City Coun­cil.

Neilson (D-169th dist.) won a spe­cial elec­tion on May 20 to fill the un­ex­pired term of Bill Green, a Demo­crat who resigned his at-large seat to be­come chair­man of the School Re­form Com­mis­sion.

For now, Neilson is fo­cused on spend­ing time in Har­ris­burg, help­ing to craft a state budget.

“Every vote counts up there,” he said.

Neilson’s dis­trict of­fice re­mains open, and he con­tin­ues to at­tend com­munity meet­ings.

As far as the state budget, he said, fund­ing for pub­lic edu­ca­tion needs to be in­creased. Talk of ways to raise rev­en­ue is “in the be­gin­ning stages.”

Neilson men­tioned the pos­sib­il­it­ies of rais­ing taxes on ci­gar­ettes and/or nat­ur­al gas drilling. A hike in the in­come tax is un­likely, he said, in an elec­tion year. He fa­vors pre­serving ex­ist­ing spend­ing levels.

“There’s not much more to cut,” he said.

On the city level, he’s met with Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell Clarke on is­sues such as pen­sions, schools, the budget and a pos­sible sale of Phil­adelphia Gas Works. He’s also dis­cussed of­fice space and staff­ing. No date has been set for him to join Coun­cil.

Last week, Neilson was pleased that the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives un­an­im­ously passed his le­gis­la­tion that would cre­ate a pi­lot pro­gram to provide evid­ence-based early screen­ing and oth­er in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices for chil­dren with risk factors of dys­lex­ia.

House Bill 198 would es­tab­lish the Dys­lex­ia and Early Lit­er­acy In­ter­ven­tion Pi­lot Pro­gram in at least three Pennsylvania school dis­tricts. The Sen­ate has already passed the bill, and Gov. Tom Corbett is ex­pec­ted to sign it.

“Giv­en the right tools and op­por­tun­ity, these kids can suc­ceed,” Neilson said.

Dys­lex­ia, also known as de­vel­op­ment­al read­ing dis­order, is a read­ing dis­ab­il­ity that oc­curs when the brain does not prop­erly re­cog­nize and pro­cess cer­tain sym­bols. It is be­lieved that 15 to 20 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion dis­plays at least some symp­toms of dys­lex­ia, al­though it of­ten goes un­dia­gnosed for years and some­times is not form­ally re­cog­nized un­til adult­hood, if ever.

Three years after im­ple­ment­a­tion of the pi­lot pro­gram, the state Sec­ret­ary of Edu­ca­tion would sub­mit an eval­u­ation of the pi­lot pro­gram to the Gen­er­al As­sembly con­tain­ing re­com­mend­a­tions to con­tin­ue, ex­pand or make changes to the pro­gram. The Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Edu­ca­tion would also de­term­ine wheth­er pro­grams of this type have the po­ten­tial to re­duce fu­ture spe­cial edu­ca­tion costs in the state.

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The cam­paign of Gov. Tom Corbett is call­ing on Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ent Tom Wolf to re­lease the de­tails of his budget pro­pos­al.

Wolf is a wealthy York County busi­ness­man and former sec­ret­ary of the state De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue.

“As the chief ex­ec­ut­ive, you have to make tough de­cisions and you need to be hon­est with the people,” said Mike Bar­ley, Corbett’s cam­paign man­ager. “How much would Sec­ret­ary Tom Wolf’s prom­ises cost tax­pay­ers, and why hasn’t he in­cluded these num­bers as part of his cam­paign plat­form? Pennsylvani­ans de­serve more than pie-in-the-sky prom­ises; they de­serve to know what the Wolf budget would look like. Sec­ret­ary Wolf needs to stop hid­ing be­hind the slick tele­vi­sion ads tout­ing his razor-thin cam­paign plat­form filled with poll-tested buzz words that bought him the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion.”

••

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO en­dorsed Wolf for gov­ernor.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Sec­ret­ary-Treas­urer Frank Snyder said, “Pennsylvania’s work­ers are fed up with the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has fo­cused on everything ex­cept what mat­ters most to them. Tom Wolf is rais­ing the is­sues that work­ers care about – the need to re­store fund­ing for edu­ca­tion and in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments as the keys to cre­at­ing jobs and ex­pand­ing the middle class. Mr. Wolf un­der­stands that you grow an eco­nomy from the ground up and not from the top down. We will work just as hard in sup­port­ing and elect­ing Tom Wolf gov­ernor as we are do­ing to de­fend good jobs, de­fend de­cent pen­sions and de­fend our rights to a strong voice in the work­place and in polit­ics.”

••

Wolf is sup­port­ing primary rival Katie Mc­Ginty as chair­wo­man of the state party.

The cur­rent chair­man is Jim Burn, who said he in­tends to try to keep his post.

The elec­tion is later this week.

Mc­Ginty is a Rhawn­hurst nat­ive and St. Hubert High School gradu­ate who is a former sec­ret­ary of the state De­part­ment of En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion.

She fared very poorly in the primary, fin­ish­ing a dis­tant fourth in a four-per­son race with less than 8 per­cent of the vote. She did worse in her nat­ive Phil­adelphia, man­aging just 4 per­cent.

However, un­like dis­tant run­ner-up Allyson Schwartz and third-place fin­ish­er Rob Mc­Cord, she did not at­tack Wolf.

••

The Phil­adelphia Re­pub­lic­an City Com­mit­tee last week un­an­im­ously elec­ted its of­ficers to four-year terms.

State Rep. John Taylor was re-elec­ted as chair­man.

The rest of the ex­ec­ut­ive board slate con­sisted of vice chairs Ag­nes “Chuck­ie” Tilley and Mi­chael Cibik; hon­or­ary vice chair­wo­man Su­z­anne Haney; sec­ret­ary Vin­cent Fen­erty; treas­urer Walt Vo­gler Jr.; gen­er­al coun­sel Mi­chael Mee­han; as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary Kev­in Pasquay; as­sist­ant treas­urer Calv­in Tuck­er; and as­so­ci­ate gen­er­al coun­sel Linda Kerns.

••

The In­de­pend­ence Hall Tea Party is cri­ti­ciz­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton, who last week vis­ited Phil­adelphia on a na­tion­wide book tour, for her seem­ingly pre­pos­ter­ous re­marks that she and her hus­band were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001.

Teri Adams, pres­id­ent of the loc­al Tea Party, said Clin­ton should have vis­ited poor neigh­bor­hoods in Phil­adelphia when she was in town to see the failed policies of the Great So­ci­ety - the 1960s-era Demo­crat­ic ini­ti­at­ive that, Adams said, has led to an even lar­ger num­ber of Amer­ic­ans liv­ing at or be­low the poverty level des­pite the ac­cu­mu­lated fed­er­al spend­ing of $22 tril­lion over the last 50 years.

“Ima­gine what tall tales are con­tained in those books - for if she can lie about be­ing ‘dead broke’ after leav­ing the White House, she can and has ob­vi­ously lied about so many oth­er mat­ters,” Adams said. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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