Attendees Ask About Local School Board Actions
By Paul Chasko
Local residents had more questions for State Representative Rick Saccone on recent Ringgold School Board actions than they did on state budget problems at a February 22 community meeting in Union Township. It was a standing-room-only crowd in the Union Township meeting room.
Representative Saccone made a point about content of the PA Constitution.
Representative Saccone went through a presentation summarizing budgetary problems currently facing the PA state legislature. He reported a total $58.9 billion budget deficit that somehow needs to be addressed. Major contributors to the deficit according to Rep. Saccone were: outstanding debt, pension liabilities, unemployment compensation debt, road and bridge repairs and Medicare judgments.
Saccone next discussed some cost-cutting measures he and a few other legislators felt should be considered. Many of those discussed would be a tough sell in Harrisburg, even though they appealed to many attendees at the meeting as indicated by a show of hands.
Representative Saccone thanks a pair of young ladies for attending the “Coffee and Conversation.”
• State-supported universities have a teacher-to-student ratio that is too high – Saccone said this would need to be addressed.
• Saccone has co-sponsored a bill reducing the State House from its current 203 members to about 153 members, which would require a constitutional amendment – HB 153.
• Reduction in pensions of state employees including legislators.
• Reduction in state employees. Saccone mentioned that there has been a reduction of about 1,500 employees over the past year, but much of this was attrition.
• Elimination of walking around money (WAM) for members of the legislature. Saccone said this as a form of corruption.
• Elimination of the COLA for legislators is also being considered.
• Holding down costs in school districts – legislators feel that school boards are ineffective in negotiating teacher contracts.
Other subjects discussed were term limits for legislators (Rep. Saccone introduced a House Bill setting term limits), property tax reform, ethics reforms, moratorium on home and property reassessments and voter fraud.
During the question-and-answer session, it became obvious that there was a majority of attendees who were there to determine if Rep. Saccone could in some way help them to change the direction being taken by the current Ringgold School Board majority relative to facilities use (reopening of two 30-year-old deteriorated buildings for use by middle school students). Saccone explained that school boards were an elected entity, and he had little influence on their actions. He did say he would try to attend the February 29 public meeting being held by the Ringgold School Board to take testimony on the closure of the district middle school.
Last Updated on Saturday, 31 March 2012 22:21