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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on witf’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Hosted by: Scott LaMar



Smart Talk Friday is a fast-paced program featuring thoughtful and engaging conversations about the politics, policy and people who are shaping Pennsylvania’s future. Host Matt Paul and witf Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson invite your multimedia interaction before, during and after the program.

Hosted by: Matt Paul and Mary Wilson



witf introduces 'Smart Talk Friday' radio program

Radio Smart Talk: Sec. of Education Ron Tomalis

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Feb 14, 2013 3:55 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Friday, January 15:

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Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis will appear on Friday's program to discuss the Corbett Administration's proposed budget and what it means for schools across the state.

Gov. Corbett has been criticized for cuts in education spending in his last two budgets.  The governor responded that his administration has not reduced education spending at all.  He says schools used one-time federal stimulus money in their budgets, knowing those funds had a shelf life.

In his 2013-14 fiscal year budget, Corbett is proposing a $90 million increase in basic education spending.  The administration justified the increase by saying the economy is improving. 

However, that's not what has gotten the most attention. 

The governor wants to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania.  He has proposed selling rhe state's liquor stores and creating more licenses to be sold to private businesses.  Corbett estimates it would generate one billion dollars in revenue -- money that would go to schools in the form of grants.

Unfunded pensions for retired school employees is also a major issue.  Some $26.5 billion is owed to the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System.  Gov. Corbett has wants to get pensions under control by turning to a 401K type plan, but it has been gotten a less than enthusiastic response from educators.

Sec. Tomalis will discuss those and other education related issues on Friday's show.

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Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis on Radio Smart Talk

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Comments: 6

  • Robert Colgan img 2013-02-15 09:18

    Scott,
    Ask Tomalis when he's going to phase out the dysfunctional charter schools which are sucking taxpayers dollars away from the public school system.

  • elgrans img 2013-02-15 09:31

    Assuming that this one billion dollars from the sale of the state liquor business actually materializes, what guarantees will be in place (other than verbal promises) that will assure that the funds will be used for the educational grants and not become part of the general fund? Too many times, money earmarked for special programs and projects has been diverted by the legislature or the executive branches for other uses.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-02-15 10:09

    Email from Catherine:

    How much is the annual income generated by the state store system now? Where is that $$ used now?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-02-15 10:10

    Email from Jeremy:

    I think the publicly operated liquor stores are the very least problematic element of Pennsylvania's archaic liquor laws and actually think the stores provide a great selection at reasonable prices.

    What is confounding to me, and I think a major hinderance to economic development in this state, is the way in which liquor licenses are distributed and bought and sold among eating establishments.

    For example, Franklin County was recently awarded 4 new licenses available on a first come, first serve basis. However, it seems that initially only businesses operated by those with personal connections to area legislators were privy to the knowledge of the licenses' availability.

    Needless to say, they got theirs right away. Now we have 7 restaurants competing for the last remaining license, and other, already licensed establishments, taking out mortgages to pay off the obscene amounts they had to pay for their liquor license.

    Meanwhile, and on a personal note, Chambersburg continues to have some of the best Mexican food around, but at not one restaurant can you get a margarita with your meal---Absurd! Please enter the 20th century (much less the 21st) when it comes to liquor laws in this state, and in turn raise tax revenue for schools and whatever else.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-02-15 10:10

    Email from Pete:

    Two questions:
    1_ You keep talking about public support for privatizing the PLCB – even though support has dropped in almost every poll in the last three years. My question is: are you opposed to the giveaway of the state lottery because voters are overwhelmingly against it? You have read the same newspaper articles that we have…voters are dead set against that plan.

    2_ Are you and the governor going to hold public meetings on the PLCB idea – unlike the lottery deal? The administration only held hearings on the lottery deal AFTER it was signed. Why not meet voters and parents and have open government for a change?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-02-15 10:11

    Email from Diane:

    I disagree with privatizing the PA Liquor stores. This “one-time” funding will be gone and we will be stuck with the results:
    We have seen that the stores in downtown Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and everywhere else in PA are bright, clean and well run, but in downtown Washington DC, Baltimore, Boston, etc. the private stores scary and filthy. When on vacation, we are constantly appalled at the condition of out-of-state stores.

    We like PA stores and want them to STAY that way.

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