Smart Talk

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.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Gov. Tom Wolf talks budget

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Dec 2, 2015 9:00 AM
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Photo by Joanne Cassaro/WITF

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, December 2, 2015:

Gov. Tom Wolf appears on Wednesday's Smart Talk.

Most of the conversation will center on Pennsylvania's budget that is now officially more than five months late.  The governor and Republican legislative leaders said a few weeks ago that the "framework" was in place for a budget agreement.  There even was some optimism that the stalemate would end by this weekend but right now that is speculation.

Perhaps, Gov. Wolf can provide some insight into where negotiations stand, what's holding up an agreement and what a final budget may look like.

Will it include tax hikes, increases in education spending, property tax relief, changes in how liquor, wine, and beer are sold, and new pension benefits for future retired state workers and educators?

For the past month-and-a-half WITF has been documenting how non-profit social service organizations and school districts have been impacted since their state funding has stopped through our Gridlocked project. Some have had to borrow money, reduce hours and services or turn away clients.  Many are interested in what the governor has to say.

Also, Franklin and Marshall College political analyst Dr. G. Terry Madonna joins us on the second portion of Wednesday's Smart Talk to discuss the budget and news that Attorney General Kathleen Kane has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate pornographic and racist emails exchanged by state law enforcement officials.

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Dr. G. Terry Madonna

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-12-02 09:03

    Edward emails:

    Why has an extraction tax been dropped from the budget discussion? Couldn't income from the out-of-state natural gas companies be used to subsidize needed PA infrastructure improvements, relieve property taxes, and increase education funding?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-12-02 09:04

    Jeff emails:

    An increase in the sales tax rate and base is a large part of the funding base for school property tax elimination proposals, such as SB76. To what extent, if any, did you see that as a reason for the sales tax rate increase being taken off the table in budget negotiations? Current reports are that a sales tax base expansion is still on the table. What items are now being discussed for imposition of sales taxes, and would that also impact the feasibility of property tax elimination?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-12-02 09:20

    Thomas emails:

    Governor, If you were my employee I would fire you. You are hired to be a leader, now do your job.

    Funding is cut to non-profit rape centers the same time the state police receive new airplanes
    just go home and think about that

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-12-02 09:30

    Matt in Hanover emails:

    What Gov. Wolf did is called smart negotiation, where you propose a whole in order to get a half. Maybe your "critics" of this tactic are simply not used to it being applied by a Democrat, especially given the example of the early Obama administration, which was always shooting itself in the foot by trying to "pre-compromise" on half and getting even less!

  • Tgraziano img 2015-12-02 09:49

    With new state employees to be on a 401k system, how will the pension system be funded down the line? For example, I have five years in with the state. Should I assume that nothing will be paid into the pension system staring now and therefore I will not have a pension?!?

  • Lisa img 2015-12-02 10:01

    I can't help but wonder if most of the dysfunction at both the state and federal level are due to our "two party" system. Would the emergence of a strong third party help improve government functionality?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-12-02 10:06

    Marlene emails:

    I would like to thank Governor Wolfe for sticking to a budget to fund education. I recently retired from PDE with a total of almost 42 years in education, the last 25 at the Department. In all those years, I never saw a devastating budget to school funding as I did under the Corbett administration. We need to fund education
    Pre K-12 through community college if we are to have world class education system. Certainly the shale tax is not too much to ask from companies making billions from PA resources.

    On the pension, the state workers and public school teachers continued to pay into the pension system. They did not take a 12 year hiatus as the state did. The state should pay their share back to the system. Now that I am on the retiree side, I worry if new hires retirement funding goes into a 401K that the present funding will not be enough for we who paid for those who retired before us. It's an impossibility to continue drawing out funds without replacing them.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-12-02 10:08

    Lee in York emails:

    Am I wrong or is the State Legislature really "Congress Lite"? It seems to me that the Republicans in the House and Senate are like Congress in that they can't agree even among themselves on a budget plan if the plan actually has a chance of getting signed by the Gov. If they could agree among themselves, wouldn't they have taken care of Liquor Privatization and Pension changes during the past 4 years when they had a Republican Governor?

  • Jim Foster img 2015-12-02 13:59

    Here is a quote from Gov. Wolf on WITF's Radio Smart Talk today, on the subject of welcoming Syrian refugees:

    "....William Penn came to Pennsylvania on the ship 'Welcome'. My ancestors came over as the result of an invitation from him and his descendants, saying Pennsylvania was a place that welcomed people who were fleeing persecution, from Europe in my case...."

    One of the most essential functions of government is to protect those unable to help themselves. I am deeply proud to have Tom Wolf as my Governor, and to have played a very small role in getting him elected.

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