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Host: Scott LaMar

Harrisburg's taxing authority and limiting kid's screen time

Written by Merideth Bucher, Producer | Aug 13, 2018 4:57 AM

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, August 13, 2018: 

At one point in the last decade, the city of Harrisburg considered bankruptcy as a way out of a downward spiraling financial situation. The city was millions of dollars in debt due to a now-sold, and often maligned, incinerator project.  

Harrisburg sought protection through a state oversight program for "financially distressed" Pennsylvania cities, called Act 47. The name comes from the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act (Act 47 of 1987). 

For the past seven years, Harrisburg has operated under Act 47, which also gives the city taxing authority to increase revenues to elevate itself out of the distressed status. Once out of Act 47 protection, that taxing authority would go away.  

WITF Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer reports that Harrisburg can now keep its special, high earned income and local services taxes through at least 2020. 

According to Meyer, "the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which oversees the capitol city's financial recovery, released the news in its latest proposal for Harrisburg's exit from its 'distressed municipality' status." 

RepPatty Kim (D-Harrisburg)wants the special taxing authority extended indefinitely and she is sponsoring legislation to secure the authority. She and others say that because Harrisburg has such high commuter levels, a lot of tax-exempt property, and a poor tax base, the taxing authority is necessary.  

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Representative Patty Kim


Representative Kim is in the studio to talk about the legislation and Harrisburg's financial future after Act 47.  

Do your kids spend too much time on their tablets and phones? If so, you're not alone. Two Pennsylvania college professors offer a solution on their website They argue that childhood creativity is on the decline and too much screen time is one of the reasons.   

Their advice is to SPOIL your kids every day, which is an acronym for five screen-free activities to engage children. 

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Dr. Meghan Owenz and Professor Adam Owenz


Professor Adam OwenzAlbright College, and Dr. Meghan OwenzPenn State Berks, are in the studio to talk about how to engage kids without using screen time.  You can visit their website Screen Free Parenting to learn more about their work.

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