State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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The push stops here: Turzai says vouchers and Shale “never our issue”

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 16, 2011 12:01 AM

Governor Corbett said he wanted to pass school vouchers and a Marcellus Shale impact fee this year. Neither one of those is going to happen. 


There were rallies.  There were platform roll-outs.  There was the governor, who hesitated to rank his legislative priorities.  But he ceded that at the top of his to-do list was passing a bill creating vouchers for the poorest students in the lowest-performing schools, as well as passing a Marcellus Shale impact fee.


House Republicans said this week there weren’t enough votes for a vouchers bill, or even the less-divisive expansion of education tax credits.  


An impact fee remains undecided, too.


House Majority Leader Mike Turzai shrugs off questions that the House has thwarted two of the governor’s highest legislative priorities.


“Marcellus has never been our issue.  School reform has never been our issue.  We didn’t campaign on it.  That’s the governor’s.”


But Turzai also said House lawmakers still have a sticking point when it comes to Marcellus Shale.  The House GOP wants to allow counties to impose an impact fee on natural gas drillers.


“It is important.  The county option’s important to the house, and important to getting 102 yes-votes.”


The House is set to vote “no” next week on the Senate’s latest impact fee.


That will set up a joint conference committee, which will be charged with bridging the two chambers’ differences on a Marcellus Shale bill.           


As far as vouchers are concerned, it’s back to the drawing board.  When asked what Wednesday’s announcement from the House means for school reform, Turzai said he’s not sure.

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