Daley lauds bipartisan support for redistricting reform Rep. Mary Jo Daley

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, today joined House and Senate Democrats and Republicans at the state Capitol to rally support for redistricting reform legislation.

The bipartisan and bicameral redistricting reform group and its legislation has seven core principles: Assign redistricting authority to an independent citizens commission; reform both congressional and legislative redistricting; prohibit districts from being drawn to favor or discriminate against a political party or candidate; use statistically sound methodology when setting district boundaries; ensure transparency in the process with meaningful opportunities for active public participation; make all districts as equal in population as possible with a minimum range of deviation; and respect political subdivisions and communities of interest.

“The political representation currently in Pennsylvania has made the commonwealth a national example of gerrymandering at its worst,” Daley said. “Redistricting should result in a fair map, putting aside partisan interests and protecting the interests of the voters.”

Daley added that as a member of the redistricting reform group, she has authored legislation (H.B. 878) that would create more openness and fairness in the redistricting process.

“My legislation would require a commission to consider plans drawn by Pennsylvania residents, hold public meetings on those plans, and establish a website to share the results,” Daley said.

OP-ED: Big companies should pay their fair share

By Mary Jo Daley, State Representative
For the York Dispatch
PUblished March 9, 2016

The House Appropriations Committee is almost done holding budget hearings for Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2016-17 budget proposal. The committee is hearing fiscal requests from various state agencies. As a Democratic member of the committee, my colleagues and I are in a unique position: We are hearing testimony on a budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year while a fully-funded budget for the current year remains unfinished.

Wolf proposed a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling in his 2015-16 budget. It’s a tax that I supported, but was rejected by the full House. The governor is now proposing a 6.5-percent tax for 2016-17. It is estimated the severance tax, which would be effective July 1, would generate $217.8 million in new revenue for the upcoming year and $340.7 million in 2017-18. With our pressing need for new revenues, why reject this proposal?

Natural gas industry leaders and Republicans are again rejecting the tax, saying it wouldn’t bring in any money because natural gas prices are at record lows. As history has shown, what goes down inevitably comes back up. Eventually, those prices will rise — and without the severance tax, these companies will make even more money tax-free.

It is estimated that Pennsylvania has missed out on $1.8 billion by not having a severance tax on natural gas in place since 2011. Many people across Pennsylvania support the tax. In October 2015, Franklin & Marshall College conducted a poll and found 67 percent of state voters support a severance tax to help balance the budget.

Pennsylvania is the only state with significant gas and oil production that does not ask drillers to pay a tax. It’s time for that to change. It’s time for Pennsylvania, the state with the fastest-growing natural gas production, to finally receive a return on extraction of its natural resources.

State Rep. Mary Jo Daley serves the 148th Legislative District in Montgomery County.

Daley calls for support of Wolf’s right path for Pa.

HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2016-17 budget proposal:

“Governor Wolf has laid out a responsible budget plan that would finally put Pennsylvania back on track by balancing the budget and funding our schools properly. It is similar to his proposal that he presented during his first year as governor, which faced much resistance and still does to this day.

“The governor has presented a choice for Pennsylvania: We can either follow a path with a budget that will invest in education, eliminate the deficit and put the commonwealth fiscally on the right footing; or we can continue down the same path that we have been traveling without putting the needs of our schools, our middle class and our homeowners first.

“We are now dealing with an embarrassing and frustrating situation. Pennsylvania remains without a fully funded and responsible budget for 2015-16 and we will soon be holding budget hearings on the governor’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, so we have a lot of work to do. The legislature must finish its job that was vacated in December when the Speaker of the House adjourned session without a final vote on the budget framework.

“It’s way past time for Republicans to stop playing politics and start working with Governor Wolf and Democrats to be honest and transparent with the people of Pennsylvania. We need to pass a balanced and responsible state budget.”

Daley blasts House Republicans for leaving Harrisburg without a budget

HARRISBURG, Dec. 23 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, joined her House Democratic colleagues to express frustration with the House being adjourned today without members voting on a full budget.

“We have a job to do and House Speaker Mike Turzai needs to realize that,” Daley said. “We are here to work and finally pass a budget and the House Republican leaders refused to call up the budget bill for a final vote.”

The House was expected to vote on final passage of S.B. 1073, which is the budget framework agreed to by Gov. Tom Wolf, Senate Democrats and Republicans, and House Democrats. The plan would provide $350 million for education and increase funding for human service providers. The House Republicans backed out of the agreement and drafted their own plan which, Daley said, did not offer the additional funding so desperately needed by public education and human service organizations in Pennsylvania.

“This budget process has been frustrating and exhausting because of the House Republicans, and here we are, nearly six months without a budget, and the Republicans have packed up and left Harrisburg,” Daley said. “As of today, Speaker Turzai called the House of Representatives into session on only 43 of the 176 days of the ongoing budget impasse. Speaker Turzai sets the schedule and decides which bills are brought before the House.

“I urge my constituents to contact him and let him know their thoughts in order to get a fully funded 12-month budget done.”

Main Line Times: As I See it: Pre-K Counts program needs a no-nonsense budget now!

By Mary Jo Daley
For Main Line Media News

Summer is over and our children are back to school. The pictures in our social media feeds are all smiles. But this back-to-school season unfortunately is being affected by the peripheral impact of partisan politics in Harrisburg, which is now sending waves of uncertainty through state-funded pre-K classrooms across the state.

While teachers and students are getting back to the classrooms, many state-funded pre-K and Head Start classrooms are obtaining needed costly financing in order to open their doors to young learners; some have even been forced to close.

It’s difficult to deny that an early education can play an integral role in many aspects of child’s life. It is especially true for those children whose parents do not have the means to pay quality pre-K tuition. A child’s brain is developed 90 percent by the time they reach the age of 5. Exposing a young child to a classroom setting, social interactions, greater vocabulary and basic classroom skills prior to kindergarten has been proven to reduce the likelihood of repeated grades, special education and later incarceration, while also increasing graduation and college acceptance rates.

Many children start school behind their peers because the economic realities of early learning do not favor them. In the Colonial School District that I represent, for example, 193 students do not have access to high-quality publicly funded pre-K. These students do not get a do-over. Shouldn’t these children have the same opportunities afforded their friends and neighbors as they start school?

Gov. Wolf proposed a $120 million increase in early education funding in his initial budget. That amount, just a small percentage of the $29 billion budget, would provide high-quality early education opportunities for 14,000 additional 3- and 4-year-olds across Pennsylvania. It’s a good start, however nearly 200,000 of our 3- and 4-year-olds in PA currently do not have access to these educational opportunities. If we don’t start now, with this small portion of children, we’ll never reach the point where all of Pennsylvania’s young children are receiving this huge learning opportunity.

There’s no rewind button when it comes to the education of a growing child. Let’s get back to work before back to school is further ruined for more of our youngest learners.

State Rep. Mary Jo Daley is in her second term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives serving the 148th District.

Montgomery County, state officials put a face on social services funding crisis

By Kaitlyn Foti, kfoti@21st-centurymedia.com, @kaitlynfoti on Twitter
Publisehd AUGUST 8, 2015

POTTSTOWN >> The personal impact that is looming for human services in Montgomery County was palpable Monday morning at First United Methodist Church.

Politicians, advocates and those who depend on those services were gathered to hear Ted Dallas, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, speak about the state budget impasse. The aim was to put a human face on the cuts and absent funding to services as a result of the seven-week-old budget stalemate.

“When I got started, memos would come in saying ‘we have cases of this’ and ‘cases of that,’ and I would say, no we have people dealing with this and that,” Dallas said. “It is something we see with bureaucrats and distance they think they need to do their jobs.”

Dallas has been going around the state, talking to advocacy groups that deal with human services to emphasize that a protracted budget impasse takes a terrible toll on those who depend on human services, and that Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget adds funding for those services.

Wolf’s budget was rejected by the House in a 193-0 vote in June. A Republican-backed budget passed both the House and Senate but was vetoed by Wolf, leaving the state without a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

In Pottstown Monday, Dallas was joined by several Democratic politicians, including Montgomery County Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Valerie Arkoosh, state Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-153th Dist., and Mary Jo Daley, D-148th Dist., and Michael Brody, the president and CEO of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Each took their turn speaking against what Shapiro called the “anemic budget” put forth by the Republican-controlled Legislature. He said human service funding was one of the areas that Wolf’s budget aims to bolster.

“We need you to be on the legislators’ doorsteps and explain what you do,” Shapiro said. “Too often you can sit in the beautiful rooms of the Capitol and look at spreadsheets and forget it’s about people.”

In Montgomery County, $33 million has been spent by county government to replace state funding for human services that has been stalled by the impasse. Shapiro said that money goes to senior centers that provide meals for the elderly, programs to prevent child abuse and drug addiction, financial support for residents with physical and mental disabilities, and much more.

While the county is picking up the check for these services, commissioners and human service providers alike are wary of how long that line of funding is sustainable.

“While our legislators are on recess until the fall, human service organizations across the commonwealth are contemplating how long they can continue to pay their hardworking employees, how long they can continue to provide vital services to our fellow citizens with disabilities, and how long they can keep their doors open without payment,” Brody said.

Standing before a sympathetic crowd, it appeared that the speakers were preaching to the choir, but in fact, they were mobilizing it. Several speakers advised the crowd to contact Republican state legislators to appeal for a budget not only to pass, but to include increased funding for human services.

“I think people in Harrisburg need to hear the voice of the people that need these services,” Dallas said. “They need to know that there are real people behind this.”

The secretary followed word with deed, as he spent time after the event speaking with Aislinn Beam, of Pottstown, who had come to express concern that without the services she receives, her life could fall apart.

Beam explained that she has bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and that peer support groups are the only place where she can talk with others who understand what she is going through.

“I can take all of the medication that you can give me but if I don’t have this, I’m lost,” she said.

She expressed gratitude for the interest Dallas took after the event.

“He really sat down and talked to me. He let me know he was concerned and gave me his email because he said he wanted to make sure I don’t get lost in the shuffle,” Beam said.

The seven-week impasse is leaving a lot of uncertainty among human service providers, but Shapiro said that there is hope on the horizon.

“At a high level there is constructive dialogue going on. The Republican Majority Leader, Dave Reed, is trying to come up with a reasonable solution. Gov. Wolf is trying to come up with a reasonable solution,” he said. “If folks like that can be around the table, it can come to a resolution.”

Pa. legislators discuss education issues with Lower Merion school officials

By Richard Ilgenfritz
Lower Merion school officials held a legislative forum last week with some of the current elected state officials and their representatives in the hopes of continuing a dialog on school related issues in Harrisburg.

State Representatives Mary Jo Daley (D-148) and Tim Briggs (D-149) along with Merle Zucker, a representative from State Rep. Pam Delissio’s (D-194) office and Zack Hoover, chief of staff for State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17) attended the forum that was held during the Lower Merion Board of School Director’s monthly Legislative Committee meeting for February.

The forum gave both school and elected officials the opportunity to openly discuss various education issues including standardized testing, funding and charter schools.

Acting Superintendent Wagner Marseille opened the discussion when he spoke about some of the mandates related to standardized testing that Lower Merion and other school districts are facing.

“More and more what we are finding is that through unprecedented mandates … within the course of the day, within the course of the year one of the concerns that we have is the amount of hours that it takes to administer, to implement, to evaluate standardized assessments,” Marseille said. “We’re a great district and we don’t want to be defined by those metrics, and I understand there are mandates in place and we are afraid that continued mandates are going to rob us of who we are.”

According to Marseille, students in the class of 2017 will spend 43 hours preparing for and taking the Keystone Exams. For students who do not pass the exams, they could spend 163 hours in remediation and online work. At the same time, teachers and administration combined, he said, spend 1,013 hours preparing for and administering the exams.

Following Marseille’s opening remarks the elected officials and their representatives then introduced themselves gave their views on issues such as the notion of failing schools and Lower Merion’s proximity to Philadelphia.

“Representative DeLissio is very much concerned about education … and sees the vast contrast between what’s going on in Philadelphia where everything is painful right now and extremely difficult for those who are students, for those who are parents and for those who are teachers,” Zucker said as she spoke for DeLissio. “And here we are in Lower Merion where we are blessed with a phenomenal school district which we want to keep going and continue to be successful.”

State Rep. Mary Jo Daley also expressed concern over what could be done for school district’s throughout the state that are labeled as failing.

“What happens in Philadelphia affects all of us – especially those of us who live really close,” Daley said. It’s really going to be interesting to see how the school that are failing – Philadelphia and York – there’s a number of school districts across the state where kids are not getting the education that they should be getting.”

The idea for the forum was as an information exchange that could be part of a larger communications effort between state and local officials.

Zach Hoover, chief of staff for State Sen. Daylin Leach, also talked about education funding but added talk about charter schools and vouchers.

“Not everyone in Harrisburg thinks that education should be a priority,” Hoover said. “There are also a lot of people who think it should be a priority but that people should be able to make money off it. And so there has been an enormous effort to privatize public education services that exist in Pennsylvania. The biggest way that came though Harrisburg was in Senate Bill 1 a few years ago that was an enormous education voucher bill. It would have created a huge system of vouchers that would have allowed students in certain – what they called failing school districts — to go to private schools, parochial schools and also allowed for some students to attend different school districts, public school districts. So if they were a student in another school district and they wanted to come to say Lower Merion there was a possibility for them.”

Briggs talked about the state budget and making education funding a priority.

“When you are talking about the state budget it’s about priorities,” Briggs said. “With Gov. Rendell and with the Democrats both the house and the senate … a lot of the Democrats wanted to continue to invest in education, wanted to tax Marcellus Shale, wanted to do common sense revenue – raise some revenues. A smaller number of us was even thinking of raising the personal income tax all to save funding for education and for social services. There’s a huge number of legislators that their priority is not to do that, not to put up tough votes and the consequence is you don’t have enough money for education.”

THE PUBLIC RECORD: Montco Dems Tee Off For A Hot Fall Election

While City Hall is fairly quiet, many groups and organizations are having fundraisers, picnics, and making plans for action in the fall all over Southeastern Pennsylvania. Chairman of the Montgomery Co. Democratic Party CHAIR MARCEL GROEN presided over a very successful fundraising golf tournament at Talamore Country Club.

Read more: http://www.phillyrecord.com/2014/08/city-hall-sam-montco-dems-tee-off-for-a-hot-fall-election/