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BLOG: Throwback Thursday — Deficit Choices SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Budget News, The Blog In his budget address to the General Assembly, Governor Wolf described the crisis facing our commonwealth and the two paths Pennsylvania can take: address our $2 billion structural budget deficit with sustainable revenue or cut a billion dollars from education and make serious, life-altering cuts to programs for seniors, the mentally disabled, crime victims and working parents.Republican reaction to the Governor’s dose of reality wasn’t great – choosing to boo and yell during his speech. Since the speech, Republicans have offered no clear path forward and no alternative to the governor’s proposals.The truth hurts. But the reality is that the legislature faced this same choice before and they know the politically convenient and expedient choice – to make drastic cuts – will hurt schools, vulnerable populations and property taxpayers in their districts much more than the Governor’s speech hurt their feelings.In 2011, lawmakers and the Governor had to address a substantial budget deficit.And they made a choice. Republican majorities in the House and Senate, along with the administration, chose to cut. And their cuts had dire consequences for Pennsylvania’s kids, the most vulnerable in our state, and local homeowners, who saw local property taxes skyrocket.In 2011, they chose to make “deep cuts” to education, human services and economic development, including “cuts of about $1.1 billion to public schools and universities.” They eliminated AdultBasic – taking health security away from tens of thousands of working Pennsylvania families.At the time, the Associated Press said: “Overall, the plan will reduce money for public schools by roughly 10 percent — with the poorest districts sustaining the biggest blows — and by nearly 20 percent for state-supported universities.”In 2012, they went down the same path – cutting human services funding for counties, which provide aid to seniors, the mentally disabled, those struggling with addiction and domestic violence and rape victims.Here are the real programs they chose to cut: Mental Health Services; Behavioral Health Services; Intellectual Disabilities Services; Child Welfare Special Grants; Drug and Alcohol Funding; Homeless Assistance Program; and the Human Services Development Fund.Based upon a survey conducted by the County Commissioners Association, the impact of these cuts to county human services was dire for people who need help the most:89% indicated they had to cut back essential social services;63% indicated they had to cut an entire programs; and34% indicated had to lay off those on the front-lines helping the most vulnerable.These cuts didn’t just hurt our schools. They didn’t just leave vulnerable Pennsylvanians without services they need. Their choices forced nearly $1.2 billion in property tax increases by school districts and county governments left to figure out the mess.If we want schools and the most vulnerable to suffer and our property taxes to rise, we can choose this path again.But Republicans must be honest about the consequences. This is not political points – it is the cold, hard reality that we’ve seen damage Pennsylvania before.Let’s choose the path that makes Pennsylvania stronger by fixing the deficit and investing in our schools and our children. By: J.J. Abbott, Deputy Press Secretary You can find updates and behind-the-scenes content on the 2016-2017 budget announcement on our Facebook and Twitter all this week.Read more posts about Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf February 11, 2016
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has frozen the accounts of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, (LTA) headed by Angelique Weeks.The Liberian leader also suspended the US$1 million lease agreement between LTA and a Chinese construction company, Qinjian International, for a building LTA intended to secure as office. President Sirleaf took the decision to freeze the account of the LTA on Tuesday February 4, 2014Though the release from the Executive Mansion indicates that the LTA “intends” to secure the building as office space, credible sources have it that LTA has indeed relocated its offices to where they are paying a steeper figure in the range of $385,000 per year for the lease of the property.Sources said that consolidating all their employees in one location rather than three or four, cuts down on the number of security personnel; the cost of generator and fuel at the previous premises.The building in question is located on the Congo Town back road, around the Chinese Embassy. The LTA last week left its 12th street headquarters and relocated in the Congo Town area, a move that may have been done without the consent of the Liberian leader.The process of leasing the building, it is strongly believed, was approved by the Public Procurement Concessions Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice, but the President might have preferred being informed of the move.The Finance Ministry, according to one source, was fully involved with the lease-agreement, as it had to approve the expenditure. The Justice Ministry was involved as well, since the lease involved a private party and a government entity. “The PPCC had been on board from the beginning, to make sure we followed procedures as stipulated in the guidelines. We have no problem renting from legitimate landlords who pay taxes to government, the source said.The LTA earlier had leased three buildings at three different locations, prior to its last-week move. While not cheap, the new location allows the LTA to foster greater unity among employees and provide an excellent area for the International Gateway Monitoring System that takes up an entire floor.It was indicated that the West Africa Regional Communications Project was also relocating to the site in March. “The cost of the move was budgeted and approved in our 2013-2014 budget.We have been very transparent about this whole procedure pursuant to the PPCC Act. We looked at other buildings and considered other locations before the final choice was made,” a source said.Asked why the LTA does not just purchase a building or buy and build, we were told that they intend to find a location that will allow them to accommodate their growing staff, as well as for Spectrum Monitoring equipment. ‘We would prefer to build but we have to find the right location to allow for expansion and growth.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)