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Williams defends vote for sunset amendment on cigarette tax

By thenotebook on Jul 9, 2014 05:05 PM

Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams has been criticized for being the only Philadelphia Democrat in the Senate to vote for an amendment that would "sunset" the $2-a-pack cigarette tax for Philadelphia schools after five years.

In a statement sent to reporters, Williams said he did so as the best choice available to get the tax approved.

Following is the text of his statement:

Young football star's transfer stirs bad blood between two schools

By Brian Hickey for NewsWorks on Jul 9, 2014 11:04 AM

The clock reads 5:45 a.m. on a school day in early June, and the sun has just peeked over North Philadelphia's horizon.

Annette Thomas rushes down the creaky steps of her rowhouse near 10th and Glenwood. She's out the front door within seconds. Her shift as a Genesis HealthCare home nurse will soon begin.

Once that door closes, her son Dawayne Young bears full responsibility for ensuring that his preteen brother and sister, Dequan and Dainyah, board a yellow school bus for their five-mile ride to West Oak Lane Charter School.

Philly cigarette tax for schools stalled in legislative pingpong match

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 8, 2014 09:00 PM

The passage of the Philadelphia cigarette tax hit a major setback Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania Senate approved the tax, but added provisions as part of an omnibus package that will yet again need the blessing of the House of Representatives, which is not scheduled to return to a voting session until the fall.

The Philadelphia School District had been desperately hoping the Senate would allow the House version of the cigarette tax – approved in dramatic fashion last week – to pass unscathed.

But Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, added an amendment to the bill that would "sunset" the tax after five years and prohibit the School District from borrowing against cigarette tax proceeds.

Talking to YUC's Andi Perez: 'Truly believe in youth voice and don't settle'

By Cathy Quero on Jul 8, 2014 10:05 AM

The students she works with see her as an icon and a hero. But after 16 years, Andi Perez has decided to leave Youth United for Change, the student activist organization that she has shaped into the influential voice that it is today. 

“She’s the mother of a big ol’ household” is how one longtime member of YUC described her. “Nobody will ever replace her because we’re not trying to replace her. What she’s done nobody can do.”

Said another YUC member: “She taught me that it was our schools that we were fighting for, so it was up to us to come together and let our voices be heard -- the adults can’t do it for us.”

Philly lawmaker cautions that cigarette tax for schools not a done deal

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 7, 2014 09:27 PM

Last week, the Republican-held, tax-averse Pennsylvania House of Representatives gave its blessing to Philadelphia's $2-per-pack cigarette tax.

The tax is expected to generate $40 million to $45 million for the struggling schools this year and double that for years to come.

But the measure still must win approval from the state Senate before moving to the governor's desk.

Summer lost: Episode 1 - The slide

By Dorian Geiger on Jul 4, 2014 08:04 AM

It’s a sweltering summer afternoon in Philadelphia, and Dion Jones is reading to his two sons, Jayven and Cameron, on a bench in Smith Memorial Playground.

It’s July 1, one of the first weeks of summer vacation, and Jones just received a handful of free children’s books from the Philadelphia Eagles Youth Partnership.

Tradeoff in the cigarette tax bill: Potential for more new charters, more appeals

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 3, 2014 07:15 PM

Very probable, optimistic, off the table, never happening, dead, passed.

Such was a week in the life of the Philadelphia cigarette tax.

On Wednesday night, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved the measure by a 119-80 vote.

The Senate, which passed similar language earlier in the week, will likely vote on it Tuesday. If approved, it will head to Gov. Corbett's desk.

Pritchett resigns from SRC; Nutter names retired principal Neff to replace him

By Paul Socolar on Jul 3, 2014 04:54 PM

The School Reform Commission has a new member, Marjorie Neff, a longtime District principal who just retired from her post at the Masterman School. Mayor Nutter named her Friday to the SRC to replace Wendell Pritchett, who has served as a mayoral appointee since September 2011.

Pritchett, whose term runs until January 2017, submitted his resignation today. He recently returned to the University of Pennsylvania law school as a professor and interim dean after serving as chancellor of Rutgers University - Camden.

House approval of cigarette tax hailed as victory by officials and funding advocates

By David Limm on Jul 3, 2014 12:00 PM

After a seesaw week of negotiations in Harrisburg, House legislators late Wednesday night passed119-80, an amended bill that allows Philadelphia to add a $2 per-pack tax on cigarettes to help fund the city's schools. The entire Philadelphia delegation supported the bill.

If approved by the Senate and Gov. Corbett, who have both supported the tax, the School District stands to gain as much as $45 million in the first year and about $80 million the year after, according to estimates. The tax should narrow the District's substantial 2014-15 budget gap to less than $40 million. Its approval was hailed as a victory by both elected officials and advocates for more school funding. 

Spectacular victory for Philly schools - pretty depressing

By Dave Davies for NewsWorks on Jul 3, 2014 11:45 AM

In a stunning, come-from-behind legislative win in Harrisburg, Mayor Nutter and backers of the beleaguered Philadelphia school system managed to get a key vote last night authorizing a cigarette tax in the city to fund the schools.

Without it, there was the prospect of 1,300 layoffs and schools not opening on time in September.

Pa. House authorizes Philly to tax cigarettes for school funding

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 2, 2014 08:29 PM

Updated | July 3, 12:30 p.m. 

Legislation that would enable Philadelphia to levy a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by a 119-80 vote Wednesday night.

The vote came after a whirlwind of political deal-making and maneuvering by ideologically entrenched interests on both sides of the aisle.

Having escaped the House Rules Committee by unanimous consent, the cigarette tax bill faced a vote before the full House.

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