Keystone Progress Blog
(HARRISBURG, PA)--The Board of Directors of Keystone Progress is honored to announce that the winner of the 2013 Anna Burger Award is Kate Michelman. Kate is one of the most respected and influential women leaders in America today.
She will receive the award and speak at the 2013 Pennsylvania Progressive Summit in Harrisburg on March 2. The Anna Burger Award is given to a Pennsylvanian who has dedicated his or her life to promoting progressive values.
For nearly 20 years, she served as President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, catapulting the organization to prominence as the nation's premier reproductive rights group--an achievement that has earned her a reputation as a nationally recognized expert not only on women's issues but also on grassroots organizing and strategic organizational development. Under Kate's leadership, NARAL Pro-Choice America transformed the political debate and positioned a woman's right to choose as a fundamental American liberty. She has also been a professor, consultant and author.
Michelman joins an incredible lineup at the PA Progressive Summit, the largest gathering of progressive activists in Pennsylvania. This year's Summit will be at the Harrisburg Hilton on March 2. Other highlights of this year's Summit include:
- David Cobb, national spokesperson for Move to Amend will talk about the need to amend the Constitution to define "persons" as human beings, not corporations;
- Rep. Raul Grijalva (D, AZ) will bring word from the Progressive Caucus in Congress;
- More than three dozen workshops, panels and other sessions with nearly 100 presenters;
- All 3 PA Row Officers--Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane, Aud. Gen. Eugene DePasquale and Treas. Rob McCord--speaking at lunch;
- Bi-lingual (Spanish/English) Campaign Academy
- More at www.paprogressivesummit.org
The Anna Burger Award is named after the former Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union and Chair of the Change to Win Federation. Ms. Burger was the first woman to lead an American labor federation.
Michelman, who first honed her organizing skills in the civil-rights movement, dedicated her life to women's equality and health with a focus on reproductive freedom after her own humiliating experience with a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion in 1969 when abortion was largely illegal. In order to obtain a hospital "therapeutic" abortion to avoid injury and possible death in a back-alley procedure, she was required by law to obtain the consent of the husband who had deserted their family as well as a hospital panel comprised entirely of men.
Prior to joining NARAL Pro-Choice America in 1985, Michelman was executive director of Planned Parenthood in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she expanded the range of reproductive health services available in the area. She also trained medical students and residents in child development as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine. She has also been a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.
Prior winners of the Anna Burger Award are Eileen Connelly (2010), Anne Feeney (2011) and Marylou Stefanko (2012)
Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Governor Tom Corbett's budget proposal does too little for schools and too much for corporations that aren't creating jobs, according to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, which researches and analyzes the effects of state policies on working families.
Sharon Ward, the Center's director, said the blueprint does little to mend deep cuts to education and health care made during Corbett's first two years in office. And yet, Ward said, it contains funding elsewhere that will cost the Commonwealth $2.5 billion a year.
"He has allowed new corporate tax cuts that really undermine our ability to fund all of these things into the future, and shifts costs onto local property-tax payers," she declared.
Ward said the governor's transportation funding plan is a welcome development after long delays and stalled infrastructure investments. But she added that Corbett's budget lacks foresight on the topic of expanding Medicaid to cover more Pennsylvanians.
"Governor Corbett really missed a great opportunity that would allow Pennsylvania to opt into a coverage expansion that will bring in tens of billions of dollars into the state, create new jobs, and spur growth in our health-care manufacturers."
Ward said there are what she believes to be substantial holes in Corbett's funding formula for his "Passport for Learning" block grant program, which is meant to increase student safety and expand science and math in schools. It relies on revenue from selling the state-run liquor store system, an idea the Legislature has shot down twice before.
"First, it's highly uncertain, and second, it's one-time money that will disappear in a few years," she said. "I think our kids need more security and a better funding system than that."
Ward said Corbett's "silent tax loopholes" would remain in effect regardless of the state's fiscal health, and she predicted that will not only tie the hands of future leaders, but also let corporations shift their profits tax-free to states like Delaware and Nevada.
Corbett has said his budget helps put Pennsylvania on a solid financial footing for the future.
See the 2013-2014 budget proposal online at www.portal.state.pa.us.
Pennsylvania Senate and House Democratic Leaders Issue Joint Statement on GOP's Effort to Change the Electoral College to Benefit GOP Candidates
Harrisburg - Senator Jay Costa and Representative Frank Dermody, the leaders of the Democratic Caucuses of the Pennsylvania Senate and House, released the following joint statement in response to the Republican Party's renewed effort to rig the Electoral College system to benefit GOP candidates. Under the proposal of Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, Pennsylvania would abandon the current system where the winner of the Pennsylvania vote receives all 20 of the state's electoral vote, as is done in 48 other states. Instead, the GOP plan seeks to allocate the electors based on the proportional vote of each candidate, effectively negating Pennsylvania's important historic role as a swing state.
Senator Costa blasted the plan, describing it as a "partisan scheme that diminishes the voice of Pennsylvania voters on the national stage." Costa described the cynical nature of the vote-rigging effort, pointing out that, "This proposal is being made in Pennsylvania because President Obama carried the state. Texas and Alabama and other states that voted Republican are not having their electors split in two. Republican Governors in Ohio and Virginia have rejected these schemes, as violating a basic sense of fairness, but, sadly, Governor Corbett has failed to categorically reject this assault on fair elections."
Representative Dermody said that, to appeal to Pennsylvania voters, the Republican Party should alter its extreme views, rather than the rules of elections. "Although Republicans are couching their proposals in language of fairness," Dermody said, " the motivation for changing the Electoral College is purely partisan. The Republican Party lost in 2012 because they failed to appeal to the majority of voters in Pennsylvania. They know they can't win on the issues, so they're resorting to underhanded tactics and undermining the principal that the candidate who obtains a majority of the votes should prevail." Highlighting the absurdity of the GOP's position that the electoral vote be equally distributed, Mr. Dermody pointed out that, "Nearly half the voters in the state voted for Mr. Corbett's opponent, but no one suggested that the Governor's term be split in half. The GOP plan is not about fair elections, it is about rigging the game and diminishing Pennsylvania's influence over who becomes our next President."
Both Senator Costa and Representative Dermody urged Governor Corbett to immediately voice his opposition to this partisan plan, and, instead, work in a bi-partisan manner to address the important issues facing Pennsylvania, such as the need to address our neglected transportation infrastructure and to improve our educational system throughout the state. "Who can blame our citizens for viewing the Republican Party in this state with such contempt," said Senator Costa, noting that, "This isn't the first time we've seen Republicans try to rig the election in their favor. In 2012, the Republican Party led a coordinated campaign to disenfranchise millions of voters through burdensome voter ID laws that one Republican leader said would help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania. This latest Republican effort to change the Electoral College in Pennsylvania is more of the same - if you can't win elections fair and square, rig the game."
Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, PA. - Education advocates in Pennsylvania say a $90 million funding increase in Gov. Tom Corbett's budget proposal falls far short of what schools have seen cut from their budgets in the past two years - and what students need for a quality education.
Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, a group aimed at keeping the public informed on public school issues, said the nearly $2 billion in education cuts during Corbett's first two years in office have led to decreases in staffing, increases in class size and reductions in programs for students.
"We need something that works for communities to support their schools," she said, "so we're not constantly pushing things down onto property taxes, which creates more disparity and pressures communities in other negative ways. It needs to be constitutional - and, for goodness sakes, we've got to get politics out of this."
Nicole Bassett, whose three children attend public schools in Macungie, said the impact of the past two years is clearly visible.
"I think the biggest area where you can see that is class sizes. In our district, which is a good district, our class sizes in the elementary schools are upwards of 30 kids in some cases."
The more details that emerge on the budget, the more shortcomings will be exposed, Gobreski predicted, "ranging from the gimmicks around using the liquor stores up to and including the fact that there are a lot of tax breaks for corporations, even as we are under-investing in our schools."
Corbett said his spending plan represents a 1.7 percent increase from current spending levels. He also has called for a program that he said would boost school safety, enhance full-day kindergarten and expand math and science in grades 6 through 12. Corbett said the program would be funded by privatizing the state liquor-store system.
Patriotic, Progressive and Pissed Off
The Pennsylvania Progressive Summit is pleased to announce that our 2013 keynote speaker is David Cobb.
David Cobb is the provocative and dynamic national spokesperson for Move to Amend (MTA), a coalition of more than 250,000 people and organizations working together for social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests. MTA calls for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns.
Prior keynote speakers have included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, William McNary and Wiscosin Senator Jon Erpenbach.
The 2013 Pennsylvania Progressive Summit is going to be the most important event for progressive leaders and activists this year. This year, it will be in Harrisburg on March 2. It's an incredible opportunity to learn from the best and brightest progressive leaders, network with activists from around the state and have a chance to reenergize for the battles ahead.
We've posted all of the sessions on the website. Click on the agenda tab to see the list of workshops and presenters.
Some of the highlights:
· Over 100 progressive speakers, representing the best and brightest leaders and activists in PA and across the nation.
· All of our PA Row Officers--Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Treasurer Rob McCord--talking about how PA will be different now that they are in office.
· Representatives from the White House answering your questions.
· About a dozen State Legislators providing insight on what is happening in the General Assembly this year.
· Practical, how-to sessions on everything from running a campaign to enhancing your social media abilities.
· In-depth presentations on many of the key issues being proposed in Harrisburg and Washington.
It's the political event of the year, and you need to be there.
If you're staying overnight, make your discounted reservations at the Hilton here.
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