Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 6, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
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© Copyright 2001TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2001
Date set for 9th District election
By Robert Igoe
Two candidates are official, and at last, a date has been set.
Now it’s a matter of one more candidate being announced for the May 15 special election that will decide the successor of former Rep. Bud Shuster as the Pennsylvania 9th District representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Gov. Tom Ridge signed the writ of special election setting the date for the election, which also is the date of the spring primary election. Ridge could have set the date for as early as April IO since the law requires the election to be held no sooner than 60 days upon the signing of the writ. Ridge had up to IO days after the vacancy to sign the writ.
Ridge chose the primary date as a matter of convenience and economy for the areas affected.
“This decision required balancing my desire to restore representation to the district quickly with the impact of a stand-alone election on taxpayers and county governments,” Ridge said. “In this instance, with the two dates only five weeks apart, I believe the proper decision is to schedule the election with the regularly scheduled primary election.”
While the Democrats have selected Scott Conklin as their candidate for the seat and Manna Hartzok has accepted the Green Party nomination, the State Republican Committee has yet to name their candidate. That decision could come as early as next week, and the Blair County Republican Committee has announced that they will meet Feb. 13 to discuss their possible choice for a candidate.
One of the candidates is Blair GOP Committee Chairman and county Commissioner John Eichelberger, who was pleased to learn of the decision to hold the election on the day of the spring primary elections.
“I am very relieved to hear that,” Eichelberger said. “A separate election would be very costly for the county, as high as $35,000, and would have been very difficult for us to arrange. We have to coordinate the efforts of 500 workers, including county employees, each election, and asking them to work a third election night would have really been asking them to go above and beyond.”
Eichelberger said that an early election date usually is the best bet for the GOP in any race, pointing out the recent Melissa Hart race for Congress, in which she won in a heavily Democratic area. Eichelberger feels the heavy edge the GOP has in voter registration in this area will offset the later date, and the date could bring an advantage for the GOP.
“It gives us some breathing room [to select a candidate!,” he said. “We had planned a worst-case date of Feb. 17 to make our choice to allow us time to campaign, but now, we don’t have to be held to that. We may still announce a candidate on that date if the party feels ready, but now, we don’t have to.”
Please see 9th/Page A8
LOOKING FOR SUPPORT
Ridge plan presents changes
■ Unfamiliar ground takes spending to more than $20 billion for first time.
By Robert Igoe Staff Writer
Harrisburg - Gov. Tom Ridge plans to present a 2001-02 budget today that treads on familiar ground, heavily touting tax and education reform, and not-so-familiar ground, taking spending to more than $20 billion for the first time ever.
“I think his message is that he is going to have a full agenda, even though it is his last two years of service,” said Senate Majority Leader David J. Brightbill, R-Lebanon. “Tom Ridge has been running at full-speed, and he’s going to continue doing that.”
In his address to a joint session of the General Assembly this morning, among other things, Ridge is expected to call for exempting more lower-income families from the state income tax; continuing the phaseout of the capital stock and franchise tax on business’ assets; and increasing spending for early childhood programs, public libraries and museums in the fiscal year beginning July I.
Ridge also is expected to propose a tax credit to help defray educational expenses and a plan to use $90 million of the money Pennsylvania has received from the national tobacco settlement to finance three regional life-science “greenhouses” to spur biotechnology research in the state.
No tax-increase proposals are anticipated.
The Ridge plan will heavily feature educational spending programs, including $48 million toward new early childhood programs and $36.9 million for performance-incentive grants for state schools.
The grants proposal, which would be a IO percent increase in funding from last year, encourages schools to work to improve attendance records and increase Pennsylvania System of School Assessment reading and mathematics test scores by providing grants to those who improve. Under the program, 50 percent of the grant must be used to improve instructional programs and aid in teacher development, and up to 25 percent of the grant can be used on teacher rewards. The spending is determined by a committee, including the school principal and school parents.
Please see Ridge/Page A2
Expected highlights of the budget
■ a call for exempting more lower-income families from the state income tax;
■ continuing the phaseout of the capital stock and franchise tax on business’ assets;
■ increasing spending for early childhood programs, public libraries and museums;
■ a proposal for some sort of tax credit to help defray educational expenses;
■ a plan to use $90 million of the money Pennsylvania has received from the national fobacco settlement to finance three
• regional life-science "greenhouses” to spur biotechnology research in the state;
■ no tax-increase proposals are anticipated.
A look at spending trends (in billions) in the state budget
since 1990: in 7
(Note: Fiscal years run from _ RL J -
July to June.) 1C « IC C 11.6
14 a 15.7 iii ill „, 13.8 13.9 149 —
Some of the education focus of Gov. Tom
Ridge's proposed budget:
■ $48 million for new early childhood programs
■ $36.9 million for performance-incentive grants for state schools
■ $94 million for state libraries
■ $12 million to put more computers in the classroom
■ $10 million to start child-care centers
■ $2 million to help expand Head Start
1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 1993 94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98 1998-99 1999-00 2000-01
Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll
Bush says tax cut should be retroactive to Jan. I
By Sandra SOBIERAJ The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Flanked by a jumbo refund-check stage prop, President Bush asked Americans to get behind his proposed tax cuts Monday and said the reductions should be retroactive to Jan. I to “help get money into the people’s pockets quicker.”
He warned Congress and an army of lobbyists against add-ons, saying his plan is the right size “and I’m going to defend it mightily.”
In the White House diplomatic room, the president began a drive for the upper hand Monday as he and Congress move toward formal debate over the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He did not shy from the idea, emphasized by Democrats in what Bush decried as “class warfare,” that the
wealthiest Americans stand to benefit the most.
“MI the income tax rates should be cut,” Bush said. “Our tax code should not punish success at any stage of life.”
He stood beside a jumbo check written out to “U.S. Taxpayer” in the amount of $1,600 — the average tax cut for a family of four under his plan, according to White House estimates — and gathered around him three photogenic families who, in the bottom three tax brackets, would realize tax savings.,
Asked by a reporter why no one was there representing the big winners in the top bracket, Bush laughed. “Well, I beg your pardon,” he said. “I got a little pay raise coming to Washington from Austin. I’ll be in the top bracket.”
Please see Bush/Page A2
The Associated Press
Commerce Secretary Don Evans watches President Bush speak Monday during a ceremonial swearing-in at the Commerce Department.
Veterans forge ahead to return grave marker
By William Kibler
Most people around here still don’t know the name Glenn English.
He was one of five kids in a family in Juniata. His father split for Florida when Glenn was 6. His mother worked in bars but lost the kids to the county and they dispersed — Glenn shuttling for years between a Williamsburg orphanage and foster homes in Mtoona, Homers Gap, Duncansville and Martinsburg.
But from that unstable, tumultuous childhood, he went on to stability and focus in the Army, and eventually — amid the tumult of the Vietnam War — achieved an apotheosis of heroic self-sacrifice that earned him the Congressional
Medal of Honor.
This spring, a local veterans group hopes to bring the tombstone that has marked his grave in North Carolina for three decades here to the Vietnam History Center it plans to build at Westfall Park.
Staff Sgt. English was riding in the lead-armored personnel carrier in a four-vehicle column when an enemy mine exploded in front of the vehicle, states the Medal of Honor citation. It was Sept. 7, 1970.
Conditions were grim in the English home before the breakup of the family in 1946, said May Burket, who became a foster mother for three of the children: Anna May, Larry and Glenn.
Please see Forge/Page A8
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The Associated Press
Navistar engine plant employees talk outside the facility Monday in Melrose Park, 111., after a man shot and killed four people, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. / PAGE Cl
Tax increase falls short of expectations
By Beth N. Gray
For the Mirror
BEDFORD — Bedford County commissioners were granted a real estate tax increase for 2001, but for
not as much
■ Judge OKs city’s as they’d budget request / petitioned Page A4 common
Now the panel must find a way to trim about $300,000 from the spending plan. They could consider layoffs as a most-drastic option.
“We’ll come up with the cuts, but it’s going to be painful,” commissioners Chairman David Thompson said.
In a brief order Monday, Judge Daniel Lee Howsare authorized a 2.25-mill increase beyond the limi-
ll. We Pride Ourselves
rf 111 \on Being the
J UI YI ( ti1 Area’s Very Best
I I ' Because We Feel
Our Customers ITALIAN VILLA Deserve Nothing Less.THE DECISION AT A GLANCE
What they wanted:
■ 13.25 mills in taxes generating about $1,050,000 in revenue.
What they got:
■ 12.05 mills in taxes generating about $750,000 in revenue.
■ Commissioners must trim about $300,000 in spending.
tation imposed by state assessment law. Commissioners had asked for 3.45 mills above the 9.8-mill cap to fund general operating expenses. Please see Short/Page A8
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Dear Abby Puzzles
Senior citizens to attend a Capitol rally in favor of a bl for prescription-dri