Podcast – C&G’s “The Public Forum” on KQV 1410 – June 15, 2015

In case you missed it, here is the Podcast from our June 15, 2015 show.

Our host was Cohen & Grigsby International Business Lawyer, Susanne Cook with guest, Paul Overby, President of the newly formed German American Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburgh Chapter (GACCPIT).

The Public Forum is taking the summer off and will be back in September with another line up of great guests. See you then!!!!

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Podcast – C&G’s “The Public Forum” on KQV 1410 – May 18, 2015

In case you missed it, here is the Podcast from our May 18, 2015 show.

Our hosts were Nello Giorgetti and Kim Hileman with guest, John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.

Our next show will air on Monday, June 15, 2015 at 7:00 PM.

We hope you will join us!!!!

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Tonight on “The Public Forum” on KQV Radio 1410

The Public Forum is a monthly KQV Radio Talk Show where hosts from our Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs Team and various guests discuss current topics impacting Harrisburg and D.C. and the business community.

Our Hosts for tonight’s show are Nello Giorgetti and Kim Hileman with guest, John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.

We hope you will listen tonight at 7:00 PM at 1410 AM, KQV.

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Death and Taxes

Governor Wolf earlier this month presented his budget for fiscal year 2015-2016. It was actually one of the more interesting budgets of the past 30 years. Not because it advocated for tax increases and acknowledged a state revenue deficit of over 2.5 billion dollars.

No, this was not just a budget address but almost a complete overhaul of both state government and the tax code. It was a political manifesto as it was a budget.

For decades there have been complaints about the property tax and its inequities. There have been countless solutions, from money from legalized gambling to Allegheny County’s RAD tax—none have stopped the inevitable rise in millage rates. Governor Wolf’s solution is a rate increase and broadening of the base of the state sales tax, with the majority of the additional dollars collected going to local school districts with a mandate to reduce property taxes.

The corporate community has long complained about the high taxes on business in Pennsylvania making us non-competitive with other states in attracting or maintaining businesses. Governor Wolf would complete the long hoped for demise of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax and also cut the Corporate Net Income rate in half in just two years. He would fund these cuts with the demise of the Delaware Loop hole.

Governor Wolf would use an excise tax on natural gas extraction to increase funding for education and raise the Personal Income Tax to fill the deficit. Plus there would be a tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco to round out the tax smorgasbord.

Reaction from the Republican controlled General Assembly was of course, predictable.

Now whether we will see any or all of these proposed taxes come the end of June when the Pennsylvania Constitution mandates a budget be in place remains to be seen.

There is a deserved skepticism on state mandated property tax reductions, local municipalities, counties and school districts are ultimately responsible for the levying and spending of property taxes. The business tax cuts and closing of loopholes currently has the business community divided between the larger corporations and their S-Corp brethren.

Republican options include selling off the liquor stores and using the money to bridge the revenue gap; fixing the state employee’s pension fund deficits to reduce the cost of the Commonwealth’s contributions into that fund. Or just cutting the state budget even further than the recently unelected Governor Corbett was not willing to do.

Just recently the Independent Fiscal Office proclaimed that our revenue deficit was only 1.8 billion. Regardless, Pennsylvania is not the Federal Government, our beloved Commonwealth is required by law to have a balanced budget.

So whether Governor is successful in the broad sweeping changes his budget calls for or whether the General Assembly is successful in stopping him one thing is ultimately clear.

Taxes will go up. Don’t know which ones or how much. Taxes will go up.

by Nello Giorgetti

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Podcast – C&G’s “The Public Forum” on KQV 1410 – March 16, 2015

In case you missed it, here is the Podcast from our March 16, 2015 show.

Our hosts were Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti with guest, Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s Auditor General.

Our next show will air on Monday, April 20, 2015 at 7:00 PM.  The hosts will be Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti with guest, David Spigelmyer, President of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

We hope you will join us!!!!

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Tonight on “The Public Forum” on KQV Radio 1410

The Public Forum is a monthly KQV Radio Talk Show where hosts from our Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs Team and various guests discuss current topics impacting Harrisburg and D.C. and the business community.

Our Hosts for tonight’s show are Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti with guest, Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s Auditor General.

We hope you will listen tonight at 7:00 PM at 1410 AM, KQV.

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Liquor Privatization, Déjà vu all over again?

The stories are countless, a new resident to Pennsylvania goes grocery shopping for the first time and is astounded when they can’t find either the beer or wine aisles. Or you are amazed when you go to the Food Lion in North Carolina to stock up for your beach vacation and lo and behold you can buy not only a case of beer but a bottle of wine.

Since the repeal of Prohibition way back in 1933 the Commonwealth has constructed a set of laws and regulations so arcane and unintelligible that you would need to look even further back in history to the rules of court in ancient Byzantium for guidance.

Now I am old enough to remember when I went to the “State Store” and I had to place my order to a clerk who then disappeared into the back and sometimes actually came back with something resembling what I desired.  Now of course we have “Wine and Spirits” shops where I can actually see and touch what I am ordering.  But no beer!

Change comes at a glacial pace.  Governors Thornburg, Ridge and Corbett tried with nothing to show for their efforts.

Under Governor Corbett the latest attempt was made to change the system, and then Majority Leader Mike Turzai actually defied history and passed his bill through the State House.  It died an unseemly death in the State Senate. With the defeat of Corbett it seemed as if the issue was dead, or at least dormant.

But credit, now Speaker Mike Turzai, who has pledged to get Pennsylvania out of the liquor business once and for all.  As part of any negotiation on revenue increases in this year’s budget Turzai has made it a condition that liquor privatization must be passed and signed by Governor Wolf. A new privatization bill by Turzai is waiting to be launched any day now.

How will this play out? Will the Senate finally pass Turzai’s bill? Will Governor Tom Wolf sign it? Stay tuned during the next six months.

by Nello Giorgetti

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Podcast – C&G’s “The Public Forum” on KQV 1410 – January 19, 2015

In case you missed it, here is the Podcast from our January 19, 2015 show.

Hosts were Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti and the guest was, Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive.

Our next show will air on Monday, February 16, 2015 at 7:00 PM.  The guest host will be Kim Hileman with guest Senator Wayne Fontana.  The topic will be Economic Development.

We hope you will join us!!!

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Tonight on “The Public Forum” on KQV Radio 1410

The Public Forum is a monthly KQV Radio Talk Show where hosts from our Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs Team and various guests discuss current topics impacting Harrisburg and D.C. and the business community.

Our Hosts for tonight’s show are Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti with guest, Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive.

We hope you will listen tonight at 7:00 PM at 1410 AM, KQV.

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Podcast – C&G’s “The Public Forum” on KQV 1410 – December 8, 2014

In case you missed it, here is the Podcast from our December 8, 2014 show.

Hosts were Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti from C&G and the guests were Michelle Figlar, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (“PAEYC”) and Vince Gastgeb, Assistant Vice President Corporate & Government Affairs for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Our next show will air on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 7:30 PM. The guest will be Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive.

Hope you will join us!

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Will we finally have State and Municipal Pension Reform in 2015?

One of the unfinished items from the Tom Corbett era as Governor of Pennsylvania was an attempt to bring fiscal sanity to the underfunded state employees and teachers’ pension funds.

Because of a variety of reasons—some out of Governor Corbett’s control no action was taken, leaving this financial mess for incoming Governor Tom Wolf to deal with.

And mess it is. Both funds are severely underfunded, because of the 2008 great recession and because, in the teachers’ pension fund, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania decided that the market was going so well that it gave itself and local school boards a pass in putting in their shares in the aforementioned fund.

Now we are billions in unfunded liabilities.

This is without counting local municipal pension fund problems. Pennsylvania suffers from a multiplicity of funds—almost 25 percent of local municipal pension funds are located in our fair state. Unfortunately a vast majority of these funds are deep in the red.

The City of York has announced that they will no longer have a police force or a paid fire department because the yearly payment it has to put into its pensions make these public safety employees a luxury it can no longer afford.

Speaker Elect Mike Turzai did try to deal with state pension reform last year, coming up a few votes short. All indications are that he wants to fix this problem once and for all in the coming New Year.

The State Senate did pass a bi-partisan municipal pension reform bill 5 years ago only to see it die in the then Democratic controlled House.

With a new Governor, with a fiscal pension mess and a revenue shortfall perhaps the impetus for a solution might be at hand.

To paraphrase an old saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

by Nello Giorgetti

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Nello Giorgetti talks Budget with KDKA’s Jon Delano

On Thursday, December 5, 2014, Governor-Elect Tom Wolf was in town to support Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s bid for re-election.  During Wolf’s visit he made it clear that there was a $2 billion hole in the State’s budget.  Jon Delano sat down with Nello for his opinion on the State’s budget and what options there possibly could be to fix this problem.  See link from CBSLocal:  http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/video/10917943-gov-elect-wolf-visits-allegheny-co/

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Tonight on “The Public Forum” on KQV Radio 1410

The Public Forum is a monthly KQV Radio Talk Show where hosts from our Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs Team and various guests discuss current topics impacting Harrisburg and D.C. and the business community.

Our Hosts for tonight’s show are Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti with guests, Michelle Figlar, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Association for Education of Young Children (“PAEYC”) and Vince Gastgeb, Assistant Vice President of Corporate and Government Affairs for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

We hope you will listen tonight at 8:00 PM at 1410 AM, KQV.

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

Podcast – C&G’s “The Public Forum” on KQV 1410 – November 24, 2014

In case you missed it, here is the Podcast from our November 24, 2014 inaugural show.

Hosts were Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti from C&G and the guests were the next Speaker of the House, Mike Turzai and Senate Democratic Leader, Jay Costa.

Our next show will air on Monday, December 8, 2014 at 7:00 PM.  Guests will include Michelle Figlar, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children and Vince Gastgeb, Assistant Vice President Corporate & Government Affairs for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Hope you will join us!

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If you have questions please contact Michelle Vezzani at MVezzani@cohenlaw.com or the public affairs professional with whom you work.

C&G’s Public Affairs Team Launches “The Public Forum” on KQV Radio 1410

The Public Forum is a monthly KQV Radio Talk Show where hosts from our Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs Team and various guests discuss current topics impacting Harrisburg and D.C. and the business community.

We hope you will listen tonight at 7:00 PM at 1410 AM, KQV.

Our Hosts for tonight’s show are Rob Vescio and Nello Giorgetti with guests, the next Speaker of The House Mike Turzai and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa.

If you miss tonight’s airing we will post a podcast to this site soon.