The Big Talk Topics include the deadline for children to repeat the last school year, the possible elimination of the PA gas tax and Senator Mastriano’s audit of the election

CHAMBERSBURG – Every weekday morning on First News, the local – live morning radio information show with Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen features the big talk topics and opinion from local Attorney Clint Barkdoll.

On July 13, topics covered by the Big Talk on First News were the deadline for parents to have their child repeat the last year of school, the PA gas tax and the election audit.

Listen to the full audio here:

It’s only days away to get the paperwork in for your child to repeat last year

July 15 is the deadline for parents to get the paperwork to their local school districts if they would like to have their child repeat the last school year due to COVID restrictions and distance learning.

You can fill out the form and submit it to your school district here:

Barkdoll said, “I got a couple emails about this yesterday. Two listeners said they knew nothing about this which kind of supports our theory yesterday that local districts are deliberately not advertising this. Parents have until Thursday if they want to elect this option of having their child repeat the grade from last year.”

Could the PA gas tax go away? And wait until you hear what may replace it…

Pennsylvania has the second highest gas tax in the nation at 59 cents per gallon. It was more than 10 years ago that the gas tax was implemented and it hasn’t changed.

Despite the number being that high, the Pennsylvania road funds are pretty poorly managed and officials are constantly saying they’re out of money.

How is that even possible when they get 59 cents for every gallon gas purchased by PA drivers?

Several months ago Governor Wolf said he wanted to get proposals to eliminate the gas tax, which everyone supports, but there has to be revenue to replace that if it’s eliminated.

So Pennsylvania formed the Transportation Revenue Options Commission. It’s a little more than 40 members, including Republicans and Democrats from the state legislature as well as trade organization people, Chamber of Commerce presidents, state police and township supervisors. It’s kind of a who’s who around Pennsylvania that might be affected by this.

They’ve been meeting about every one or two weeks the last couple of months. There’s another meeting tomorrow and one more meeting in July and they’re going to send their recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly.

Yesterday, the Secretary of Transportation of PennDOT who chairs this committee said the proposal that’s getting traction would be a tax on packages that get delivered to your house and to your business.

Pennsylvania would be the first state in the country to do this.

Every Amazon package that arrives, every UPS, every FedEx package, there would be a tax of anywhere from 25 cents to $1 on each package.

Barkdoll said, “They may make that recommendation to essentially replace the gas tax. Remains to be seen whether Governor Wolf and the General Assembly would get on board with this, but I think you’re going to be hearing a lot more about this once they release their final report by August 1.”

What will happen with Senator Mastriano’s election audit?

With Governor Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro coming out against any election audit in Pennsylvania, the chances of getting it through may be slim.

Barkdoll said, “It very well may go into court. Josh Shapiro made a very interesting announcement right after Doug sent that letter out to several counties asking for this election ballot machine information. Shapiro told these counties to not cooperate and he said if subpoenas get issued, which Doug’s committee has the authority to do, that the Attorney General was going to go into court to fight this.”

So, will the counties take the Attorney General’s advice and not follow the requests to produce the information? If so, it will likely end up in subpoenas from Doug’s committee, and then it’s off to court.

It remains to be seen what a court will do with this.

The big question is who’s paying for this?

A couple of these counties have said under the contracts they have with the election machine vendors, if the machines are turned over to a third party for review, they’re voided and the counties would have to purchase new election equipment.

Barkdoll said, “It’s not clear from either Shapiro or Mastriano is the state paying for this or is it more like the Arizona model where it’s combination of state funds and private funds that would do it.”

Jansen said, “I’m reading now that Jake Corman who’s the Senate President Pro Tempore has now come out and made a public statement that this is an attack on the General Assembly’s power to review, investigate and legislate in matters within its legislative authority, including Pennsylvania’s election system. So it looks like we are getting some buy-in, push back from Republican leadership here, so I guess this is going to have to be battled out to see if they have the authority to do such a thing.

Ryan asked, “Where is that punk and where is that louse that is Wolf and Shapiro? After we saw, we witnessed, it happened live before our very eyes, in Philadelphia, they wouldn’t let Republican inspectors anywhere near what was going on there. We had to go to court. We had to get binoculars. Where was Josh Shapiro then? Where was Governor Wolf then?”

There are four states – Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona – asking serious questions.

Ryan said, “They don’t care about money. They don’t care about election outcomes. They only care about power.”

Barkdoll suggested, “You may hear Shapiro and Wolf if this goes into court, they may start citing Fulton County – keep an eye on this – because Fulton County did do an audit. It was done by that same company that’s doing the Arizona audit. The audit did not yield any results. It essentially confirmed the outcome of the results in Fulton County. People in Fulton County, there’s been some complaints. They had to pay $25,000 to replace some election equipment that got voided by turning it over to this outside auditor. I don’t know if a court would put any weight on that, but I would not be surprised if Shapiro and/or Wolf cite that as an example. I think Doug and his committee can effectively address that by if they’re using the Arizona model, it’s not all public funding in Arizona that is doing this audit and that might be enough to satisfy people that are saying we don’t want public money being used for this audit. Doug may have a lot more information on that that he’s simply not in a position to disclose at this point.”

Ryan said, “It is pure hypocrisy that these guys all of a sudden get a tickle up their leg about being fiscally responsible. It’s just ridiculous.”

Barkdoll agreed, “This state budget and the spend and spend and I’ve been as critical as anybody about this budget. There’s no tax increase, but a tremendous increase in spending year over year. We see this all the time. They are very selective in what they want to be offended about when it comes to the spending. We know that once again, we have an all-time record budget in Pennsylvania for spending this coming year.”