Mary Wilson

Capitol Reporter

Mary Wilson is the state Capitol reporter for Pennsylvania's public
radio stations, including WESA in Pittsburgh, WITF in Harrisburg and WHYY in Philadelphia. Mary came to the post after a year being a catch-all staffer for a Maryland politician.

Before that, she was a part-time show host and cub reporter at WFUV-FMin New York City. She covered the closing of the old Yankee stadium andnarrated the scene of Harlem on the night of the 2008 presidentialelection. Mary graduated from Fordham University in the Bronx withmajors in history and Italian.

Pages

Government & Politics
3:00 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Corbett Calls WSJ Op-Ed 'Wrong,' Says He Kept Promises

Gov. Tom Corbett is defending himself after an op-ed posted on The Wall Street Journal website criticized him for having few legislative accomplishments to show for his three years in office.

“Well, obviously it’s wrong. You know it’s wrong,” Corbett said to reporters at an unrelated event. “The sad part about it is a it’s a blog, by somebody who didn’t’ really look at what we’ve accomplished in the last three years.”

Read more
Government & Politics
8:08 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Corbett: Liquor Privatization Issue Still Alive

Gov. Tom Corbett says the liquor privatization issue that has been a priority for him for more than a year is still the subject of negotiations.

Progress ground to a halt last summer on plans to dismantle the state-controlled wine and liquor system and change the rules governing all alcohol sales. But Corbett says there’s still some fizz left in the bottle.

Read more
Government & Politics
4:29 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Administration’s Food Stamps Decision Nets Praise From Advocates And Grocers

Anti-hunger groups and trade groups are applauding the Corbett administration’s decision to prevent a change in federal policy from cutting food stamps for mostly seniors and people with disabilities.

The administration has not formally announced the change in policy, but Kait Gillis, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Welfare, confirmed the change to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Read more
Government & Politics
7:57 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Veterans Marker Now Available on Driver’s Licenses

Pennsylvania’s military veterans can now have their service noted on their driver’s licenses.

The new designation is free, though the costs of renewing the license apply.

At a roll-out news conference Tuesday, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) said the designation helps identify veterans so people can simply show respect.

“And it will come in handy in the worst of times when a veteran may find him or herself in a dangerous situation,” Baker said. “This designation is something our veterans have asked for, and worked for, for a very long time.”

Read more
Government & Politics
8:18 am
Tue March 4, 2014

A Push for Human Services Block Grant, Despite Data Difficulties

The Corbett administration wants to expand the block grant approach of funding county human services programs, despite concerns that assessments of the new method have been done in a vacuum.

The human services block grant was approved in 2012, changing the way certain counties receive human services funding. Instead of getting discrete funding for seven different programs, selected counties have received one lump sum to parcel out among all the services.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:12 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Transportation Funding: Too Touchy To Tout?

A Wall Street Journal editorial last week delivered a harsh sizing-up of Gov. Tom Corbett’s legislative achievements, and in so doing prompted a question: Why isn’t the governor campaigning on securing additional transportation funding for the state?

The WSJ op-ed noted Corbett’s low polling numbers and criticized the governor for being “unable to corral his caucus to pass even de minimis pension, school and tax reforms.”

Read more
Government & Politics
10:00 am
Mon March 3, 2014

More Than Two Months Before Primary, Democratic Candidates Are Still On The Same Page

There’s still little daylight between the positions espoused by the Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania governor, as evidenced by the Friday debate in Harrisburg hosted by Keystone Progress, a progressive Democrats’ group.

Most all of the six Democratic candidates who participated in the two-hour long debate could have pulled a muscle being nice. They poured water for one another from the shared pitchers on stage and shared off-mic jokes. They complimented, echoed each other’s policy positions, and rarely asked for time to give a rebuttal to someone else’s answer.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:03 am
Thu February 27, 2014

PennDOT Chief: Winter Weather Has Wiped Out Road Maintenance Budget

The PennDOT secretary says his annual funding allocation for winter road maintenance has been wiped out by the harsh winter weather.

Barry Schoch says his agency is already about 11 million dollars over budget for the season.

He said frigid temperatures, snow and ice, along with underinvestment in road paving, has led to more and more potholes.

Read more
Government & Politics
7:49 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Corbett Administration Urges Caution on Film Tax Credit Expansion

The Corbett administration is still cautioning lawmakers against uncapping a tax credit for the film industry.

Several Republican legislative leaders, along with Democrats, have voiced support for increasing the state’s annual $60 million in tax credits. Supporters say it would attract more big-budget films to the commonwealth and support a growing industry.

But Alan Walker, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said there are complications to consider.

Read more
Government & Politics
4:28 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

State DPW Head Calls for Agency to be Renamed

The head of the commonwealth’s Department of Public Welfare is telling state lawmakers she’d “love” for her agency to be renamed.

Supporters of changing the name to the Department of Human Services have long said the switch would show more sensitivity to benefit recipients.

DPW Secretary Bev Mackereth has previously cited concerns about the cost of the makeover.

"But in the year that I’ve been here and I’ve watched people who again believe we’re something we’re not, that becomes a concern because it becomes a barrier," she said.

Read more
Government & Politics
4:35 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Citing Funding Crisis, Nursing Facilities Ask for More State Aid

Nursing homes across Pennsylvania say they’re facing a funding crisis exacerbated by longer life expectancy, sicker patients as compared to two decades ago, and less federal aid for patients on Medicaid. Now they’re asking for state lawmakers for additional financial aid.

Managers of long-term care organizations say they’ve cut costs as much as they can. If they don’t get more state aid, they say more institutions will have to turn away Medicaid patients because reimbursement rates don’t match the costs of care.  

Read more
Government & Politics
7:41 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Proposals For New Community College in NW PA Prompt Concerns About Funding, Fairness

Community college presidents are questioning proposals to create a new community college in northwestern Pennsylvania.

They say it comes down to money – and fairness.

Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges are funded in part by a local sponsor – either school districts or county governments.

Plans to create a new northwestern community college would not require local sponsorship, allowing the school to be funded with state aid and tuition alone.

Read more
Gambling
4:35 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Senator: Small Games Rollout 'Worse Than Obamacare'

What if you threw a gambling party and nobody came? State lawmakers are nervous they’re about to find out.

Small games of chance were legalized in Pennsylvania bars and taverns last fall, and the licensing process began in late January. But applications for licenses aren’t rolling in.

Only six of the 16,000 eligible bars and taverns in Pennsylvania have applied to offer games like raffles and drawings in their establishments. The stakes are high — lawmakers were hoping tens of millions of dollars from barroom gambling would help balance the state budget.

Read more
Government & Politics
3:00 am
Mon February 17, 2014

PA Treasurer Weighs in on Corbett's Proposed Changes to Unclaimed Property Law

The state treasurer says part of the governor’s proposal to change the unclaimed property law should come with ramped-up enforcement of the state’s property law.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget assumes $150 million from a plan to shorten the holding time of unclaimed and inactive property, like bank accounts and insurance policies.

Treasurer Rob McCord, a Democrat also running for governor, said there are upsides and downsides to the plan.

Read more
Government & Politics
2:30 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Adjutant General Says Proposed Funding Cuts Won’t Put Suicide Prevention At Risk

The Corbett administration is assuring lawmakers federal programs can pick up the slack left by reduced state spending on veterans programs.

The governor’s budget proposal would reduce outreach services by 13 percent, or about $350,000.

In response to questions about suicide prevention efforts, Adjutant General Wesley Craig, commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard, says a two-year-old federal effort is doing the lion’s share of the work.

Read more
Government & Politics
10:38 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Department of Corrections Requesting $77 Million Increase For Next Fiscal Year

The head of the state prison system is reminding state lawmakers they’ve had a hand in the growing inmate population.

The Department of Corrections is requesting about $77 million more for the next fiscal year beginning in July, with most of the boost tied to personnel costs.

At a budget hearing, House lawmakers noted concern with the steady rise in spending at the agency.               

But Secretary John Wetzel said lawmakers shouldn’t be surprised, since many of them have helped pass legislation beefing up prison sentences.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:00 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Kane Pressed on Timeline of Sandusky Case Review

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is being pressed for answers on when she’ll wrap up an investigation of the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State assistant football coach and convicted child molester.

The internal review began a year ago when Kane hired an outside deputy attorney general, Geoff Moulton, to helm the investigation. Kane told the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday that releasing findings will take more time, since document recovery and scheduling interviews have slowed down the review.

Read more
Government & Politics
5:51 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

PA House Speaker Says He Won’t Run For Re-Election

Pennsylvania’s state House Speaker says he won’t run for re-election this year, after 27 years serving in the Legislature.

Sam Smith, a 14-term Republican legacy from Punxsutawney, said he just stopped enjoying the job.

“I wasn’t putting 100 percent into it, in the sense that I used to always say – no matter how bad and crazy things were around here – I could say, ‘Yeah but I still really enjoy my work, I really love the fights, the battles, the political wrangling that goes on,’” Smith said. “You need to really want to be doing it.”

Read more
Government & Politics
3:15 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

PA Budget Chief Defends Governor's Spending Plan

Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget secretary has started three weeks of budget hearings by defending the use of revenue predictions built into a proposed $29.4 billion spending plan.

Charles Zogby acknowledges the budget proposal rests, in part, on reducing the state’s payments into the two public pension systems — something that still requires action by the Legislature.

Read more
Education
3:30 am
Mon February 10, 2014

State Dems Take Issue With Corbett's Education Funding Proposal

State Democratic lawmakers are taking issue with how Gov. Tom Corbett is proposing to increase funding for public education.

The governor proposed a $240 million block grant which would come with spending restrictions and be doled out according to a formula.

But Chester County Sen. Andy Dinniman, ranking Democrat on the chamber’s education committee, said the formula differs from the one used under an existing block grant.

Read more
Government & Politics
3:19 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

PA Farm Bureau Commends the Corbett's Budget Proposal

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is commending the governor’s budget proposal for increasing funding to two programs key to the state’s leading industry.

Spokesman Mark O’Neill welcomes the proposed 9 percent increase, or roughly $2 million, to the Department of Agriculture’s general operations, which he says has seen cuts for the last several years.

Read more
State Government
11:56 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Corbett Looks to Spend More, Relying on Unresolved Items

Gov. Tom Corbett makes his budget proposal to state lawmakers Tuesday.
Credit pa.gov

Gov. Tom Corbett delivered his fourth budget address midday Tuesday, calling for more than $900 million in additional state spending over the current fiscal year.

A good chunk of Corbett’s proposed roughly 3 percent increase in state spending would go to education. About $300 million more would go toward a new block grant for schools, special education and early learning programs, and higher education scholarships.

The proposal also calls for continuing the phase out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax on business holdings, erasing the levy by 2016.

Read more
Government & Politics
2:57 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Allentown Mayor Pawlowski Exits Gubernatorial Race

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has ended his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

In so doing, he’s trumpeting his support for Democratic state Treasurer Rob McCord.

Pawlowski said he hopes the now seven-person field thins to minimize any intra-party bickering that he says would make it more likely that incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett secures a second term.

He says his decision comes down to money.

Read more
Government & Politics
7:45 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Revenge Porn Bill Faces Uncertain Future in PA House

The chairman of a state House committee says he’d like to move a proposal this spring to criminalize what’s been called "revenge porn."

The measure would make it a crime to post nude images of someone online with intent to harass the person pictured.

It has passed in the Senate, though its sponsor, Democratic Sen. Judy Schwank of Berks County, said she’s not sure how speedily the bill could advance in the House.

Read more
Government & Politics
9:28 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Lawmaker Says Bill to Prevent Child Abuse in Schools Mothballed by PA House

A state senator is urging his House colleagues to get moving on a proposal to prevent child abuse in Pennsylvania schools.

Philadelphia Democrat Tony Williams says his measure aims to stop what’s called “passing the trash” — allowing people accused of child sexual abuse to relocate to another school without their new employer being aware of their history.

He says his bill would require more thorough background checks, and make school districts exchange any records they have on prospective hires.

Read more

Pages