SCOTUS To Consider Case That Could Increase State Sales Tax Revenue

WASHINGTON DC (WSKG) -- The US Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could change how online sales are taxed. It's an issue that might sound a little familiar to Pennsylvanians--lawmakers tried to improve online sales tax collections in last year's budget, as the state struggled to find enough revenue balance its books. The case is likely to come before the high court in April. Justices will decide whether to uphold a South Dakota decision maintaining a long-held standard: if a seller doesn't have a physical location in a state, they don't have to charge sales taxes there. It's an issue that may have lost state and local governments around $13 billion last year, according to the Congressional Government Accountability Office.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court To Decide If State Congressional District Map Is A Partisan Gerrymander

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - Pennsylvania’s congressional district map is often considered one of the most gerrymandered in the United States, but is it unconstitutional? And if so, how do you fix it? Those are the central questions the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will weigh when hearing oral arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit that has the potential to change the state’s political landscape. The case was initiated by 18 voters, all Democrats, and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs claim Republican lawmakers, who drew the congressional map, violated their state constitutional rights, and are requesting the court to order the state legislature to draw a new map before the primary elections in May.

If Not PA Taxpayers, Who Should Pay Off Sexual Harassment Claims?

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- As new details emerge on at least $1.5 million Pennsylvania has spent to settle sexual harassment cases over the last eight years, calls are increasing for the state to change its policies. But a number of lawmaker are struggling to find solutions that will work for every situation. The latest report--from the Associated Press--concerns a $900,000 sexual harassment settlement the state paid in a 2016 case that involved a Department of Revenue administrator. Other recent stories have revealed similar settlements involving elected officials. Even though all the cases involve shades of harassment, it can be very different to settle one with a lawmaker than with a regular state or legislative employee.

PA’s Auditor General Renews Calls For Expanded Authority

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is outlining a plan for the new year that includes a request for more authority. The nonpartisan elected officer can't investigate legislative spending or municipal authorities--despite years of pushes to allow it. DePasquale--a former House Democrat who's now in his second term as auditor general--said Monday, a spate of recent revelations that the General Assembly has paid hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims is one of the reasons he wants the ability to audit them. "I guarantee you, 90 percent of the members--if not higher--had no idea that took place," he said. "So if members didn't know, imagine the outrage from taxpayers that that money was being used to settle those lawsuits."

Ex-Governor Looks Back At Sandusky Case, Fallout

HARRISBURG (WSKG) - In a rare interview, former Republican Governor Tom Corbett has returned to one of the issues that dogged him late in his lone term in office--the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. Corbett told Radio PA "mistakes were made" in the handling of the situation. In the aftermath of Corbett's loss to Democrat Tom Wolf, it was a common theory that the Republican's seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees had hurt him politically. The board voted to fire Paterno for under-reporting Sandusky's abuse. Corbett said he certainly sees a connection.

Pennsylvania Revenue Collection In Flux Due To New Federal Tax Law

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - Spurred by changes in the federal tax law, Pennsylvania business owners seem to have rushed to pay their state income taxes early in hopes of taking advantage of uncapped deductions on their 2017 federal returns. Matthew Knittel, director of the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office, says the commonwealth’s general fund revenue through the first half of the fiscal year came in $95 million above projections, a difference of 0.7 percent. He said the biggest increase had to do with business owners and those with capital gains paying taxes at the end of 2017 what would normally be due this month. “Individuals, due to the federal tax reform and the state and local deduction, paid their taxes a little earlier than they usually do. So we think some of the money we would have received in January was remitted in December of this year,” he said.

Fearing Financial “Crisis,” Auditor Will Review PA Turnpike Commission Again

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- The beleaguered Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is under review for the second time in less than two years. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale acknowledged, it's unusual for him to audit an agency twice in such a short time. But he said he has "grave concerns" about the turnpike's practice of repeatedly raising tolls, largely to pay for its $450 million-a-year obligation to PennDOT. It also pays hundreds of millions in debt-service on the money it borrows to make those payments. The money goes toward things like public transportation

"What we want to analyze is their belief...that despite the increase in tolls, they'll have increased traffic," DePasquale said.

PA Judge Allows Budget Constitutionality Case To Proceed

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- A state judge has allowed a lawsuit over budgeting practices to proceed. The suit alleges top elected officials have violated the Pennsylvania constitution in the last two years by passing budgets without fully funding them, and borrowing money to pay off a previous year's debt. Two years ago, a spending plan passed just after the June deadline, but it took lawmakers weeks to finalize how to pay for it. The situation reoccurred last year, with the deadlock stretching four months. Matt Brouillette, a conservative who runs the advocacy group Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs Inc., is one of the complainants in the case

He said he's worried the state will continue to see bigger deficits and a continuing pattern of unbalanced budgets if the state's practices aren't better-policed.

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Set Agendas For 2018

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Lawmakers won't truly start their 2018 session until late this month. But they're already laying out legislative agendas for the new year. Many of the top priorities aren't much different from last year's. Democrats and Republicans all named job creation among their primary goals. House Democratic Spokesman Bill Patton also said his caucus is particularly focused on raising the minimum wage.