February 07, 2017 Budget News, Press Release, Seniors Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf outlined a different approach for Pennsylvania’s budget by tackling a $3 billion deficit without raising taxes on families, while protecting schools, seniors, and resources used to battle the opioid epidemic, in addition to creating new tools for manufacturing and small businesses.The governor’s budget eliminates the deficit by identifying cuts and savings initiatives in excess of $2 billion, imposing a severance tax, and closing corporate loopholes. Additionally, this budget bolsters education at all levels by increasing support by $209 million, expands efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, protects programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities, and makes new investments in job training.“I’m offering a budget proposal that represents a responsible solution to our deficit challenge – and a different approach from the way things have been done in Harrisburg for almost a generation. Let’s start here: In my proposed budget, there are no broad-based tax increases,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “At the same time, my budget protects the investments we’ve made in education, in senior services, in fighting the scourge of opioids, and in growing Pennsylvania’s economy.“This proposal also closes corporate loopholes that have helped big companies avoid paying their fair share. I have nothing against successful businesses. I used to run one. But Pennsylvania families are already paying too much to help fund our government. And when big corporations get special treatment, Pennsylvania families and small businesses wind up shouldering more of a burden than they can bear.”Finding Savings, Cutting Bureaucracy and Eliminating WasteSince his first months in office, Governor Wolf has focused on finding savings in state government, eliminating waste and bureaucracy in Harrisburg and shrinking the size of state government so that we can provide better services to Pennsylvanians and protect families and seniors. This budget takes on tax loopholes and corporate handouts, rather than asking middle class families for more of their hard-earned money.“By identifying specific programs that could be working more efficiently – and others that are no longer working at all – this budget proposes reforms that, altogether, will save taxpayers more than $2 billion,” Governor Wolf said.The governor’s $2 billion in cuts and savings rely on reforming government, eliminating waste and modernizing and improving state services for customers by getting rid of red tape and bureaucracy – not slashing important programs. This budget would also put the commonwealth back on a path of long-term fiscal stability by growing the rainy day fund from only $245,000 to nearly $500 million in five years.Investing in our Children’s FutureFair and increased education funding for all Pennsylvania schools continues to be one of Governor Wolf’s top priorities in the budget to ensure students are college and career ready.“Over the past two years, we’ve taken a different approach – instead of allowing schools to become the first casualty of our budget deficit, we’ve made them our first priority,” Wolf said. “We’ve undone nearly two-thirds of those short-sighted cuts to our public school system and we’ve made a historic investment in education for the commonwealth.”The governor’s budget proposal includes a $100 million increase in Basic Education Funding, a $25 million increase in Special Education Funding, a $75 million increase in high-quality early childhood education, and $8.9 million increase for the 14 universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.Creating Jobs that Pay for the Middle-ClassThe governor’s budget includes $5 million in a manufacturing training-to-career grant partnership and creates a new apprenticeship grant program funded with revenue recovered from companies that fail to live up to commitments for job creation under economic development programs.Additionally, this plan would generate $95 million in revenue annually by raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $12.00 per hour, while tying it to inflation to maintain its purchasing power over time. Governor Wolf’s budget also creates a one-stop shop for small businesses in DCED to consolidate functions across departments and make it easier for businesses to start and grow.Investing in What Matters Most to PennsylvaniansFor many years, the commonwealth has faced grave budget challenges. The previous administration, when faced with these challenges, slashed funding for schools and our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians while employing shifty accounting maneuvers that only worsened our shortfall in the long run.By creating a new, unified Department of Health and Human Services by merging four separate agencies, Pennsylvania will be able to provide more streamlined services to older Pennsylvanians. This will result in less confusion and easier access as constituents and their families seek services and will bolster resources for seniors seeking prescription drug assistance and care in their own homes.Governor Wolf has taken a different approach in order to protect services that matter most to Pennsylvanians. The 2017-2018 budget continues to invest in battling the opioid epidemic by placing significant emphasis on expanding access to treatment and diverting those suffering from substance use disorder away from the criminal justice system and into supportive programs. This budget also provides $26.2 million to move individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism from the waiting list and protects the lottery fund and programs that seniors depend on.The transcript of the budget address as prepared is available here.Pennsylvanians can find out more about Governor Wolf’s budget at governor.pa.gov/budget.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Different Approach for Pennsylvania: Governor Wolf’s Budget Cuts Costs, Protects Education and Seniors
“It aims to help investors understand how and why ESG factors are incorporated in a product and investment strategy and how that may suit their needs, whatever those needs may be, which may go beyond environmental sustainability,” he said.With regard to the Eurosif code, Fidler said this was primarily for a retail audience while the CFA Institute standard was envisaged as being helpful for professional institutional investors and advisers as well.“Additionally, our standard will contain procedures for testing and assurance,” he added.ESG-related features, needsThe association intends that the standard it is working on apply to investment products, without extending to an asset manager’s organisation. This is arguably another difference with the SFDR, which foresees entity-level reporting for certain entities. A key concept of the envisaged standard is that of ESG-related features. CFA Institute said these were expected to serve as the backbone of the standard “in that they are a mechanism to connect investor needs and disclosure requirements”.Six such features are being proposed: ESG integration; ESG-related exclusions; best-in-class; ESG-related thematic focus; impact objective; and proxy voting, engagement and stewardship.The consultation paper sets out a proposed definition of each feature, which in turn consists of six components, including the feature’s function, the benefit, and “alignments” – how the feature’s definition aligns with other organisations’ definitions.The consultation paper does not set out disclosure requirements themselves, but for each feature identifies “types of issues to be addressed by disclosure requirements”.A series of questions are asked about each feature, such as whether the proposed definition is clear and, for certain suggested features, sufficiently distinct.As concerns ESG-related investor needs, CFA Institute has identified five, also distinguishing them from the motivation behind them. It has also proposed a ”matrix” showing the relationship between ESG-related needs and features (see below).Transparency, not ‘cheerleading’The problem CFA Institute is seeking to address with its standard is the inconsistency and variation in ESG-related terms, investment approaches and disclosures.“There is enormous confusion,” said Gary Baker, managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at CFA Institute, during the media briefing. “The primary aim of what this standard is trying to do is bring a degree of order out of that chaos.”The consultation paper emphasises that the forthcoming standard would not be about defining what constitutes an ESG or sustainable investment product or strategy, or pronounce on the relative strength of different approaches.Instead, the intention is to provide greater transparency and comparability for investors by enabling asset managers to communicate more clearly communicate the ESG-related features of investment products with such features.“We are not trying to be cheerleaders on any this, we’re trying to offer full, fair information to people that can then utilise it to make their own decisions,” said Baker.In going for a disclosure-based standard CFA Institute is leaning on its experience with its Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS). Fidler said the standard is “distinctly different from other standards that seek to establish disclosure requirements for corporate issuers, prescribe requirements for the labeling or rating of securities or investment products, or define best practice for a particular strategy or approach”.The consultation paper was developed with input from 15 investment professionals working as volunteers in the context of an ESG working group that was formed in January year.CFA Institute is now looking for volunteers to support the next phase of the standard’s development. It is looking to form two committes, a verification committee and a technical committee.The consultation paper and response reform can be found here.CFA Institute’s proposed ESG-related features-needs matrix#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. It has identified two other regulations or initiatives in this category: the SFDR, which is one of the regulations that has resulted from the European Commission’s 2018 sustainable finance action plan, and the Eurosif European SRI Transparency Code.Fidler explained that the CFA standard would be different to both. About the SFDR, he said its requirements were “geared to help investors understand the sustainability of investment products” but that the CFA Institute standard would be broader. The ESG disclosure standards that CFA Institute is working towards will be “broader” than the EU’s sustainable finance disclosure regulation (SFDR), the lead on the former’s project told journalists yesterday afternoon.Chris Fidler, senior director, global industry standards at CFA Institute, was speaking during a media briefing about the launch of a consultation paper about the investment professionals association’s proposals for the scope, structure and design principles for the envisaged standard.It is looking for feedback on these aspects by 19 October, with a plan to publish an initial version of the proposed disclosure requirements for the standard in May next year.In pursuing the development of a standard, CFA Institute has taken the view that, despite a wealth of existing and developing ESG-related regulations, standards, labels, and initiatives, there was, according to Fidler, “still a place for CFA Institute to contribute, specifically in the establishment of specifications for investment product disclosures”.
The endangered female gray wolf seen on the north rim of the Grand Canyon in the fall of 2014 is the same animal a hunter killed in Utah later that year, a new genetic analysis reveals. The researchers compared DNA from tissue samples from the dead wolf with DNA taken from wolf scat collected near the canyon in November. The two were a match, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today. The lone wolf (pictured) was wearing a radio collar at the time of her death, and FWS identified her as 914F. She’d been collared near Cody, Wyoming, on 8 January 2014, but by the time she reached Arizona it had stopped working, and efforts to capture her and replace it failed. Researchers don’t know the route she took to reach the Grand Canyon, but she likely traveled more than 700 kilometers on that journey—becoming the first wolf in northern Arizona since the animals were exterminated there 70 years ago. Conservationists hailed her appearance in the region as a sign that the recovery of the gray wolf is still in its early stages, with plenty of habitat as yet unoccupied. They also said she demonstrated that FWS’s ongoing attempts to remove the canines from the protection of the Endangered Species Act are premature. Yet even with those protections, wolf 914F, thought to be about 3 years old, died at the hands of humans. The man who shot her was a Utah state–authorized coyote bounty hunter. He apparently mistook the wolf for a coyote and shot her in the Tushar Mountains, about 320 kilometers north of the Grand Canyon. The investigation into her killing continues.