Property taxes in Montgomery County will increase by 11 percent next year after the Democratic county commissioners voted to raise taxes for the second consecutive year. The Republican commissioner, Joseph C. Gale, called the two years of tax raises "a clear indication that we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem." The increase will add $66 to the bill of the owner of a $300,000 home, the county average. "This is a tough budget, but it's a responsible budget," Commissioner Josh Shapiro said. "It's time that we make these tough choices, and it's time that we continue to move Montgomery County forward." Read more
A new high school will open in North Philadelphia next year. The School Reform Commission has approved a plan to sell the old Vaux High School to the Philadelphia Housing Authority for $2 million; the PHA will then renovate the Sharswood building and make it available for the Philadelphia School District to reopen as a neighborhood high school in September. The new Vaux will also offer a health and dental clinic, emotional and financial counseling, and other services. "We and our partners are building hundreds of homes, creating a commercial corridor, and moving our headquarters to the neighborhood, but this innovative school will provide the glue that binds the community together," PHA chief executive Kelvin Jeremiah said. Read more
The Philadelphia region should prepare for a precipitation-filled weekend. Snow is expected to fall overnight into Saturday, before shifting to a wintry mix, freezing rain and then rain later in the day. Philadelphia and its immediate suburbs are expected to see an inch or two of snow, with the possibility of up to six inches in the Poconos. Periods of rain showers are likely throughout both Saturday and Sunday. Read more
A bill that would let New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cash in on a book deal and give raises to cabinet officers, judges and lawmakers' staffs has advanced out of committees in the state Senate and Assembly. Legislators called the raises long overdue and expressed no reservations about changing state law to allow Christie to receive compensation if he writes a book while in office. Read more
Attorneys general in 20 states, including Pennsylvania, have sued six generic drug makers, accusing them of engaging in a conspiracy to reduce competition and raise drug prices. The six companies named in the suit are: Teva Pharmaceuticals USA in North Wales, Pa.; Mylan Pharmaceuticals in Canonsburg, Pa.; Heritage Pharmaceuticals of Eatontown, N.J.; Aurobindo Pharma USA in Dayton, N.J.; Citron Pharma in East Brunswick, N.J.; and Mayne Pharma USA in Raleigh, N.C. "This is huge news. Generic drugs are supposed to lower prices for consumers," said Michael A. Carrier, professor and antitrust law specialist at Rutgers Law School in Camden. "But when generic manufacturers get together to increase price, divide markets, and cover their tracks, the system falls apart." Read more