Tuesday, February 9, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 9: Watch Gov. Wolf’s Budget Address 11:30 am Today

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup February 9, 2016:
Watch Gov. Wolf’s Budget Address 11:30 am Today

RSVP Today for One of EPLC’s Education Policy Forum Series on Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 State Budget Proposal
Thursday, February 11, 2016 – Harrisburg
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - Philadelphia
Thursday, February 25, 2016 - Pittsburgh

Watch Gov. Wolf’s Budget Address 11:30 am Today
Senator Hughes website February 8, 2016
A good day to you, Writing to you today to let you know you can watch Gov. Tom Wolf’s live budget address tomorrow. You may do it online at governor.pa.gov/live.
The governor will begin his remarks a little after 11:30 a.m.
I will join my Senate Democratic colleagues in responding, and you can watch that at http://www.pasenate.com/budget-responses.

Standing Up For Taxpayers: House Republican Caucus to Hold PA State Budget Media Availability Immediately Following Budget Address
PA House Republican Caucus website 2/8/2016
Watch it live!  A live web stream of this press conference can be viewed at PAHouseGOP.com starting approximately five minutes after the governor’s budget address ends (the address will also be available live on the website). 
WHAT:    Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County), House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana County) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph (R-Delaware County) will discuss the state budget situation as Gov. Tom Wolf proposes a new spending plan for the 2016-17 fiscal year, while the current fiscal year budget is not yet complete.
WHO:    The House Republican Leadership team, as well as members of the House Republican Caucus.
WHEN:    Tuesday, Feb. 9
TIME:    Approximately five minutes after the governor completes the presentation of his budget to the Joint Session of the General Assembly. The governor is scheduled to begin his budget presentation at 11:30 a.m.

Questions grow in Pennsylvania’s confusing budget situation
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 02/08/16, 5:12 PM EST
HARRISBURG >> Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday with growing questions over the state government’s increasingly confusing budget situation, and with no answers on how they will solve it.  Billions of dollars for schools, prisons and hospitals this year are in limbo in a dispute between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature, a day before Wolf gives lawmakers what could be an approximately $32 billion spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.  The fight is prompting new questions from lawmakers about the governor’s legal authority to spend money without their approval. Meanwhile, talks on how to resolve this year’s battle are at a standstill.  “It’s sort of unclear how we move forward because we’re in uncharted territory,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, told a Pennsylvania Cable Network interviewer.

Wolf tasked with proposing new budget as stalemate lingers over current spending plan
By Kate Giammarise and Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau Feb. 9, 2016 6:00 AM
When Gov. Tom Wolf strides into the House chamber around 11:30 a.m. today, he will be in the unusual position of proposing a budget for next year while the budget for the current year — already seven months done — remains incomplete.  Mr. Wolf is about to deliver a second budget proposal with a familiar theme: boosting school funding while raising taxes to pay for automatic cost increases.  “There are no other issues,” Mr. Wolf said last week during an interview with the Post-Gazette. “We need to have an honest budget, that is funded with recurring revenue, and we need to have investment in education.”  Mr. Wolf said his spending proposal for the year beginning July 1 will total about $32 billion, including automatic increases in pension payments and other areas, and that balancing the budget will require raising the sales or personal income taxes or some combination of the two. The state’s Independent Fiscal Office projects a structural deficit of approximately $1.9 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

Gov. Tom Wolf looks for public support prior to another possible budget showdown with Legislature
Steve Esack Contact Reporter Morning Call Harrisburg Bureau February 8, 2016
Will Gov. Tom Wolf and Legislature reach a budget deal this election year?
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf appealed directly to Pennsylvanians on Monday about the state's fiscal affairs, warning tax increases are necessary just to meet current expenses. Without them, he said, deep education and service cuts will come.  The Democratic chief executive did so months after his first year's spending plan crashed against a Republican-majority Legislature, and on the eve of his second year's budget address to the same lawmakers at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.  "To the People of Pennsylvania," Monday's letter begins. "Our commonwealth is in crisis and we stand at a crossroad."  Down one path, the governor said, lies his budget plan, which is built upon an agreement his administration and Republican-controlled Senate could not get past the GOP-controlled House in December.  "It invests in our schools, meets critical human service needs, fully funds our pension and debt obligations, and eliminates the structural budget deficit that has plagued us since the Great Recession of 2008," Wolf wrote in the letter, posted to his blog.

Wolf readies second Pa. budget address amid wreckage of first year's spending fight
Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to deliver the second budget address of his term Tuesday, and he isn't sharing many details.  "You'll have to wait until Tuesday," Wolf told reporters last week.   But with Pennsylvania's current fiscal year's spending plan unresolved, the governor's speech is expected to hit familiar themes — including his belief that a tentative budget deal defeated last year can be resurrected.  "It was a process, but we actually did reach agreement," said Wolf.  For the past month, the governor has been unwilling to give up the ghost of the budget "framework" negotiated in the final months of 2015.

With second budget address, Wolf, lawmakers must do better: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on February 08, 2016 at 12:15 PM, updated February 08, 2016 at 5:13 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf shouldn't be at a loss for opening lines Tuesday as he unveils his 2016-17 budget proposal to a joint session of the state House and Senate:   "Stop me if you've heard this one" perhaps, or, "A funny thing happened on the way to this year's budget."   Yes, we're laughing to keep from crying.  In reality, there's very little funny about a state government that cannot accomplish its one overarching responsibility: Enacting a budget.  As the governor outlines his second state spending plan Tuesday, his first budget blueprint lies in tatters, a symbol not of effective government but legislative failure.  It's all a little awkward. And very unnecessary.  What should have been a cooperative effort at meeting the needs of state residents through political compromise quickly devolved – and, worse, calcified – into a stubborn standoff between a new Democratic governor and an expanded Republican legislative majority.

Five things we know about Gov. Tom Wolf's second-year budget
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on February 08, 2016 at 8:35 AM, updated February 08, 2016 at 9:44 AM
On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf will be delivering the second budget address of his administration to the Legislature that will sound similar to what he proposed last year but didn't completely get.  With his Year One budget still incomplete, Pennsylvanians can expect him to advocate the need for fixing the structural deficit – the gap between recurring expenses and available revenues – with sustainable revenue sources and more funding for education.  Last week, he made some pre-budget announcements and statements to indicate as much. Here are five things we know he will be seeking:

Hold on to your wallets: Here comes another Pennsylvania budget
Penn Live Slideshow by Charles Thompson February 8, 2016

The GOP's #PaBudget rhetoric doesn't add up: Wendell Young IV
PennLive Op-Ed  By Wendell Young IV on February 08, 2016 at 2:00 PM, updated February 08, 2016 at 8:06 PM
Wendell Young IV is the president of Local 1776 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents thousands of state liquor store employees.
The math driving Harrisburg's budget stalemate is daunting enough: The state faces a $2 billion deficit that will balloon much higher in the coming years unless lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf agree on a way to close it.  School districts have been compelled to borrow more than $1 billion to keep the doors open and, at some point, taxpayers will have to cover the costs for those loans.  But Pennsylvanians would do well to remember that, beyond the math, words matter and, so far, much of the GOP's rhetoric coming out of the state Capitol just doesn't add up.  Some GOP leaders insist that it is just not possible to pass a state budget without enacting so-called pension "reform" legislation.  But these same leaders know better: they worked with ex-Gov. Tom Corbett to enact four budgets in a row without bothering to hold the governor hostage for a pension bill.  And they know that any pension-related legislation would have virtually zero impact on a state budget that is almost eight months late already. They're holding Governor Wolf and every school student in the state hostage, plain and simple.

Ahead of Wolf’s budget plan, Republicans discuss Marcellus tax bills
A day before Governor Tom Wolf is expected to unveil another attempt at taxing Marcellus Shale drillers, House Republicans were discussing their own proposals.  The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held an informational meeting Monday to look at two Republican-backed severance tax bills. Rep. John Maher (R- Allegheny) chairs the committee. He says he wants to make sure any new tax won’t hurt the state’s business climate.  “This industry that was once in a boom, is now in a bust,” he says. “And ultimately, we need to have a safe environment, but we need to be the best place for the drilling and production of natural gas.”  One of Wolf’s central campaign pledges in the race for governor involved enacting a Marcellus Shale tax, but he was unsuccessful in getting one last year during protracted budget negotiations with the legislature. He is expected to renew the effort in his second budget address Tuesday.

Pennsylvania House committee takes up gas-tax plans
By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 9, 2016 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — The state House energy committee on Monday began weighing two Republican proposals for a natural gas severance tax, a subject many in the party have considered poisonous but which the committee chairman now says he expects “will consume a lot of time and attention.”  The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee did not endorse either bill during the informational meeting, but chairman Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair, said the bills proposed by two southeastern Pennsylvania Republicans offer possible directions for future discussions.  “I think that there are many people who are open to the idea of a properly crafted severance tax,” he said.  Pennsylvania has imposed an annual impact fee on shale gas wells since 2012. It is unlike the levies imposed by other major natural gas producing states, which are based on the price or volume of extracted gas.

Eichelberger: Pa. Gov. Wolf spending 'potentially illegal'
Trib Live BY BRAD BUMSTED  | Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Members of a joint Senate panel on Monday grilled Treasury Department officials about why the state will release money to pay agency bills when the Legislature hasn't approved final spending numbers as required by the state constitution.  Several senators said doing so tips the “balance of power” toward Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who oversees agencies. It is “potentially illegal,” said Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Altoona.  It's just one of the complications the Legislature faces in dealing with two budgets at once. Wolf signed a partial 2015-16 budget in December but vetoed $6.3 billion in funding, said Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler. That left the current budget unfinished.

'Sunshine' questions loom over Philadelphia School Reform Commission resolution
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission is facing widespread questions about whether it acted illegally when it quickly passed a new resolution during its January meeting.  Critics allege the body violated the state's government transparency laws.  Late into January's five hour SRC meeting, Commissioner Sylvia Simms introduced a surprise motion. The text of the resolution was not given to the public beforehand, and the body did not invite public comment on that specific resolution before voting.  Simms' resolution, which immediately passed, resuscitated the idea of converting Germantown's Wister Elementary to a charter school.  Technically, the resolution invited a full application from Mastery Charter Schools to take over Wister.  Superintendent William Hite had pitched conversion of Wister in October, but rescinded his recommendation in early January based on evidence of test score growth at the school.
Those who opposed the conversion felt blindsided by the surprise resolution. Many who otherwise would have come to testify against it say they stayed home because they were assured by the superintendent that conversion was no longer a possibility.

WATCH: What is the Sunshine Act?
LANCASTERONLINE | Staff Updated Feb 5, 2016 Video Runtime 1:25
The Sunshine Act is a Pennsylvania law that requires government agencies to conduct deliberation or official action, such as voting, in public meetings. It applies to bodies like school boards, township supervisors boards and city councils.  Watch the video below to learn more about the Sunshine Act and why it matters.

Districts statewide share how the budget impasse has impacted them and their students
PSBA website February 8, 2016
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) recently conducted a survey with districts to determine what impact the budget impasse has had on them currently and in the future. The results show that districts have made difficult decisions and continue to do so. Some have had to borrow money, miss payments or halt programs due to the budget impasse. The association received survey responses from 195 districts in 57 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.  The problems for school districts are compounded by the fact that at the same time that they are unsure of what additional funding they will receive for the remainder of the current 2015-16 school year, they are required to be developing their 2016-17 budgets. Certainly this budget season is far from the normal course of business, but the laws that dictate the rules and timeframes for the creation of local spending plans force districts to make decisions without all of the facts at hand.

Budget impasse could cost Phoenixville taxpayers $3M
By Eric Devlin, The Mercury POSTED: 02/08/16, 7:10 PM EST | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Phoenixville >> Taxpayers could be left to foot a $3 million bill in the Phoenixville Area School District thanks to Harrisburg’s failure to pass a budget.  In order to move forward with the second phase of construction of the Early Learning Center and Elementary School, the school district needs to complete an estimated $4.6 million project that widens Pothouse Road and reconstructs the intersection at Pothouse Road and Route 29.  The district applied for a state grant from the multimodal transportation fund, which provides grants of up to $3 million to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.  However, due to the state’s seven-month-long budget stalemate, Phoenixville can’t get anyone to approve the grant application and time is running out before phase two of construction has to start. If the district were to begin construction without an approved application, it loses any chance of getting the grant money.

"On the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s 2015 School Performance Profile for the school, Penn Wood, the only school in the district to offer AP exams and SATs, is listed as being 94 percent black and 72 percent economically disadvantaged."
William Penn School District lands on two honor rolls for AP, SAT performance
By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com@KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 02/08/16, 9:52 PM EST | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
The William Penn School District has the distinction of being the only school district in Pennsylvania to be named to the College Board’s AP District Honor Roll and the Gaston Caperton Opportunity Honor Roll for 2015, lists that recognize academic achievement on Advanced Placement exams and the SATs.  Announced Feb. 5, the Gaston Caperton Honor Roll recognized 130 districts in the country for “creating opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students.”  “The districts featured on the honor roll have expanded access to higher education by providing students with rigorous academic offerings and innovative college-preparation programs. Districts on the honor roll demonstrate significant and consistent growth in the number of underrepresented and low-income students taking college-level courses, and applying to four or more colleges,” stated a College Board press release.

“Our revenues are flat and our expenditures continue to rise,” he told the board. “That leaves us a lot of unknowns.”  He used retirement contributions as one example, noting that the district's contribution has risen from $1.2 million four years ago to $4.3 million last year."
Highlands School District's budget clouded by rising costs, uncertainty over funding
Trib Live BY TOM YERACE | Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, 11:35 p.m.
There's good news and bad news regarding Highlands School District's budget.  The good news is, despite the state's budget impasse, Highlands hasn't incurred any debt because of it, said John Rupert, district business manager.  “I think there was a report in the newspaper that school districts have borrowed over a billion dollars,” Rupert said. “We haven't borrowed anything.”  Also, Solicitor Ira Weiss said that state budget-induced debt has lowered the bond rating of some of those school districts.  “We're staying the same, and that is a credit to the district,” Weiss said. As for the bad news on the budget, Rupert said the political impasse on the state budget gives little indication on how to proceed locally.  He said, initially, Gov. Tom Wolf's education funding proposal would have given a $700,000 to $800,000 increase to Highlands, which received about $13 million in total state aid last year.  “I think in January they came out with a proposal in which we would get $460,000 less,” Rupert said.

Commenters Clash on What ESSA Rules Should Look Like
Next steps on ESSA mulled
Education Week By Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa Published Online: February 8, 2016
Everyone from governors and state lawmakers down to advocates and parents has an opinion on how the U.S. Department of Education should go about turning the sometimes-murky verbiage of the Every Student Succeeds Act into actual federal regulations—and more than 350 of them laid those opinions out during a quick-turnaround written comment period.  An Education Week review of selected comments found many respondents offering detailed—and often contradictory—advice when it comes to the law's provisions on accountability, test participation, assessment, teacher qualifications, and more.

PSBA Members Budget Update Webinar
FEB 12, 2016 • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Join PSBA Assistant Executive Director of Public Policy John Callahan as he hosts PA Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera to discuss the proposed 2016-17 state budget. Participants will learn about issues impacting public education related to the budget impasse and the recent release of emergency funding to school districts during this live, complimentary members-only webinar.
PLEASE NOTE: Registration is only open to PSBA members. All registrations must be manually verified before links are sent so please allow for a delay in receiving this information. We cannot guarantee receipt of this information in time if registering less than one hour before the presentation starts at noon on Feb. 12.

Public Interest Law Center: Discipline, Truancy and More
Philadelphia, PA Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM
This seminar is designed to address disciplinary issues. The presentation will include disciplinary rights of students not yet identified for special education services or 504 plans; the disciplinary rights of students with IEPs and 504 plans, and an advocate’s view of assisting families with truancy issues.  Tickets range from $50 (webinar) to $200 (private attorneys), and there is a "Pay What You Can Option" so that no one is turned away from this important program. 
CLE credit is available for attorneys licensed in Pennsylvania that attend the seminar in person.
Questions? Contact Michael at mberton@pilcop.org or call 267.546.1303.

"Southeastern Region Forum Series"Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Networking and Coffee - 9:30 a.m. Program - 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Penn Center for Educational Leadership (5th Floor)
University of Pennsylvania - 3440 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104-3325
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
An Overview of the Proposed 2016-2017 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Representative of The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth
Deborah Gordon Klehr, Executive Director, Education Law Center
Dr. George Steinhoff, Superintendent, Penn Delco School District
One or more representatives of other statewide and regional organizations are still to be confirmed.
RSVP for Southeastern Forum on-line at

"Capital Region Forum Series" Thursday, February 11, 2016
Continental Breakfast - 8:00 a.m. Program - 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Harrisburg Hilton Hotel - Two North Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17101
SUBJECT: Governor Wolf's Proposed Education Budget for 2016-2017
An Overview of the Proposed 2016-2017 State Budget and Education Issues Will Be Provided By:
Representative of The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By:
Dr. Brian Barnhart, Executive Director, Lancaster-Lebanon IU #13
Thomas Gluck, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units
Representatives of other statewide and regional organizations are still to be confirmed.
While there is no registration fee, seating is limited and an RSVP is required.
RSVP for Harrisburg Forum on-line at 

PSBA New School Director Training Remaining Locations:
  • North Central area —Feb. 13 Mansfield University, Mansfield
PSBA New School Director Training
School boards who will welcome new directors after the election should plan to attend PSBA training to help everyone feel more confident right from the start. This one-day event is targeted to help members learn the basics of their new roles and responsibilities. Meet the friendly, knowledgeable PSBA team and bring everyone on your “team of 10” to get on the same page fast.
  • $150 per registrant (No charge if your district has a LEARN PassNote: All-Access members also have LEARN Pass.)
  • One-hour lunch on your own — bring your lunch, go to lunch, or we’ll bring a box lunch to you; coffee/tea provided all day
  • Course materials available online or we’ll bring a printed copy to you for an additional $25
  • Registrants receive one month of 100-level online courses for each registrant, after the live class

Save the Dates for These 2016 Annual EPLC Regional State Budget Education Policy Forums
Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Thursday, February 11 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Harrisburg
Wednesday, February 17 - 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. - Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania)
Thursday, February 25 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Pittsburgh
Invitation and more details in January

Attend the United Opt Out Conference in Philadelphia February 26-28
United Opt Out: The Movement to End Corporate Reform will hold its annual conference on Philadelphia from February 26-28.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will host its Annual Budget Summit on Thursday, March 3, 2016 9:00 - 3:30 at the Hilton Harrisburg.
PA Budget and Policy Center website
Join us for an in-depth look at the Governor's 2016-17 budget proposal, including what it means for education, health and human services, and local communities. The Summit will focus on the leading issues facing the commonwealth in 2016, with workshops, lunch, and a legislative panel discussion.  Space is limited, so fill out the form below to reserve your spot at the Budget Summit.
Thursday, March 3, 2016 Hilton Hotel, Harrisburg Pennsylvania
The event is free, but PBPC welcomes donations of any size to help off-set costs.

PASBO 61st Annual Conference and Exhibits March 8 - 11, 2016
Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

PenSPRA's Annual Symposium, Friday April 8th in Shippensburg, PA
PenSPRA, or the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association, has developed a powerhouse line-up of speakers and topics for a captivating day of professional development in Shippensburg on April 8th. Learn to master data to defeat your critics, use stories to clarify your district's brand and take your social media efforts to the next level with a better understanding of metrics and the newest trends.  Join us the evening before the Symposium for a “Conversation with Colleagues” from 5 – 6 pm followed by a Networking Social Cocktail Hour from 6 – 8 pm.  Both the Symposium Friday and the social events on Thursday evening will be held at the Shippensburg University Conference Center. Snacks at the social hour, and Friday’s breakfast and lunch is included in your registration cost. $125 for PenSPRA members and $150 for non-members. Learn more about our speakers and topics and register today at this link:

The Network for Public Education 3rd Annual National Conference April 16-17, 2016 Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Network for Public Education is thrilled to announce the location for our 3rd Annual National Conference. On April 16 and 17, 2016 public education advocates from across the country will gather in Raleigh, North Carolina.  We chose Raleigh to highlight the tremendous activist movement that is flourishing in North Carolina. No one exemplifies that movement better than the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who will be the conference keynote speaker. Rev. Barber is the current president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the National NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee, and the founder of Moral Mondays.

2016 PA Educational Leadership Summit July 24-26 State College
Summit Sponsors: PA Principals Association - PA Association of School Administrators - PA Association of Middle Level Educators - PA Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development 
The 2016 Educational Leadership Summit, co-sponsored by four leading Pennsylvania education associations, provides an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together at a quality venue in "Happy Valley." 
Featuring Grant Lichtman, author of EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera (invited), and Dana Lightman, author of POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have... Create the Success You Want, keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics and district team planning and job alike sessions provides practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit before returning back to your district.   Register and pay by April 30, 2016 for the discounted "early bird" registration rate:

Interested in letting our elected leadership know your thoughts on education funding, a severance tax, property taxes and the budget?
Governor Tom Wolf, (717) 787-2500

Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai, (717) 772-9943
House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed, (717) 705-7173
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati, (717) 787-7084
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jake Corman, (717) 787-1377

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