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Budget Impasse Update
As we move into the third month without a state budget, I want to update you on what has been taking place on that front. Legislative leaders continue to meet with Governor Wolf and his staff, but there has been little, if any progress. Basically, Republicans remain steadfastly opposed to the Governor’s massive broad-based tax increases and he has yet to concede an inch on that issue.
In an effort to move the process forward, legislative leaders recently offered a substantial increase in education funding on the condition that the Governor accept a modified public pension reform proposal. Even though pensions are the primary reason for increases in school budgets – and property taxes – the Governor continues to support his special interest backers over the citizens of Pennsylvania and has rejected all efforts to reform the systems.
Unfortunately, the budget stalemate is taking its toll on school districts and vital social programs. As I noted last month, this situation would never have arisen had the Governor not taken the unprecedented step of vetoing the entire budget that the legislature sent him on June 30 -- even though more than two-thirds of the line items in that spending package were at or over the amounts he originally requested.
On August 25, House Republicans, led by my friend and colleague Representative Dave Reed, attempted to provide funding for rape crisis centers, domestic violence services, PHEAA grants, school transportation and other seemingly non-controversial and non-contested line items, but were thwarted by their Democratic colleagues. Had those measures moved out of the House, the Senate stood ready to immediately act to provide that financial relief to schools and service agencies.
Finally, I’d like to address two other baseless charges that have been leveled at the Legislature by special interest groups and editorial boards that support the Governor’s budget priorities.
First, is the chant that the Legislature must “act on the budget.”
We did – more than two months ago.
We sent the Governor a budget that, as has been noted, maintained or increased funding for more than two-thirds of the line items. We have yet to hear a counterproposal from the Governor beyond his March 3 wish list.
Second, those same groups are chanting the mantra that the Legislature should march lockstep behind the push for higher taxes and increased spending simply because the Governor received a mandate from the voters.
I don’t know if this “mandate” is clear, but from talking with people around the area I know it certainly wasn’t for the huge income tax hike and cradle-to-grave sales tax increases that he is proposing.
Legislators also receive a mandate from their constituents and those are the guidelines that direct my actions in Harrisburg.
The Administration would do well to remember that its constituency is all of the people of Pennsylvania and not just certain geographic areas and special interest groups.
Kudos to Good Citizenship Award Winner – Braden Staats
Surplus State Heavy Equipment Set for Auction
The state Department of General Services recently announced the dates for its annual fall heavy equipment auctions for municipalities and the public.
The online auction for municipalities is now open and will close on September 9. The public online auction will begin on September 29 and close on October 7.
Seventy-five items up for bid in the State Surplus Property Program auction include dump trucks, tractors, skid steers, lifts, trenchers, loaders and more. The inventory is being staged at the Western Pennsylvania Training Facility, 38 Academy Lane, Cheswick, and can be viewed online at http://auctionsbygov.com/.Municipalities interested in participating in the auction can register by contacting Clint Francis at (724) 630-6615 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals and businesses can register for the public auction online at www.Auctionsbygov.com.
PENNDOT Launches Website Detailing Road and Bridge Projects
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation this week launched a website highlighting information about active and upcoming construction projects through 2026.
The website, www.projects.pennDOT.gov, details past, present and future construction projects funded by Act 89, as well as projects that fall under the Four- and Twelve-Year Plans. Projects are searchable by county, PENNDOT Engineering District and statewide.
In addition to highway construction projects, the website details bridge and public transportation projects as well. Act 89, approved in 2013, provides funding for all modes of transportation, including improvements to 5,000 state-owned miles of roads and 600 bridges.
Enjoy our local fairs
Summer may be winding down, but there is still time to spend the day at one of our local fairs, including the Indiana County Fair (August 29-September 5), the Ox Hill Community Fair (September 7-12) and the Cookport Fair (September 13-19). I encourage everyone to come on out with your friends and neighbors and enjoy a local fair.
Mark your calendar
Representatives Dave Reed and Cris Dush and I will co-host a Senior Expo on Thursday, October 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the S&T Bank Area, White Township Recreation Complex, 497 East Pike Road, Indiana.
The expo will provide you with information regarding the following services: Health Care, Insurance, Nutrition and Exercise, Fire Safety, Financial Planning Benefit Programs, Personal Safety, and Health Screenings.
Flu shots will be available. Please note that a Prescription Drug Take Back is being held during the expo. Collection is anonymous. Please remove any personal information from containers. Accepted: Prescription/over the counter dosage medications, liquid medications, creams & ointments, nasal sprays, inhalers and pet meds.
For more information, contact my Indiana County District Office at (724) 357-0151.
286 Main Capitol