The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 25, 2013

State Rep.: Thruway project would create 10,000 jobs

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

— MONTANDON — Lawmakers in Harrisburg are still trying to work out their top three priorities - transportation, liquor privatization and pension reform - things constituents are also very concerned about, according to a group of out 20 that gathered in Montandon Friday morning.

In a breakfast meeting hosted by State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver in Montandon and gave constituents a chance to give Culver their input, while Culver updated the group about progress in Harrisburg.

The state legislature is still working on its three priorities identified by Gov. Corbett this spring, which failed to pass before the July 1 budget deadline. But that doesn’t mean the issues are off the table, Culver said.

“The budget (has a deadline),” she said. “But those issues don’t.”

Culver - and the group of constituents - focused on the transportation bill, which includes the $558 Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project.

“(The Thruway) impacts a six county area,” Culver said. “When I think of it, I think of the borough of Northumberland, which gets backed up on any given day and just gridlocked.”

The Thruway project would also create 10,000 jobs in the area, while attracting businesses along the Thruway corridor, Culver said.

The transportation bill as a whole is also an important safety measure, with funding in the bill including for many bridge improvements across the state, Culver said. The poor condition of the bridges is also impacting the state’s economy.

“We’re getting complaints from (businesses about weight limits),” she said.

However, Culver admitted that the bill will raise the gas tax, through Culver said she “can’t tell you how much.”

One constituent laid it on the table for Culver.

“Are we really going to get it?” she asked.

“If we pass (the transportation bill),” Culver answered.

Culver also emphasized the need for pension reform, saying that the legislature wants to make sure they are choosing the correct option to make “some meaningful impact,” on the situation.

Other hot topics included the state’s education system, with questions about the state’s new Keystone exams and how to balance “teaching to the test” with measuring student achievement.

“You want school districts to be accountable ... and you are giving (students) a test to make sure they know the material but now we’re angry that (teachers) are teaching to the test,” she said. “We need to find some happy medium.”

Culver also encouraged constituents to fill out her legislative survey, which asks for opinions on everything from the transportation bill to gay marriage and marijuana legalization.

The survey ends Oct. 31 and is available at lyndaculver.com.