The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 20, 2013

Two state legislators emphasize governor's priorities

DANVILLE — LEWISBURG — Two local lawmakers joined forces to tout two of the three issues which remain the focus of Gov. Tom Corbett, heading into the end of 2013 and his re-election bid next year.

State Rep. Fred Keller, R-85 of Kreamer, and state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-23 of Wiliamsport, spoke at a Legislative Breakfast, hosted by the Greater Susquehanna Valley and Central PA Chambers of Commerce Friday morning in Lewisburg. Yaw commented on the need to pass a transportation funding bill, while Keller addressed the need for pension reform.

Earlier this year, Corbett announced his three legislative priorities were: boosting funding for the state’s crumbling highways, rusting bridges and cash-strapped mass transit systems; overhauling the state’s two biggest public employee pension systems to cut long-term costs; and privatizing the (state-controlled wine and liquor store system while liberalizing the state’s beer laws.

But state legislators failed to finalize any bills related to these topics before the July 1 budget deadline, as disagreements arose regarding funding and priority.

Yaw and Keller said they realized that taxes and fees may go up to fund the fixes, but that it’s necessary to avoid bigger problems in the future.

“Sometimes you have to govern and make tough decisions,” Yaw said.

Transportation remain the Senate’s “No. 1 priority,” Yaw said, calling the Senate’s May transportation bills, “one of the most bipartisan bills we’ve ever had.”

The majority of the governor’s proposed $1.8 billion transportation bill will be going toward projects and repairs involving the state’s bridge and road, which Yaw said cost Pennsylvanians $9.4 billion per year due to poor conditions, but some will also go toward mass transit programs.

The majority of funding for the bill will be coming from raising the Oil Company Franchise Tax, which will raise gas prices, Yaw said.

“If we want the convenience and roads we have, we have to pay for them,” he said. “I’m very up front about it: will it increase gas prices? Probably.”

However, that may be easier said than done in the House, where many Congressman have taken no-tax-increase pledges, Keller said.

“We knew from the beginning that we’re not going to get a tax increase out of the House,” he said. “It’s not going to be a $2.5 billion bill (like the Senate passed in May). Will the governor’s plan be passed? I’m hopeful.”

The Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project, touted by local lawmakers this spring as a cornerstone project of the governor’s transportation package, could still happen with the passage of a funding package, Yaw said.

“It’s only been in the works for 40 years,” he said. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Keller was equally as frank when discussing the state’s employee pension system, which is $47 billion underfunded.

According to Keller, the root of the problem is the four-fold: school districts and the Commonwealth failed to pay their shares; the stock market’s downturn; a change in the pension multiplier; and the structure of the system itself.

If unfixed, the pension system could eat up the state’s general fund and cause greater funding problems on a statewide scale.

“This is a problem for all Pennsylvanians,” he said.

However, Keller emphasized that the situation is not “gloom and doom,” and can be righted.

“We’re having a dialogue for the first time in a long time,” he said. “It’s time to put out differences aside and show our children we can work together.”


Text Only
  • State: Discard raw milk from Greenfield Dairy

    MIDDLEBURG — Consumers should discard raw milk purchased recently from the Greenfield Dairy of Middleburg, which also has temporarily suspended production after Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in the product following routine testing, the state Department of Agriculture announced today.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penn State police: Three posed nude at Nittany shrine

    STATE COLLEGE — Penn State police say three male students who reportedly posed nude for a photo at the university’s Nittany Lion Shrine face school discipline.

    April 18, 2014

  • State unemployment rate drops to 6 percent in March

    HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s jobless rate has continued its steady decline. The state Department of Labor and Industry says unemployment fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 6 percent in March.

    April 18, 2014

  • Report: Pennsylvania forests impacted by drilling

    PITTSBURGH — A small portion of Pennsylvania state forest land has been impacted by shale gas drilling, but many questions remain about how to manage the politically sensitive issue that is opposed by many residents, according to a new report.

    April 18, 2014

  • TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Route 45 east of Montandon

    MONTANDON — A paving project is slowing traffic today on Route 45 east of Montandon.

    April 18, 2014

  • Accident victims remain in critical condition this morning

    DANVILLE - Victims from serious traffic accidents the past two days remain in critical condition this morning at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

    April 18, 2014

  • Porn prank riles Bucknell University president

    LEWISBURG — A fake email that contained a link to a pornographic website was sent to Bucknell students, faculty and staff on Tuesday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • 28-mile cross walk steps off in Northumberland

    SUNBURY — Two “cross walks” this morning, including a 28-mile trek from Northumberland to Beaver Springs, are among the highlights of Easter activities and services in the Valley.

    April 18, 2014

  • rsstrike18a.jpg Picketing begins at four Danville schools

    DANVILLE — It started like any other school day during the year, with teachers up early and arriving at school at 7:30 in the morning.


    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Line Mountain board, teachers to talk Tuesday

    MANDATA — Line Mountain school board President Troy Laudenslager is far more optimistic this week than he has been as the board and the Line Mountain Education Association head into their first contract negotiation session in three months.

    April 18, 2014

The Daily Marquee

How do you eat your chocolate Easter bunny?

Feet first
Tail first
Ears first
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.