The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 6, 2013

Lawmakers' reaction to state budget mixed

HARRISBURG - Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget address included a bold array of strategies intended to confront a transportation funding crisis, provide additional money for education and get the state out of the liquor business.

All three of those moves have aspects that may give some lawmakers pause.

The transportation funding is tied to a move to lift the cap on a tax on the oil company franchise tax. Corbett took care in his address to argue that he is suggesting that the state change the tax rate, he is just lifting the cap. The distinction may be too fine for many.

The move to connect educational funding to liquor privatization is objectionable to some lawmakers.

“It’s going to be a challenging few months,” said Sen. Gene Yaw, R-23 of Lycoming County.

Beyond those hot-button issues though, there is reason for optimism, as lawmakers said that the state government’s budget is in a much more healthy position now than it had been at similar points in Corbett’s first two years in office.

The governor’s strategy of connecting education funding to liquor privatization is “disingenuous,” said Sen. John Wozniak, D-35 of Cambria County.

Under the governor’s liquor privatization plan, $200 million a year from the sale of licenses to operate retail stores selling wine, liquor and beer would be made available to schools for use on school safety, boosting elementary education funding, developing individualized learning plans, and bolstering science, technology, engineering and math programs.

Sen. John Gordner, R-27, of Columbia County, said that the education funding — outside the amount tied to liquor privatization — demonstrates how the strain of austerity is less intense. Corbett has proposed a $90 million boost in basic education funding, $100 million in accountability block grants that many school districts use to fund full-day kindergarten,  and the state has announced that it will not reduce the amount of funding for higher education.

“Last year, we started with a $400 million deficit,” Gordner said. “This year, we are starting $160 million to $170 million to the good.”

Most lawmakers suggested that transportation funding may be the most likely to be addressed, simply because the need to act is so great.

Transportation funding affects everyone, “Whether you’re on a school bus, driving a feed truck or going to work,” said Sen. Elder Vogel, R-47, of Lawrence County.

Corbett noted that the average age of a bridge in Pennsylvania is 51 years while the expected life expectancy of a bridge is more like 30-40 years.

If the state does not take steps to repair some of the 4,774 structurally deficient bridges in the commonwealth, “We’re going to have a bridge collapse and then they’ll hang us all,” Vogel said.

Yaw said that when there are bridge problems or issues with road conditions, constituents might point to the $250 million that is going toward mass transit.

“I can’t say they are wrong,” Yaw said.

The Senate Transportation Committee has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to begin examining the governor’s transportation plan in detail, Gordner said.

Text Only
  • xfire20b.jpg Firefighters battle blaze at BJ's in Danville

    DANVILLE — A fire Sunday damaged BJ’s Steak & Rib House, 291 Mill St., and endangered a neighboring shop and apartment building.

    April 20, 2014 6 Photos

  • Chase leads to jail

    MILTON — Charges were pending Sunday against a man allegedly tied to a rash of recent burglaries in Milton borough who ran from Milton Police on Saturday.

    April 20, 2014

  • Police: 3 steal debit cards, $10G in jewelry for drug trip to NY

    NEW BERLIN — Three Valley teenagers are under investigation for allegedly stealing debit cards and roughly $10,000 in jewelry from three parked vehicles in Union County earlier this month to fund a trip to New York to buy drugs.

    April 20, 2014

  • Valley farmers keep eye out for deadly pig virus

    CAMP HILL — Pork producers across the commonwealth — and in the Valley — are on the alert for a still existing virus that last year killed 12 piglets in Pennsylvania and a million piglets around the country.

    April 20, 2014

  • Loaded language

    Sometimes it’s the offhand remark that’s the most telling. Indeed, the way we Americans casually, often unthinkingly, incorporate gun metaphors into our everyday slang says a lot about how deeply embedded guns are in our culture and our politics, and how difficult it is to control or extract them. Consider this list, presented as bullet points — which are themselves so conventional, so central to the typography of mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations, that you can forget what their shape represents.

    April 20, 2014

  • Prize claim cost man $1,829

    WINFIELD — Western Union is doing what it can to educate people about the risks in wiring money. An entire section on its website ( is devoted to providing information that might reduce the risk of people falling victim to fraud schemes.

    April 19, 2014

  • Reel good time enjoyed by 200 young anglers

    TREVORTON — It only took about three minutes for J.C. Wallish to reel in his first fish at the Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association’s annual Youth Trout Derby on Saturday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Elytte Barbour's 'bad trip' put him on the road to prison, friend says

    SUNBURY — A former roommate of slaying suspect Elytte Barbour drove 450 miles from North Carolina to spend 45 minutes in the Northumberland County Prison with his best friend last week, and was not surprised when he heard Barbour say: “I am afraid to spend the rest of my life in jail.”

    April 19, 2014

  • bonehunt20a.jpg 60 dogs battle for biscuits at annual bone hunt

    It was a scene similar to ones playing out all over the nation this weekend: nervous parents holding baskets and bags, watching their little ones search for goodies in the grass.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law

    PASCUA YAQUI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. — Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.

    April 19, 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.