Harrisburg Happenings: Ryan Bizzarro

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Harrisburg Happenings: Ryan Bizzarro by Ryan Bizzarro

The most common question asked of me while back in the district is, “What’s happening in Harrisburg?" This month, it’s all about the budget. There are several areas of Gov. Tom Corbett’s spending plan that are receiving a great deal of attention in Harrisburg: the Pennsylvania lottery, Medicaid, transportation deficiencies, education funding, and the privatization of liquor stores. Here’s a quick overview of each issue and how it could affect the Commonwealth and our community.

After a private decision by the Corbett administration to sell the Pennsylvania Lottery to a British firm was made public, the lack of transparency spurred uproar among legislators and citizen alike. The lottery generates $1 billion annually in support of services such as property tax rebates and lower-cost medicines for older Pennsylvanians. As a member of both the House Gaming Oversight and Aging and Older Adult Services committees, I agree with Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s assessment that the state legislature should be the organization to make substantial changes to the lottery.

The lottery sale isn’t the only backlash expected to be experienced by Pennsylvania seniors, either. Gov. Corbett scrapped the Medicaid expansion plan, turning down the opportunity for more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians to qualify for health care and $40 billion in federal funds, which would reduce the hospitals’ costs of uncompensated care. With more than 20 states agreeing to the Medicaid expansion, I think – with all due respect to the governor – that it’s time for him to reconsider his stance on the expansion before more Pennsylvanians are left behind.

Another issue I’m often asked about is transportation. Pennsylvania has the most structurally deficient bridges and the most miles of roads in “poor” condition in the entire country, but Gov. Corbett proposed only half of what is needed to address issues. Every $1 billion invested in transportation infrastructure creates or saves roughly 30,000 jobs, and better roads mean better ways for goods to be imported and exported from our area, which generates economic growth and opportunity.

But the potential for negative impacts on economic development doesn’t stop with transportation. Two years ago, Gov. Corbett cut almost $1 billion in basic education funding. This year’s $90 million increase is not enough to fix the damage. The school districts I represent – Fairview, Fort LeBeouf, General McLane, and Millcreek Township – would see an average increase of 1.5 percent, which is unsustainable because it’s contingent upon successfully privatizing the liquor stores.

We cannot peg the privatization of the state liquor system against our education system. Instead, we should explore a way to modernize the current system so that “mom and pop” stores and neighborhood beer distributors can continue to grow and thrive.

These issues only scratch the surface on what needs to be done to serve Pennsylvanians during this next fiscal year and beyond. If you have questions or concerns about the budget, please don't hesitate to reach out; we're here for you. Stop by the district office located in the Peninsula Plaza – 1101 Peninsula Drive, Suite 209 – in Millcreek Township or call us at 835.2880.

Erie Reader: Vol. 4, No. 25
Now Available — Pick It Up Today

CURRENT

Arts and Culture Editor Alex Bieler picks out some of his favorite music videos that came to be in 2014.

Come down to East High School tonight at 6 p.m. to see what students are learning about music!

Here's a roundup of top news stories you might have missed from yesterday. Consider it an early Christmas present. 

The Romantic Era's Connor Kimball talks about the band's musical direction, lineup changes, and having a team mentality. Plus, be one of the first people to check out the video for new song "Forever."

It's been a big day in world news, folks. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for another massive terrorist attack, Cuban cigars are about to become legal, and your holiday plans to see "The Interview" are getting spoiled. All that and more, in case you missed it.

IN THIS ISSUE

The Presque Isle Partnership is hosting Polar Fest on Sunday, Dec. 14, a winter version of Discover Presque Isle, if you will, featuring indoor and outdoor activities related to the winter season.

Music fans were in for a treat this past November when a long list of those loquacious lyricists showed off their musical chops at 814 Grinders: Hip-hop Pt. 1. The event was so good, in fact, that it will be getting a sequel Friday, Dec. 12 at The Beer Mug.

Wayward Tattoo Studio presents Arc Angels Toy Drive

PACA presents Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!)

The Lake Erie Ballet will continue its holiday tradition this year with four productions of The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre this December, including a pair of special events. 

Pittsburgh indie rockers return to Erie's Basement Transmissions.

The Station Dinner Theatre will celebrate its 25th Anniversary Holiday Musical event with Christmas Memories: A Christmas Carol

Martinis and blues go together just like peas and carrots. Confused? Read on.

Michigan-bred 'mericana badasses return to Erie Saturday, Dec. 19.

ECO showcases both new and old holiday music with its upcoming show.