Without a doubt, the most important task each year for state lawmakers is to construct and pass a budget that sets and itemizes spending priorities based on the revenues available. For many years, the state budget was weeks or months late, delaying the distribution of state funds to school districts and service providers.
As the House and Senate appropriations committees work on developing a state budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, the Commonwealth finds itself in the same situation many Pennsylvania households are in – making the difficult choices needed to live within our means.
This year has seen some heart-wrenching events in our nation with respect to child welfare.
Since February we have seen a grand jury implicating the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia of child abuse, the Caylee Anthony tragedy in Florida, and the still unfolding Penn State scandal.
Across the nation, distracted driving is increasingly the cause of many serious vehicle accidents.
A study by Virginia Tech Driving Institute revealed that those who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be in an accident, and the National Traffic and Safety Administration reported 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 were a result of distracted driving.
Legislation aimed at keeping Pennsylvania’s teens safe behind the wheel and healthy during athletic competition was recently approved by the state House of Representatives. One of our priorities is to ensure the health and welfare of the Commonwealth’s young people. These measures do that by addressing issues dealing with highway safety and certain medical conditions that are concerns to us all.
On June 30, the state House of Representatives completed a busy spring session with the approval of the 2011-12 state budget and other important pieces of legislation. Lawmakers will be returning to Harrisburg on Sept. 26 for the fall session, which should prove to be just as productive.
House Republicans accomplished much in the first half of this year, passing 136 pieces of important legislation. In addition to the 2011-12 state budget, Gov. Tom Corbett has so far signed 75 of those bills into law, including measures that improve government transparency and protect prescription drug assistance for seniors.
House Republicans have wasted no time in starting to address the challenges Pennsylvania faces including job creation, economic development, and education reform. In the first half of this year, we have passed 145 bills, 47 of which have gone to the governor for his signature. Among the bills we have passed are:
As Pennsylvania strives to make ends meet, government must make every effort to get maximum efficiency from taxpayer dollar it spends. We cannot afford to allow waste, fraud and abuse to continue unchecked.
We are all aware Pennsylvania is dealing with some tough financial challenges. For too long, state spending has exceeded the rate of inflation and incoming revenues. As a result, our Commonwealth is facing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall and difficult decisions about where we can cut spending to make up the difference.
We are all aware that Pennsylvania is facing some difficult financial challenges. Years of lagging revenues and over spending have left us with a multi-billion dollar deficit. In addition, nearly 9 percent of our population is still unable to find work and thousands of others are worried their job could be next.
Like the rest of the nation, Pennsylvania is struggling to recover from some of the worst economic conditions in generations. If we are going to create jobs and get Pennsylvania’s economy working again, we need to ensure employers can feel confident doing business here. Unfortunately, the abuse of our legal system through frivolous lawsuits is making that task more difficult.
In July 1994, 7-year-old Megan Kanka accepted an invitation from a neighbor to see his puppy. That neighbor was a twice-convicted pedophile, who raped and murdered Megan and then dumped her body in a nearby park. Megan’s parents said they would not have allowed her to travel freely through their neighborhood had they known a convicted sex offender was living right across the street. As a result of Megan’s case and others like it, Congress passed the Federal version of “Megan's Law,” which requires convicted sex offenders to notify local police when they move into a community so local residents can be made aware of their presence.
On Jan. 4, my colleagues and I took the oath of office and the 2011-12 Legislative Session officially began. Many difficult challenges await us in this session, including a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a stagnant state economy and an unemployment rate that continues to hover near nine percent.