WATSONTOWN — Rep. Lynda Schlegel-Culver (R-108) expects the House to approve Pennsylvania’s 2019-2020 $34 billion budget on Thursday. She believes Gov. Tom Wolf will also sign off on the budget.
Schlegel-Culver spoke on the budget during a Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, held Friday at the Watson Inn.
She believes all of the line-items in the budget have been agreed upon. Currently, legislators are reviewing the details of those items.
“Education will probably see the biggest bump since I’ve gotten here,” Schlegel-Culver said.
She did not yet know what the increase to education funding may be.
“It’s a significant increase,” Schlegel-Culver said. “Education is always a focus of the budget. We are looking for results that the money is being used.”
She noted that increased funding will be directed to vocational-technical schools.
Schlegel-Culver also highlighted proposed items that will not be in the budget, including a minimum wage increase, setting a minimum salary for teachers and funding for Wolf’s proposed Restore Pennsylvania legislation.
Under the legislation, Wolf was proposing investing $4.5 billion over a four-year period for high-impact projects, including technology, development and infrastructure.
Some of the projects proposed by Wolf through Restore Pennsylvania could still be addressed by the legislature.
“You may see something separate proposed this fall,” Schlegel-Culver said. “You might see us come up with something in the fall that deals with transportation.”
She also noted that bi-partisanship appears to be alive in state government.
“For all the things you hear about Democrats and Republicans not getting along, most (Pennsylvania House) bills are sponsored by both parties,” Schlegel-Culver said. “I think we are having more dialogue than ever... It seems to be going pretty well.”
She expects the House will vote on the budget Thursday, and “believes” Wolf will sign off on it.
While funding will not be included in the 2019-2020 budget, Schlegel-Culver said efforts in the year ahead will focus on what can be done to mitigate flooding concerns in communities across Pennsylvania.
“You will see that be a bigger focus for us,” she said. “Everybody wants a flood wall. We can’t give everybody a flood wall.”
Schlegel-Culver agreed with Watsontown Borough Manager Jay Jarrett’s comments that communities must do everything necessary to minimize damage from flooding.
“We have to mitigate the flooding,” Schlegel-Culver said. “You can’t stop it. You have to mitigate it.”
The meeting also included an update on the announcement this week that the Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) board of trustees approved an agreement with the Warrior Run School District to open a branch campus at the former Watsontown Elementary School building.
The day after the agreement was approved, chamber President and CEO Bob Garrett said the LCCC started advertising to fill more than a dozen positions in Watsontown.
The college is looking for a full-time campus director and library director, a part-time secretary and instructor and nine adjunct faculty members.
“It’s very clear they want to be the community college for this community,” Garrett said. “Watsontown already feels like a college town.”
He noted that “location, location, location” was the primary reason the LCCC chose Watsontown to be the home of its seventh branch campus.
Garrett said LCCC officials recognized that the community is located in close proximity to the under construction Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation Project (CSVT), as well as Interstate 80 and Route 15.
David Rowe, the Republican candidate running to fill the seat in the 85th Legislative District vacated by now Congressman Fred Keller, was also in attendance at the meeting.
On Monday, Rowe said he will be resigning from his seat on the East Buffalo Township board of supervisors in order to focus on his campaign.
Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.