Local lawmakers react to Corbett’s plan

Locally elected state lawmakers agree on one thing about Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget address unveiled Tuesday – it’s only the beginning.

State legislators who commented on the governor’s proposed spending plan said much work needs to be done in budget and committee hearings before a final budget is passed by June 30.

“Obviously, this is just the beginning of the budget and there will be a lot of issues raised,” said state Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport.

Mirabito said there were several problems he had with Corbett’s plan.

“I guess I was disappointed that we didn’t hear more specifics on job creation,” he said.

He also said linking education funding to the sale and privitization of the state’s alcohol sales doesn’t make sense. Mirabito said that while Corbett criticized accepting federal stimulus money for one-time uses, the governor would be doing the same thing with funding education through the proceeds of liquor and wine sale privitization.

Mirabito also disagreed with Corbett’s stance on not accepting federal money for the expansion of Medicaid. He said other conservative Republican governors have agreed to do so, and Pennsylvania should join them.

Medicaid expansion costs would be fully covered by the federal government for three years and eventually phased to 90 percent coverage.

Mirabito said Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania would “create literally tens of thousands of (health care) jobs.”

“If we don’t participate, the money we would be losing would be going to other states,” he said.

State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, said the new budget plan is “a bit more optimistic than those of the previous two years, but it is still very evident that we face serious challenges ahead.”

Everett said that transportation, pension reform, lottery and liquor privitization all are major issues that are intertwined in Corbett’s budget.

“We need to take a serious look at the whole proposal to determine an approach to these issues that best serves the people of Pennsylvania both now and in the future,” Everett said.

“The governor’s proposal contains some interesting concepts,” added state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township. “However, it would appear that there are a lot of details needed to really understand what the ramifications are and what the benefits might be long-term.”

State Rep. Matthew E. Baker, R-Wellsboro, called Corbett’s budget proposal “a good start.”

“The part I like, quite frankly, is it increases funding for rural health care, which is very important for my district,” he said. “It was great to see the word ‘rural’ was even referenced in the governor’s budget.”