Everett discusses diverse issues in Picture Rocks
State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, addressed topics ranging from property taxes and the state budget to Sunday hunting and stream cleanup during the second of a series of town hall meetings he is holding through mid-September.
About two dozen people attended the session at the Picture Rocks Volunteer Fire Co. Wednesday night.
Everett, seeking re-election this November to the 84th state House seat, briefly mentioned some of the issues he supports including welfare reform, bringing high- speed internet service to rural areas and “modernizing” the state liquor system and sales of alcohol.
He pointed to recent actions in the state Legislature including setting aside funding for making schools safer and dollars for drug treatment.
He reminded those in attendance that getting things done in Harrisburg is no easy task given the diversity of the state and the special interests of lawmakers representing different parts of the Commonwealth.
He noted that the state budget was approved this summer thanks in part to revenues being up.
“We are projecting a little bit of a surplus for next year,” he said.
Education, he said, remains the biggest spending item, comprising 38 percent of the budget.
“We do try to increase funding for education,” he said.
Everett said that while many people support doing away with property taxes, which comprise the major funding component for local school districts, the state Legislature has not been able to vote on it.
Ron Snell, of Barbours, blamed the lawmakers for not allowing bills for eliminating real estate taxes to come out of committee.
He told Everett he favors increasing sales and personal income taxes to make up the revenue that would be lost without property taxes.
“The people that property taxes hurt most are senior citizens,” Snell said.
Everett said school choice is a much discussed issue in Harrisburg.
And while school choice has its supporters, it never gains the backing from enough House or Senate members.
“I’m for school choice … kind of, within reason,” he said.
He said local school districts face the burden of financing the tuitions of students attending cyber schools.
Referring to higher education, Everett said colleges are facing declining student populations.
He pointed to schools such as Mansfield University, which in recent years faced serious budget problems and considered shutting its doors.
“Something has to give,” he said.
Glenn Brandis, of Glen Mawr, told Everett that flooding from heavy rains this summer left behind debris in streams that require cleanup.
Everett said the state Department of Environmental Protection promptly issues permits following flooding events for such efforts.
Regarding Sunday hunting in the state, Everett said, “I am fully in the I don’t care category.”
He explained some people, including hunters, are fine with not allowing Sunday hunting.
Still others, are too busy with work and other obligations to get a chance to hunt any other day but Sunday.