Thanksgiving is a time for reflection on all of the blessings in our lives. I am grateful that this year featured significant progress on a number of issues that local residents have identified as priorities.
Community residents frequently tell me that the legislature should do a better job of meeting the needs of the state without taking more money away from working families. This year, a bipartisan $32.7 billion spending plan did not include a tax hike and met all the core responsibilities of government.
The budget also included new resources to better protect our schools – an issue that many local residents have identified as a critical need.
The new School Safety and Security Grant Program will provide $60 million in grants to help schools hire security officers, purchase security equipment, offer counseling services for students, complete safety and security assessments, and implement other programs to improve student safety. Every school district in the 33rd Senatorial District was awarded a grant through the program this year in the first round of funding.
The health of our communities is also a serious area of concern. Pennsylvania is on the front lines in the battle against Lyme disease, a serious condition that can cause lasting damage to the nervous system. Funding to prevent the spread of Lyme disease was authorized by the legislature this year. The $2.5 million line item in the 2018-2019 budget will support awareness, prevention and surveillance associated with the tick-borne illness.
The funding will be used to hire staff to implement the Lyme Disease Task Force’s recommendations, build a more robust Lyme disease prevention and education program, conduct statewide environmental surveys, and improve participation in tick-borne disease surveillance with health care providers and local health departments.
Agriculture is a critical part of our local economy, and it is important to keep the industry thriving. A new state program is offering $5 million in grants to support Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers as the industry struggles through a prolonged period of financial difficulty.
The Pennsylvania Dairy Industry Investment Program, created by lawmakers in June, will support investments in projects to improve the production, processing and distribution of dairy products throughout the state.
Tourism is another important part of our local economy, especially in Adams County. Governor Wolf proposed a deep cut to funding to support tourism in this year’s budget. Lawmakers not only restored the governor’s cut, but also increased tourism funding by nearly $5 million over the previous year’s total.
Similarly, the governor proposed cutting money from the Department of Community & Economic Development by nearly $22 million. Instead, the legislature increased funding for these job creation and community improvement programs by more than $11 million, without raising taxes.
An army of advocates have demanded action to better protect pets and animals in Pennsylvania. The legislature recently passed a bill that provides civil immunity for emergency responders who rescue pets from hot cars, and the governor signed the bill into law.
All of these measures represent significant progress on issues that local individuals and families care about most. I wish all community residents and their families a Happy Thanksgiving, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you in the Pennsylvania Senate.
Senator Alloway represents the 33rd District in the Pennsylvania Senate. The district includes Adams County, and parts of Franklin, Cumberland and York counties.
CONTACT: Scot Pitzer (717) 787-4651; email@example.com