Black Forest Express
Photo by Gerri Miller
Wednesday’s high, 70; Overnight low, 60 .04” rain
THU-SCATTERED AFTERNOON THUNDERSTORMS, HIGH 77
THU NIGHT-CLOUDY, LOW 60
FRI-OVERCAST IN THE MORNING, HIGH 68
FRI NIGHT-SCATTERED SHOWERS, HIGH 71
SAT-RAIN, LOW 66
To hear today’s complete forecast, click on arrow below:
State budget approved by the House and Causer applauds document’s provisions…area residents encouraged to recycle electronics tomorrow in East Smethport….Wellsboro motorcyclist seriously hurt after being thrown off bike…..No injuries reported for driver and passengers after car/deer collision in Ulysses Township last week…..
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The state House on Wednesday gave overwhelming approval to a 2018-19 state budget proposal that includes no new or increased taxes and makes significant investments in education and public health and safety. The $32.7 billion spending plan reflects an increase of 1.7 percent over the current year, which is below the rate of inflation. The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
“This is a responsible budget that keeps spending in checking while investing in core functions of government, including education, health care and public safety,” Rep. Causer said. “I believe it also addresses several of our priorities in rural Pennsylvania.” House Bill 2121 invests a record-high $12.3 billion in preK-12 education. Basic Education Funding is increased by $100 million to $6.095 billion; early childhood education funding for Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs by $25 million to $251.5 million; and special education funding by $15 million to $1.14 billion. A $60 million block grant will provide funding to schools for safety initiatives, and $30 million will be invested in career and technical education to help prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
Higher education institutions will also see an increase in funding under the bill, including the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, which will receive $2.8 million, a 3 percent increase.
For rural health care, the budget includes more than $10 million for critical access hospitals, a 4.8 percent increase in funding. It also provides a mix of state and federal funds to provide a much-needed increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates for ambulance companies, many of which have been struggling to keep their doors open to continue their life-saving services. Pennsylvania’s ambulance companies would see a much-needed increase in their Medicaid reimbursement rates under the 2018-19 state budget bill approved by the House on Wednesday, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint).
“While we still need to get this bill to the governor’s desk, I am optimistic that our emergency response organizations are finally going to get some much-needed and much-deserved financial relief,” he added.
Earlier this month, Causer joined with lawmakers and emergency responders from across the state at a Capitol rally calling for action on efforts to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, as well as provide reimbursement for treatment provided by emergency responders, even if transport does not take place.
Under House Bill 2121, an additional $4 million in state funds and approximately $8 million in federal matching funds would be used support Medicaid reimbursement increases outlined in Causer’s House Bill 699. Specifically, reimbursements for Advanced Life Support (ALS) services would be increased from $200 to not less than $300, and Basic Life Support (BLS) services would be increased from $120 to $180. The rate increase would be effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Pending approval of the Senate and governor, this would be the first increase in Medicaid reimbursement for the state’s ambulance companies since 2004. Current rates are more than 200 percent below reimbursements provided by Medicare and commercial insurance, which has made it increasingly difficult for ambulance companies across the state to keep operating.
Causer noted lawmakers are continuing to work on legislation to require reimbursement for treatment provided regardless of whether transport takes place.
As chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Causer also praised the investments in the state’s agriculture industry. The proposal restores funding for several initiatives that would have been eliminated under the governor’s proposal, including hardwoods research and promotion. It increases funding to combat the spotted lanternfly, which could affect the hardwoods industry if it spreads from southeastern and south central Pennsylvania, and to address invasive species. Penn State Extension will get a 3 percent increase, as well the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School and the Center for Infectious Disease.
Causer also says he’s is pleased the budget sends money into the Commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund for the first time in a decade.
More information about the budget is available at www.pahousegop.com.
Area residents are eligible to participate in the next regional electronics recycling collection being conducted in East Smethport. Items will be accepted at the McKean County Fairgrounds from 10 am to 2 pm on Friday, June 22. Electronic items are difficult to get rid of anywhere in Pennsylvania. Many have heavy metals and other components which are hazardous when placed in landfills. This event allows residents to responsibly dispose of their electronics. McKean County Conservation District and Pa. Cleanways of McKean County are sponsoring the recycling. Those bringing items to the site are advised that unloading will be conducted by staff. Only one TV per carload will be accepted. Freon-containing devices (air conditioners, dehumidifiers, etc.) are $15; fluorescent bulbs, $1.00 each; and a fee will be charged for damaged tube TVs. No medical equipment, VHS tapes or batteries will be accepted. This is a chance for people to dispose of items such as answering machines, copiers, duplicators, electric typewriters, fax machines, hard drives, mobile phones, pagers, printers, radios, remote controls, stereos, tape players, telephones and equipment, computers, testing equipment, VCRs, satellite receivers, and other electronic items. For information, call 814-887-4001.
A Wellsboro motorcyclist was seriously hurt last Friday morning when he was thrown off his bike Mansfield based state police have just released details reporting the accident happened when Michael Nowakowski was pulling out of the Bradshaw Road in Lawrenceville attempting to cross Route 287 to go south. When he noticed a Subaru Forester driven by Tiffany Welch which was headed north, he applied the brakes on his Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide. The bike skidded off the east side of the road ejecting Nowakowski in the process. He was flown by helicopter to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre. Welch was not hurt.
No injuries were reported for a Wellsboro woman and her passengers following a collision with a deer Sunday morning in Ulysses Township, Potter County. Cheryl Zuchowski was going west on Route 6 when the whitetail bounded onto the road and into the path of her Subaru. She and her passengers, Susan Heatley of Liberty and Debra Starkweather of Wellsboro were all using seatbelts at the time.
Both drivers escaped injury Wednesday afternoon in a fender-bender in the Million Dollar lot in Fox Township, Elk County. State police at Ridgway report a 2018 Chevrolet Cruze and a 2013 Ford Taurus backed into each other as they were leaving stalls. Since there were no injuries and both vehicles could be driven away, the mishap is considered non-reportable so the drivers’ names and addresses were not released.