Wednesday June 26, 2019

Black Forest Express

Early Arrivals                                                                                                        Gerri Miller

Tuesday’s high, 85; Overnight low, 58







Reps. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) and Clint Owlett (Wellsboro)joined a majority of lawmakers Tuesday in approving the Commonwealth’s 2019-20 state budget that includes no new or increased taxes.

“It’s all about being fiscally responsible and respectful of the taxpayers who foot the bill for the annual state budget,” Causer said. “With no new taxes and important investments in education, health care and agriculture, I believe this budget is good for rural Pennsylvania.”

The $33.99 billion spending plan, now awaiting action in the Senate, also devotes 100% of the General Fund balance at the end of the fiscal year – anticipated at $250 million to as much as $300 million – to the Rainy Day Fund.

“It’s important to have some savings in place to prepare for the next economic downturn,” Causer said. “I’m pleased that we were able to make this a priority in this year’s budget negotiations.”

House Bill 790 again makes record investments in education, with an additional $432 million directed to preK-12 education. This includes $160 million more for basic education, $50 million more for special education and $10 million for career and technical education to help better prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. To help ensure students have a safe learning environment, the budget also directs $60 million to fund school safety and security grants.

Also increased is funding for critical access hospitals, which help ensure care is available in some of the most rural areas of the Commonwealth. The budget designates $10.9 million for these hospitals.

The budget, as approved by the House, also sets aside $4 million for a Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, which is proposed in Causer’s House Bill 1516 that is now pending consideration in the Senate.

“As chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, I am also pleased with the historic investments we are making in our state’s top industry,” Causer said. “Our farmers put food on our tables, but they also contribute substantially to our rural economy and support thousands of jobs.”

Causer again fought to restore funding to several line items the governor proposed to eliminate from the agriculture budget, including hardwoods research and promotion, which was increased by $50,000 to $474,000, as well as agricultural research; agricultural promotion, education and exports; and the livestock and open dairy shows.

Owlett issued the following statement after the budget vote was taken:

“As someone who represents a rural area and understands the impact of the agriculture industry on the state’s financial well-being, I was happy to see the largest investment in agriculture in decades. Not only were we successful in getting all of the governor’s proposed cuts to agriculture restored, but we managed to provide a $19.5 million increase for the state’s agriculture sector. That’s substantial!

“This funding is in addition to several legislative measures recently passed in the House that aim to support the dairy industry and help our agriculture industry as a whole continue to thrive.

“Our farmers are constantly facing threats from disease and invasive species where a quick response is vital to preventing or at least minimizing damage,” Causer said. “To further protect our food supply, we are also including in the budget a new $2 million appropriation for the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, as well as $1 million for livestock and consumer health protection.”

Other agriculture initiatives in the budget include a new business and workforce investment program to prepare the next generation of farmers and a 2% increase in funding for the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School and Penn State Extension. Overall, funding for agriculture is up more than $19 million, or 12%, this year.A final budget is due by the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

An elderly NY state couple were hurt in a one-vehicle accident Tuesday afternoon in Jones Township Elk County. Ridgway based state police report 70 year old Diana Crawford was going north on Route 219 just before three o’clock when she fell asleep at the wheel of her Nissan Altima. The car went into the southbound lane and  traveled onto  the berm. The undercarriage struck an embankment and two trees head-on before  stopping. She and her husband, 71 year old Francis Crawford were taken to  Elk Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.

State police at Lewis Run say DUI charges are pending against a 27 year old Smethport man who was detained by officers when they observed him driving a 2005 Chevrolet Impala on Route 46 in Keating Township Monday afternoon and was the subject of a misdemeanor warrant. When troopers interviewed the man whose name they did not release they allegedly found he was in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and appeared to have been driving under the influence. The suspect reportedly failed a field sobriety test and was placed under arrested for DUI and related offenses.

State police at Lewis Run also have charged a 38 year old Port Allegany man for possessing drug paraphernalia in his home at 121 Roosevelt Avenue. The items were seized  after  consent when police went to  his home to execute a search warrant.

Two Tioga County residents are being charged with physical harassment for an incident taking place June 6 in  Shippen Township. State po0lice say a 53 year old Millerton man and a 54 year old Wellsboro woman are being charged in district court. Apparently during the scuffle a mini swing valued at $20,a Rabbit Knick Knack valued at $25 and a table also  valued at $25 were damaged. At a home on Route 6.

State police at Emporium are advising the public to remain vigilant while disseminating  personal information via phone or online communications. Many business and organizations including state police will not call a personal telephone soliciting information or ask for monetary donations.

Mansfield based state police are advising motorists they will be conducting sobriety check points over the 4th of July weekend in areas where there have been a high number of DUI related crashes.