2005 full of achievement, 2006 full of opportunity

| 29 Sep 2011 | 07:59

    To the editor: Pennsylvania accomplished a tremendous set of goals last year. We in the northeast and, specifically, the 189th Legislative District, experienced many rewards firsthand. However, along with the extensive advances Harrisburg made on several issues, work remains. I am optimistic that the momentum that drove the General Assembly forward in December will carry on through 2006. The accomplishments of 2005 were broad and bountiful. Locally, and across the state, significant funds were dedicated to the environment, transportation projects and education. In December, for the first time in state history, lawmakers passed legislation allowing Gov. Ed Rendell to add up to $23 million to the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Last May, residents across the state supported Growing Greener II to preserve and protect our environment, and in July the legislature laid out a plan to implement projects statewide. Locally, the Pike Country Conservation District, the Brodhead Watershed Association, and Middle Smithfield and Stroud townships have been among the first to be awarded funds. Key transportation projects in our area also received ample attention. Construction on the Marshalls Creek Bypass began with a groundbreaking in August, which will eventually ease congestion and improve safety. A project on the Bartonsville exit of Interstate 80 was awarded $3 million to improve the safety of the existing ramp. The 2005-06 state budget demonstrated a renewed commitment to education at all levels. An increase of at least 2 percent was allocated to each of Pennsylvania’s 501 school districts, and the Accountability Block Grant program was given $200 million to help schools meet federal standards through tutoring, reduced class sizes and full-day kindergarten. Job Ready PA, a comprehensive work-force training initiative, is funding community colleges, better equipping high school students with the skills employers require and helping current workers gain advanced training in their fields. Before recessing for the holidays, the General Assembly made considerable progress on determining ways to achieve property tax relief. This issue will be first on our list of objectives in 2006. Tax reform is a priority for me, as it is for many of my House and Senate colleagues. There is also a passionate movement to increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. In December, several members of the House Democratic Caucus forced a committee vote on legislation to increase the wage for the first time since 1997. These objectives top my list of priorities to achieve when I return to the Capitol later in January. State Rep. John Siptroth 189th Legislative District