Clarion, Pa.- The Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry held its bi-annual legislative breakfast on April 15 with two area Republican representatives.
Guests included State Sen. Scott Hutchinson, State Rep. Donna Oberlander and Clarion County Commissioners Ted Tharan and Wayne Brosius. Commissioner Ed Heasley was absent. Many individuals from the Clarion community turned out at the 7:30 to 9 a.m. breakfast at the Park Inn by Radisson.
Hutchinson spoke first and primarily focused on the state budget impasse that had been a major issue in Pennsylvania over the last nine months. Hutchinson noted that, with the election of a new governor, it “takes some getting used to each other” in reference to the relationship between Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly, which is primarily Republican.
“Deep philosophical differences” kept the budget from being passed for so long. Hutchinson also stated that it is “normal to have later budgets in a governor’s first year in office.” The Pennsylvania budget was not passed until March 23, nine months beyond than it had been due.
He also detailed the process it took to approve the 2015 budget, saying that Wolf vetoed three different budgets by Congress until he let the last one pass after he left it on his desk 10 days without a signature.
Hutchinson also remarked on energy use in Pennsylvania, saying that no new taxes nor regulations should be imposed on “private energy” in the state.
Hutchinson spoke on the fiscal code, the specific instructions as to how budget money is spent in Pennsylvania, which the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed, but as of April 15, was still on the desk of the governor awaiting a signature.
He stated that it was necessary for the government to “live within our means” and “find ways to save money” whenever possible.
Oberlander spoke after Sen. Hutchinson. She began her portion by saying that she was “lock-step” on the issues with Senator Hutchinson, and they work closely together to represent Clarion.
She elaborated on some of her recent activities in the year: getting the fiscal code passed in the House and Senate and being elected to serve as the chair for the oil and gas caucus. She also emphasized that conventional well-drillers need to be considered separately from companies using a “fracking” approach with Marcellus Shale.
Commissioners Brosius and Tharan also spoke, going over some recent developments in Clarion County finances ranging from reducing costs in the corrections department to sorting flags and markers for the cemeteries.