State representative Harry Readshaw is very concerned over the proposed state budget presented in February by new Governor Ed Rendell.
Readshaw expressed those concerns at the regular 29th Ward Block Watch meeting last week at the new Quentin Roosevelt School.
“I have serious problems with the budget as it stands,” Readshaw said. “The state budge will be a work in progress over the next three months. We have a lot of things to work on.”
The budget, which must be finalized by July 1, calls for major cuts in state funding for Port Authority Transit, Alcosan, public libraries as well as the Health & Human Services of Allegheny County. PAT could receive $8 million less from the state and Alcosan could receive $4.3 million less.
“This budget is going to be a huge, huge problem for Allegheny County,” Readshaw said. “We're going to have to fight to get these funds back.”
If state funding in these areas are reduced as planned, Readshaw fears taxes at the county and city level are going to increase substantially.
“There is so much going on in the state budget,” Readshaw said. “There could be a lot of wheeling and dealing going on.”
It has been reported in the local media that cuts to PAT may be so deep, evening and weekend transit service may be eliminated altogether while fares may also increase again.
Readshaw noted the budget calls for an eventual 30 percent reduction in property taxes to the average homeowner. However, the state's annual personal income state would jump from 2.8 percent to 3.7.
Some residents at the meeting wanted to know why more multi-million dollar businesses, operating on a national and international scale, aren't being attracted to Pennsylvania. One resident used Sony Corp. as an example of an outside business that has successfully settled into Western Pennsylvania.
Readshaw pointed out that the state legislature has not done enough to offer incentives for out-of-state corporations to locate in Pennsylvania.
“It costs money to put in infrastructures and utilities to attract businesses,” Readshaw said. “We have to develop a new philosophy because of competition.”
Readshaw pointed out that for many years, state legislators in the south have offered business incentives. He said that is why metropolitan Atlanta has grown so rapidly over the last 20 years.
The man who represents the 36th Legislative district also pointed out that surrounding neighboring states such as Ohio, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia, have begun to place more emphasis on attracting businesses. This could put even more strain on Pennsylvania to keep up.
He pointed out that the land surrounding the old Pittsburgh International Airport, which was abandoned in 1992, has largely gone undeveloped because local government has not stepped forward to build new infrastructures.
“A business may come in to look at the site, but they aren't serious about locating there,” Readshaw said. “It's the state's responsibility to build an infrastructure. The county and city can't afford it.”