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Fall - Winter 2009

Dear Neighbor,
As we near the halfway point of the 2009-10 legislative session, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the final state budget for this year, as well as offer brief reminders of programs that are available to help individuals and families in need. As you well know, this year’s budget process was unlike any I have ever witnessed during my tenure in Harrisburg and which I am hopeful is never repeated. The budget process was an embarrassment for the Commonwealth and was enacted after many, many attempts to bring some sort of spending document to the rank-and-file members. Unfortunately, political gamesmanship won out, but fortunately, we were able to stave off any type of income or sales tax increases – especially at a time when our residents can least afford them. Even though a budget agreement is now in place, I am disappointed in its final contents and worry about the state’s financial health as we continue to struggle through this economic downturn. More details about the budget process and final document are on page 2. Also included in this edition of my newsletter is an update on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s efforts to toll Interstate 80. When this ill-conceived plan was rammed through the Legislature in 2007, I was a staunch opponent of the legislation and I continue my strong opposition to any efforts to toll the highway. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to help residents obtain the help they need and cut through bureaucratic red tape. As always, if you should ever need assistance with a state government-related problem or issue, please contact any of my offices. Complete contact information is on the last page of this newsletter. We’re here to help. Please accept my personal wishes for a joyous holiday season and a fulfilling new year. With regards and respect,

I-80 Update: Revised Application Submitted to Federal Government
You may already be well aware that within the last few weeks, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission resubmitted its application to authorize tolls for Interstate 80. The application is now before the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for its review. We are continuing our efforts to communicate to the FHWA that, contrary to what the Turnpike Commission and administration are saying, local economies along the I-80 corridor would be negatively impacted with this tolling plan. The House Republican Policy Committee, of which I am a member, held one of the first statewide public hearings on the tolling plan. All of the information we gathered will again be forwarded to the FHWA to convince them – once and for all – that tolling I-80 would be detrimental to Pennsylvania residents, businesses and future economic development opportunities. The Turnpike Commission and Gov. Ed Rendell believe that the new administration in Washington, D.C., will be more favorable to its application. However, my colleagues and I – along with the numerous businesses, economic development agencies and residents who still oppose the tolling – are not convinced the new application will reverse the decision by the FHWA. At a November hearing of the House Republican Policy Committee, an independent expert in the field of public-private partnerships and infrastructure investment projects told us that he has serious concerns about the credibility of the information used in the revised application. Brian F. Chase, an independent consultant who specializes in creating and implementing strategies for financing and development of large infrastructure projects, told us that I-80 is a “poor choice” for tolling. In fact, he testified that to his knowledge, there has never been a successful conversion of a free highway to a tolled highway. He does not believe I-80 will be the first model, especially considering the large extent of public opposition to the plan. The testimony referenced a serious lack of credibility on the part of the investment group hired by the Turnpike Commission to determine a fair market value of the interstate. That information was necessary in the resubmitted application as it was one of the main reasons why the federal government rejected the first two versions. The Turnpike Commission hired Provident Capital Advisors of Baton Rouge, LA, to assess a fair market value. Just days before Provident Capital was hired, its name was Provident Health Care Coalition LLC, and the firm had no documented expertise in any type of transportation investment projects. It specializes in health care and prison housing. Chase said it would be more appropriate for the FHWA to hire its own consultant to determine the highway’s free market value and to then bill the Turnpike Commission the cost. He also believes the lease agreement between PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission should have been subject to third-party competition. In addition, the federal government may very well consider the public uncertainty over promised improvements to the highway, especially considering that toll revenues will ultimately benefit urban mass transit systems. I remain committed to fighting efforts to toll I-80, and I will continue to keep you updated on our progress.
At a public hearing of the House Republican Policy Committee, Ed Edwards of the Columbia-Montour Chamber of Commerce and I discuss the efforts of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to toll Interstate 80. Edwards and I attended a public hearing of the House Republican Policy Committee on Nov. 18, which focused on the firm hired by the PTC to conduct a fair market value of the 311-mile highway. That information is crucial in determining whether or not the interstate will be tolled.

David Millard State Representative for the 109th Legislative District

New Budget Doesn’t Prepare State Well for Future
With a $27.8 billion spending plan now in place – 101 days passed the deadline – I remain concerned about the long-term impact this budget will have next year, the year after and well into the future. That is why I cast a “no” vote on this year’s budget. The 2009-10 budget package was signed on Oct. 9, and includes nearly $27.8 billion in spending for the fiscal year that began on July 1, which is less than the 2008-09 budget, even including federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The total level of state spending is $25.178 billion, which is $2.35 billion less than last year’s state spending level but still too much in my opinion. My opposition is not partisan based, it’s family budget based. It’s small business success based. It’s “Pennsylvania is in a recession” based. The tax code plan raises $1.73 billion in new revenues, including $626.5 million in sustainable, recurring revenues. These revenues include a tax hike on cigarettes and cigarillos and a blow to businesses with a retroactive increase in the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax. There is already an unrealistic revenue expectation from table games in casinos and a big cut to families benefitting from the Educational Income Tax Credit and it makes a potent mix of financial struggle for our Commonwealth’s future. Another concern I have is that this budget completely empties the Rainy Day Fund and other funds we had set aside for future financial challenges. Now, we have no cushion for future budget shortfalls, which I believe will be magnified when federal stimulus funding runs out in three years. Couple this with news that revenue estimates are already at least $160 million below estimate for the new fiscal year, we undoubtedly will face future budget hardships. I am greatly concerned about future shortfalls now that payments on our debt service have reached nearly $1 billion. That is compared to less than $700 million in 2002-03. Although I stood firm against this new budget, I knew there was a better way. I was consistently supportive of House Bill 1943 as a no-tax increase compromise plan that funds essential government services. I still believe it would have been the best solution and would have been one that could viably receive support from both sides of the aisle and both legislative chambers. The budget is still not technically complete as negotiations on table games – to pay for funding for staterelated universities – have reached a standstill. In the meantime, the governor will announce his new budget proposal in early February, and I look forward to what he has to say about his priorities for next year.

Debt�Service,� $996�Million

All�Other�Spending,� $2.77�Billion

Corrections,� $1.79�Billion

Education,� $9.85�Billion

• • • • • •

Public�Welfare,� $10.41�Billion

Higher� Education,�$1.97� Billion

More�than�$2.6�Billion�in�ARRA�Federal�Stimulus�funds�were�used�to�supplant�stat used�to�support�Education�and�Public�Welfare�programs.

GF Debt Service
$1,050,000,000

Schweiker Administration Rendell Administration

$1,000,000,000

$950,000,000

$900,000,000

$850,000,000

$800,000,000

$750,000,000

$700,000,000

$650,000,000

$600,000,000 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06

20

Annual debt service to be paid from the state’s General Fund Budget.

LIHEAP Offers Help with Home Heating Bills
Pennsylvania’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now accepting applications for cash grants. Crisis grants will be available on Jan. 4, 2010. LIHEAP helps low-income people pay their heating bills through home energy assistance grants and crisis grants. Cash grants are awarded based on household income, family size, type of heating fuel and region. Crisis grants are provided in the event of a heating emergency, including broken heating equipment or leaking lines that must be fixed or replaced, lack of fuel, termination of utility service or danger of being without fuel or of having utility service terminated. In most counties, assistance with home heating crisis situations is available 24 hours a day. Applications are available at the Columbia County Assistance Office at 27 East Seventh Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815, or by phone at (570) 387-4232. Applications are also available from local utility companies and community service agencies. Individuals with an income of less than $16,245, couples earning less than $21,855 and a family of four earning less than $33,075 are encouraged to check their eligibility for the program. For complete eligibility requirements and additional information on LIHEAP, visit my Web site at RepMillard.com and click on “LIHEAP Information.”

New Legislation Would Ban Texting While Driving
Legislation is now moving through the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would institute a statewide ban on texting while driving and prohibit the use of cell phones and other wireless communication devices by drivers ages 16 and 17. I believe this is important, commonsense legislation. I have heard from numerous residents who support such a ban, and they believe that a ban on texting will help prevent crashes and save lives. This ban is good public policy that has the support of most Pennsylvanians, and I am pleased to add my support to this proposal. This legislation, House Bill 2070, was introduced on Nov. 9, and was unanimously reported out of the House Transportation Committee on Nov. 10. House Bill 2070 will make such behavior a primary offense, meaning that law enforcement can pull a driver over on the suspicion of texting while driving, and for a junior driver, using a wireless communications device. The proposal is the result of a bipartisan working group of transportation chairmen, committee staff and others, and represents a compromise proposal that is agreeable by major stakeholders. The governor has indicated he will support such legislation. Under the legislation, exemptions would be made for drivers to contact 911 or those who have stopped due to traffic being obstructed. Drivers will be able to text, and junior drivers will be able to use their cell phones, if their vehicles are in park or neutral or the engines are turned off. Those who are found in violation of the legislation will face a fine of $50. Fines would double to $100 if the offense occurs in a school zone, active work zone, highway safety corridor or emergency response area. A portion of the fines will be used for public awareness and education programs for distracted driving. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study determined that truck drivers face a 23 times greater risk of a crash or near crash when texting, and a University of Utah study of a driving simulator found that college students faced an eight times greater crash risk when texting. Our legislation will make it unnecessary for local governments to consider their own laws and will help with consistency across the state. A patchwork of local ordinances restricting texting while driving will cause confusion among motorists and may make it difficult to enforce local laws. A statewide law will send a clearer message that texting and driving is dangerous and will not be tolerated in Pennsylvania.

• DEP • DCNR • State�Police • Agriculture • Labor�and�Industry • Health
*�Partial�List�of�Agencies

All�Other�Spending

te�dollars�in�this�year’s�budget.�Most�ARRA�funds were�

006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

State Rep. Karen Boback (R-Colombia/Luzerne/ Wyoming) and I met up with members of the Benton High School FFA. During their visit, we talked about issues regarding the future of agriculture and their efforts back home to foster agricultural-related careers.

This summer, I led a meeting of legislators whose districts are home to a Pennsylvania fair. The meeting focused on advocating for agricultural issues.

State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann (center) recently traveled to Bloomsburg to educate local first responders about the grant-writing process. Pictured with us is Robert Rupp, deputy chief of the Bloomsburg Fire Company. The workshop included information on applying for both state and federal grant programs.

Get the latest news on my Web site: RepMillard.com

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended to Dec. 31
The deadline to file for the 2008 Property Tax/Rent Rebate has been extended until Dec. 31. Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2008. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with permanent disabilities. Homeowners with household incomes of up to $35,000 qualify, along with renters with household incomes of up to $15,000. Applicants can also use an automated phone service to check their rebate status by calling, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES, or by visiting PAPropertyTaxRelief.com. My office staff will be happy to help you fill out the paperwork. More information is available on my Web site at RepMillard.com.

Members of my Berwick and Bloomsburg offices are available to help you with all sorts of state-government related issues. From applications for state programs to obtain copies of state legislation, my staff can assist you with your questions or can put you in the right direction. My district staff includes (from left) Trudy Stout, Chris Yacina, Sandy Robbins and Lisa Wagner. They are assisted by Denise Murray (not pictured) in my Capitol office.

District Office Services
> > > > > > > > > > > > > > State Forms and Applications State tax forms Property Tax & Rent Rebate applications PACE & PACENET applications Voter registration forms Motor vehicle forms Birth & Death certificates Drivers Licenses & Vehicle Registration renewals Handicapped parking placards/plates Reservations for state Capitol tours Informational Brochures & Booklets Free state maps and vacation guides Copies of legislation Student aid applications

On the Air with Rep. Millard
Tune into WHLM on the last Thursday morning of each month to hear Rep. David Millard’s callin program. He’s typically on the air starting at 8:15 a.m.*
*Subject to last-minute programming changes

STATE REPRESENTATIVE DAVID MILLARD’S OFFICES...HERE TO HELP YOU
BERWICK OFFICE 904B Orange Street Berwick, PA 18603 Phone: (570) 759-8734 BLOOMSBURG OFFICE 605 W. Main Street Bloomsburg, PA 17815 Phone: (570) 387-0246 CAPITOL OFFICE 402-B Irvis Office Bldg. P.O. Box 202109 Harrisburg, PA 17120-2109 Phone: (717) 783-1102 E-mail: Dmillard@pahousegop.com On the Web: RepMillard.com

On the Web at RepMillard.com Serving the People of the 109th Legislative District

David Millard
State Representative

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID HARRISBURG, PA PERMIT NO. 529