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Summer - Fall 2010

Dear Neighbor,
As the end of the 2009-10 legislative session approaches, there are many challenges still facing our Commonwealth. I want to take this opportunity to update you on the status of the important issues state government is striving to manage. The economy and jobs are certainly the biggest concerns, as we continue to recuperate from the worldwide economic downturn. As the economy faltered so did state revenue collections, leading to 25 consecutive months of revenue collections failing to meet projections. Finally in June, the streak was broken and the state actually brought in more revenue than anticipated – mostly due to a successful tax amnesty program and licenses for table games. This is very important because our state budget is based on this revenue forecasting. I am hopeful collections will continue to exceed projections because this will help the state avoid future budget cuts. Speaking of the budget, the state finally passed a budget on time for the first time during the eight-year Rendell administration. I voted against the spending plan, and you can read more about my reasons for this in this newsletter’s budget article. Finally, I want to remind you that my office is here to assist you with any of your staterelated needs. If you would like information about state legislation, need help working with a state department or agency, or if you have any questions or concerns, you can contact my offices in Berwick, Bloomsburg, or Harrisburg. (Detailed contact information is available on the back of this newsletter.) You can also find valuable information on my website, RepMillard.com, and on my Facebook page, Facebook.com/RepMillard Facebook.com/RepMillard. Best wishes for the rest of your summer! Respectfully,

Millard Commends Federal Decision to Deny I-80 Tolling
Good news was delivered to Columbia County and communities all across Pennsylvania’s Interstate 80 corridor when the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) denied an application by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) to toll the highway. This message illustrates that government officials do listen to the people and can make the right decision. It would have been inherently unfair to allow the tolling and further damage our struggling economy. By denying this application, the FHWA has told the Turnpike Commission that it cannot impose tolls on an area of the state that will not directly benefit from them. Essentially, PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission cannot rely on poor public policy to continue sending money to failing mass transit systems and congested highway systems our residents will never use. The Federal Highway Administration considered the application to toll I-80 as part of the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program. This was the second time the PTC submitted its full application. In late 2007, the FHWA returned the proposal seeking additional information, and in September 2008, the application was denied by the Bush administration. Whether the denial was based on a questionable market valuation, the increasingly suspect Turnpike Commission or a failure to appropriately address the strict criteria of the pilot program, the agency evidently understood that there were more reasons to deny the tolling than to approve it. I am pleased the FHWA has not succumbed to the pressures of politics inside the Washington, D.C., Beltway and have really listened to those who will be most affected by this decision. The governor has convened a special session of the Legislature to develop other alternatives for transportation funding needs, but we can be confident that his plan to toll I-80 has reached a dead end.

Sign Up Now to Receive Electronic Newsletters
I have been investigating alternative ways to communicate with you that are informative, environmentally friendly and cost effective. Although constituents tell me they are worthwhile, newsletters can be costly to mail. Using improved technology, electronic communication is an effective tool to keep you informed. Via e-mail and the web, I am able to communicate with you at a greatly reduced cost. To accomplish this goal, I am offering you the option of receiving all future newsletters from my office in an online format. If you’d like to make the switch, please take a moment and log onto my website at RepMillard.com and click on the “e-newsletter” icon. A simple form will be there for you to complete. If you choose to do nothing, you will continue to receive my future newsletters in the mail. To receive additional news, if you’re on Facebook, make sure to follow me at Facebook.com/RepMillard. Facebook.com/RepMillard

David R. Millard State Representative 109th Legislative District

Constituent Survey

In order for me to provide the best representation in Harrisburg for our district, I want to know what your opinions are on the issues. Could you please take a minute and complete this brief survey so I can learn your opinion on legislation before the House of Representatives. I look forward to reading your responses. Fill out the questions here, or save time and a stamp by filling it out online at RepMillard.com.

Tell Me What You Think
Support Oppose Do you support or oppose merging PennDOT with the Turnpike Commission to save on administrative costs and reduce government overhead? Support Oppose

1)

Do you support or oppose the governor’s proposal to increase the state’s gasoline tax?

2)

3)

Do you support or oppose the privatization of Pennsylvania’s state-owned liquor stores? Support Oppose

4)

Do you support or oppose all new home construction being required to include a fire-suppression sprinkler system? Support Oppose

5)

Do you support charging an extraction tax on natural gas if the money raised is sent to Pennsylvania’s General Fund to replace $5 billion in lost revenue? Or if the money raised is used to ensure industry regulation and enforcement by DEP and the conservation districts? General Fund Enforcement/Regulation Don’t support tax

6)

Do you use any of the following social networks on at least a weekly basis? Facebook Twitter YouTube

Additional Comments: _________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Thanks so much for your replies! If you’re mailing your answers in, please send them to my Bloomsburg office: 605 West Main St., Bloomsburg PA, 17815. Remember, you can answer online at RepMillard.com.

A Look at the Pennsylvania State Budget
As you may have seen in news reports, Pennsylvania has a state budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The appropriations bill was passed in the House and the Senate by the constitutionally mandated deadline of June 30; however, Gov. Ed Rendell signed it about a week later. Though I’m pleased that Pennsylvanians didn’t have to endure a saga like the 101-day late state budget in 2009, the final plan failed to earn my support for several reasons: - This budget relies on more than $2.7 billion in stimulus funding from the federal government. At the time of the budget passage, the numbers only worked if Pennsylvania received $850 million that had not yet been authorized by Congress. In recent weeks, Congress passed a bill that will bring at least some of those funds to the Commonwealth, but the total will be at least $200 million short of what had been expected. In other words, it was balanced on the premise of money that we do not have. - The budget does not meet necessary fiscal obligations to fund state pensions (see more on this issue in the pension article in this newsletter), thereby potentially setting up more future problems. - The “balanced” budget is predicated on financial commitments from an as-of-yet not instituted tax on natural gas income from the Marcellus Shale. Basing financial practices on income that does not yet exist is simply not sound planning.

Senior Expo a Great Success
Seniors from all over Columbia County recently enjoyed a great morning at our annual Senior Expo at the Espy Fire Hall. More than 400 seniors visited the dozens of vendors that we had on hand to learn important information on state and community resources that are available to them.

House Approves Public Pension Reforms
The House recently approved a public pension reform bill that would fulfill the state’s obligations to current workers and retirees while taking steps to reduce the long-term burden on Pennsylvania taxpayers. The legislation aims to smooth out what has become a potentially crippling crisis resulting from Act 9, a 2001 law that increased pensions for state workers and school employees but left taxpayers on the hook for a bill that would come due in 2012. The reforms are aimed at two pension systems: the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS). These pension systems are funded primarily through three sources: employee contributions, employer contributions and investment returns. The state makes the employer contribution for the state workers’ pension system. The state and local school districts make the employer contribution for the public school teachers’ pension system. Due to a combination of investment downturns and the global economic crisis, as well as increasing benefits and a cost-of-living adjustment for retired employees, the state and local school districts are facing a sharp increase in employer contributions to the pension funds in the next few years. The changes included in House Bill 2497, the bill that recently passed in the House by a vote of 192-6, would “smooth out” those increases (similar to a home re-financing) while also implementing pension benefit reforms, resulting in short-term relief and long-term cost reductions for taxpayers. House Bill 2497 would not reduce pension benefits for these current employees and retirees in the two systems. In actuality, the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibit making changes to pensions for existing workers and retirees due to contractual law. Furthermore, the House bill also would implement pension reforms for future state workers and teachers. These reforms include increasing the amount of time a teacher or worker must be employed before they are entitled to certain pension benefits. It also increases the amount of time they must serve before they can retire. Together, these reforms stand to benefit taxpayers and protect current pension plan participants. If something is not done to address this looming crisis, Pennsylvania families could be facing a massive tax increase. While House Bill 2479 will not solve all of the problems facing our state pension systems, I support it because I believe it is an important first step toward keeping the systems healthy without placing a greater burden on Pennsylvania taxpayers. The bill is currently in the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

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

New Website Offers Help for Consumers Selecting Electric Provider
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is now offering consumers who are shopping for a competitive electric generation supplier a one-stop shop website for residential, commercial and industrial customers. The website includes information about electric shopping, what it is, how to shop and which suppliers are available, as well as the PUC’s list of competing suppliers and the Office of Consumer Advocate’s Shopping Guide pricing information. A ZIP code search feature is also available so consumers can see all suppliers and offers serving a given area. For a link to the website and further information about electric rate information, visit RepMillard.com.

On the Air with Rep. Millard
Tune into WHLM (930 AM) on the last Thursday morning of each month to hear Rep. David Millard’s legislative update program. He’s typically on the air starting at 8:15 a.m.*
*Subject to last-minute programming changes

Our staff is here to serve you.
(front row from left) Bloomsburg office: Lisa Wagner and Sandy Robbins; Berwick office: Trudy Stout and Chris Yacina. With Rep. Millard in the back row is Denise Murray, Capitol office.

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STATE REPRESENTATIVE DAVID MILLARD’S OFFICES
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 Find me on Facebook.com/RepMillard