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Some Connellsville representatives voice concerns with governor's budget proposals

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

After listening to Gov. Tom Corbett's budget address on Tuesday, state Sen. Richard Kasunic, a Democrat, said he has concerns about the direction and the positioning that's taking place in the commonwealth.

“We're selling off state assets to balance the budget,” Kasunic said.

Corbett, in addressing the House and Senate on Tuesday, said he was proud to have worked with the Legislature over the past two years to make Pennsylvania a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Kasunic questioned Corbett's statement.

“Eighty percent of school districts had to raise taxes and we lost 15,000 school employees the last two years,” Kasunic said. State Rep. Deberah Kula, a Democrat, in a released statement, said the governor said very little in the more than one-hour speech.

“But what he did say should worry workers, families and retirees,” Kula stated. “The governor wants to continue his cuts in education, sell the PA Lottery to a lone bidder, and dismantle the state stores.”

Kula said the proposed budget will not create a single job.

Corbett did propose in the address the state get out of the liquor business and put that money toward education.

“Selling liquor is not a core function of government. Education is,” Corbett said.

In terms of the Pennsylvania Lottery, Corbett said the move to privatize that industry would add $50 million to senior programs and will help modernize programs at senior centers.

State Rep. Mike Reese, a Republican, said what was proposed on Tuesday was just a starting point.

“He laid out three main priorities: liquor privatization, transportation and pension reform,” Reese said. “All of these issues require a comprehensive study and input from all of the stakeholders involved.”

Reese, who's on the Liquor Control Committee, said he expects the liquor privatization issue to be debated and discussed on the House floor.

But during the upcoming discussion of the budget and receiving input from different agencies and organizations, Reese said he wants to see a budget that holds the line on spending and still meets the needs of Pennsylvania residents.

“We must remember that we still have a sluggish economy where many taxpayers are struggling with the day-to-day expenses of living,” Reese said. “This must be first and foremost in the minds of the servants of the residents.”

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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