Gov. Tom Wolf visits Carnegie to discuss Restore Pennsylvania initiative
Gov. Tom Wolf stopped by the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall on March 6 to share plans for his Restore Pennsylvania initiative, an effort that would supply funds for victims of natural disasters and to prevent flooding, something Carnegie residents are all too familiar with.
“I think we have a historic opportunity to make sure what happened here in Carnegie doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Restore Pennsylvania would invest $4.5 billion over the next four years in projects that include flood prevention, blight elimination and ensuring residents have access to high-speed internet.
It would be done through what Wolf calls a commonsense, not punitive severance tax that is in line with what other states are charging, he said. “Every other state that is producing natural gas has a severance tax.”
“You’re paying for the roads and the bridges. In Texas, for example, they bring in billions of dollars in severance taxes,” Wolf told attendees, who filled the music hall. “We pay for everybody else’s public goods; no one pays for ours.”
One of the hardest conversations Wolf said he has with people is when they’ve lost something such as a home or land.
“We can actually do something other than say, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ ” he said.
State Sen. Wayne Fontana talked about the floods that have struck Carnegie over the years, from the flood of 2004 to Chartiers Creek rising again in 2008.
State Rep. Anita Kulik said she always struggles when she has to tell residents, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing that the state has in place for you.”
“Carnegie has been hit over the decades with flooding,” she said.
But the community has always bounced back. She’s proud of Carnegie and that it’s become a “destination town.” She loves that she now has to park far away sometimes to get to town. That means people are there enjoying what Carnegie has to offer.
“Carnegie is resilient,” she told the governor.
Of course, during his visit, Wolf had to tour the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall.
“The library is a huge part (of Carnegie),” said Councilwoman Regina Popichak. “It’s quite nice to be able to show off our little jewel on the hill.”
Wolf recited statistics about the building that he learned on the tour when asked for his thoughts on it.
“He unequivocally picked up on the magic of the library and music hall,” executive director Maggie Forbes said. “Seeing it through his eyes, it was the recognition that this is a magical place.”
Known more fondly as the “Carnegie Carnegie,” a Library Park project is in the works to create a whimsical experience on the hillside in front of the historic center, with winding paths, benches, trees and public art.
However, the hillside in front of the library and music hall itself hasn’t escaped the wrath of the weather. A mudslide last year cost $185,000 to repair. Carnegie Borough paid a portion of that.
Wolf used this as an example of something Restore Pennsylvania could help with.
Carnegie leaders were excited to have Wolf visit the borough and see the community firsthand.
“It was huge to be able to have the governor come to Carnegie, especially with Restore Pennsylvania,” said Mayor Stacie Riley. “It’s something that can definitely impact our community.”