Local business leaders had a chance to talk with Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley on Wednesday during a business roundtable held in the West Penn Annex, Route 309.
The discussion was hosted by state Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124. State Reps. Doyle Heffley, R-122, and Tarah Toohil, R-116, and state Sen. David Argall, R-29, were also in attendance, along with several business leaders.
Cawley said that since January 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has been working hard for all those assembled around the table, and since when they were elected, they promised to restore fiscal discipline to Harrisburg.
He said they also promised that while working to reign in spending, they wouldn’t be asking Pennsylvania residents to dig deeper in their pockets with more taxes.
“Last year, Gov. (Tom) Corbett and our legislative colleagues made good on that promise,” Cawley said. “The last thing that we wanted to do was add to their burden by increasing their taxes.”
Cawley said that the state is now about $500 million under revenue projections.
According to Cawley, Corbett said Pennsylvania faces many challenges and the best way to improve the state’s economic standing is by empowering the private sector to create family sustaining jobs.
“One of the things that comes through loud and clear, and we did a couple of novel things, is maybe government can be a partner with the private sector,” he said. “One of the things we thought we might do is try to turn to groups like this and ask what can we do, how can we help.”
During the second half of the roundtable, the attendees had a chance to ask Cawley some questions.
David Crouse, Deer Lake borough council president and owner of 3C’s Family Restaurant, Route 61, just north of Port Clinton, asked about the status of the Defense of Marriage Act in Pennsylvania.
“When you really talk about trying to fix our commonwealth and our state and the work ethic of people, we need to be looking at how we can preserve marriage between a man and a woman,” Crouse said.
Toohil said that Crouse was one of the first constituents to bring that act up in quite some time, but it is considered to be something embraced by most conservative Republicans. Toohil and Cawley said they would research the status and get back to Crouse.
Some of the other questions included the status of property tax reform by Alfonso Martinez, chairman of the West Penn Township supervisors, while Jack Murphy, vice president of the Orwigsburg Business and Professional Association and a member of the Orwigsburg Community Revitalization Committee, asked if there would be any room in the state budget for grants and other funding for community redevelopment in small communities like Orwigsburg.
Cawley told Murphy that funds coming from the state are currently limited and legislative initiative grants are unlikely.