Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley joined state and local Republicans at the Pottsville Club on Wednesday night as the keynote speaker for the 55th annual Lincoln Day Dinner hosted by the Schuylkill County Republican Committee.
Before dinner, Cawley also made a brief appearance at the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce “Business After 5 o’clock” mixer with The Seltzer Group and Edwards Business Systems in Schuylkill Haven, where he also talked about Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget and the plan to privatize state liquor stores.
“It’s the third year in a row we are working with our friends in the Legislature to make sure government stays within its means and that we don’t spend any more than we have. It’s the third year in a row in which we are not going to raise Pennsylvania’s taxes,” Cawley said Wednesday. “It is a budget that supports education.”
Cawley said the budget will put $5.5 billion into state education, $1.6 billion into higher education and $438 million into Head Start and early children learning programs.
“We are continuing our partnership with the private sector to put Pennsylvanians back to work. We must be on the right track. Since Gov. Corbett and I took office, the private sector has been able to create 109,000 new jobs, which is more than New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and all our border states,” Cawley said. “That’s more of a tribute to the private sector but we have helped by doing things like lowering the capital stock and franchise tax. With this budget, it will be gone by January 2014.”
Cawley said privatizing state liquor stores will create more jobs and put even more money into education.
“It is well-documented that the governor and I think it’s time for the state to end its state-run liquor monopoly and let the private sector do what it is they do best and that is create family sustaining jobs and put more Pennsylvanians to work by allowing alcohol to be more accessible in various venues and locations.”
Cawley noted that Pennsylvania and Utah are the only two states in the country with government-owned retail liquor monopolies.
“We think it’s time for Pennsylvania to come into the 21st century,” Cawley said. “With the sale of that system, we would like to drive more money into education and some very specific areas like school safety.”
Revising the state pension plan is also a top priority for Pennsylvania, Cawley said.
“We are going to stop kicking the can down the road and finally tackle the pension issue,” Cawley said.
Cawley said the discussions have already started with the Legislature and included adopting something similar to a 401(k)-type program. “And finally but certainly not least would be our need to invest in our roads and bridges in this state,” Cawley said. “The governor proposed a plan that could create as much as $1.8 billion to be driven into making sure our roads and bridges are state of the art, which we think is a critical part to the economic development and job creation plan that we have been talking about.”
Improving state infrastructure is also a matter of public safety, Cawley said.
“Every school day, 1.5 million of our children use our roadways to and from school, including my son,” Cawley said. “I, as a Pennsylvanian, would like to make sure these roads are safe.”
Cawley said Pennsylvania’s best and brightest days lie ahead and a few decisions are needed to put the state on the right road.
“I think it’s an ambitious agenda for us but we think that Pennsylvania is ready for this agenda. That’s why we are very passionate about it and that’s why I am here today to talk about it with my friends in the greater Pottsville area.”
Vic Stabile, a Republican running for state superior court judge, was also at the Pottsville Club on Wednesday night.
Stabile has more than 30 years of trial and appellate court experience and was recommended by the state Bar Association for the position.
Also attending the dinner Wednesday were state Sen. David Argall, R-29; state Reps. Jerry Knowles, R-124, and Mike Tobash, R-125; county commissioners Chairman Frank J. Staudenmeier; Commissioner George Halcovage; and other county and local elected officials. Pennsylvania State Fair Queen Rhonda Carl, Hegins, was also at the event.