HARRISBURG, February 14, 2011 – State Sen. Larry Farnese today called upon the members of the legislature to focus their attention to the immediate needs of Pennsylvanians.

“We have been in session from six weeks now under a new governor and new leadership in the General Assembly, under some of the most difficult financial times we’ve seen,” Farnese said. “The two pieces of legislation that have advanced through committee faster than anything else are Senate Bill 3, to restrict abortion coverage under a health insurance exchange that won’t even exist for three years and Senate Bill 9, an immigration bill.

“In short, the priority has been given to wedge social issues, not the most pressing issues facing Pennsylvanians right now.”

Farnese said those pressing needs are:

  • adultBasic – funding for adultBasic is expected to run out this month. Senate Bill 420, introduced by Sen. Mike Stack, would use the legislative leadership surplus to extend funding for this program.

“We understand funding is short,” Farnese said. “As democrats, we are asking, ‘How can we continue this program? How can we get it done? Our Republican colleagues don’t think the question even needs to be asked.”

  • Jobs – Farnese said that the focus needs to be on getting Pennsylvanians back to work. The Senate Democrats are working on a jobs program, but Farnese said that there is legislation, such as the 15-year tax abatement bill for construction in depressed areas, that could spur jobs in the construction industry. Farnese added that Republican members have similar bills.
  • Marcellus Shale – Farnese said that Marcellus Shale is “the biggest boom to the Pennsylvania economy in decades. He added that there are many different view points on the issue, but that the legislature should be discussing how the environment can be protected while the state receives its fair share of revenue from natural gas extraction.

Farnese added that his Republican colleagues often talk about running things like the private sector.

“In the private sector, you take the best ideas from your competition and your industry and you put them to work in your business,” Farnese said. “Every other state has a severance tax on gas extraction, we don’t. It should be on the table.”

Farnese added that there are many good ideas on both sides of the aisle and legislators should be debating these issues and moving these bills forward instead of adjourning for two weeks.

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