The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

August 23, 2013

Toomey talks issues over lunch

Jobs, health care, deficits on menu

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and some of his constituents talked about the issues of the day during a legislative lunch Thursday at Park Inn by Radisson, Shenango Township.

The session sponsored by six area chambers of commerce from Mercer and Lawrence counties as well as Penn Northwest Development Corp., covered such topics as federal spending and budget deficits, jobs and the economy, health care, regulation, tort reform, medical liability and others.

Toomey, whose last local visit was in Grove City last year, was making his first visit to the Shenango Valley as senator since the Republican was elected three years ago.

“I’m all about economic development,” Toomey told the gathering of some 70 lunch guests mostly from business, industry, government and social service agencies.

“I’m all about making the policy changes needed so we can reach our potential in our woefully underperforming economy.”

Toomey serves on the finance, budget, banking and joint economic committees.

Controlling federal spending is high on the action list, he said, citing an expected deficit of $500 billion for the current fiscal year.

Toomey blamed Obama administration policies for the lagging pace of growth since the 2008 recession ended. He cited “excessive regulation that imposes costs on employers” as well as the Dodd-Frank Act, legislation aimed at financial reform that Toomey said reduces lenders’ willingness to issue housing loans.

“We would have the bounce back and growth in jobs that we have always had after other recessions if we had the right policies,” Toomey said.

Controlling spending is a daunting task, he said, citing the Affordable Care Act – dubbed “Obamacare” by the law’s opponents – as an example of how hard it can be to cut funding as a tactic to slow the implementation of the law.

“I think the immediate thing to do is to defund Obamacare and then work on what comes next,” said Michelle Zolnier, a Social Security-age retiree from Hermitage.

That’s not so easily done, Toomey said, because as much as 85 percent of health care funding comes not directly through the health care law but through Social Security and other federal programs.

Unpopular as the health care law may be in some quarters, changes it has brought are a welcome improvement to many, including women, Becky McFadden, of Greenville said.

McFadden heads the board of AWARE, the nonprofit that deals with domestic and sexual violence, but said she wasn’t  speaking on behalf of the organization.

She cited coverage examples important to women, such as pregnancy, annual mammograms, contraception of all types for all women and coverage of college age children up to age 26. Those benefits often were not available under health insurance plans before  the health care law required them to be offered, McFadden said.

Toomey said he favors individual ownership of health care plans with tax-deductible premiums as the way for people to buy plans that include coverages they want.

“Those might be important benefits to you but not to someone else,” he said.

Toomey got a thank-you for his support of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

He had earlier opposed the law but advocacy groups for women were successful in changing his mind last year and he voted to renew the law that provides funding for a crucial local program, said Lizette Olsen, executive director of AWARE.

“Because of funding under that law we were able to serve 1,500 victims,” Olsen said. “We were able to build a closer relationship with police agencies and we have a dedicated investigator at the county level.”

The three-year Mercer County STOP grant renewal she described provides $125,000 a year in funding for services, training, officers and prosecution of offenders.

Mercer County Commissioner John Lechner noted the slow pace of efforts to replace the Ohl Street bridge in Greenville as an example of regulations that he said are more harmful than helpful.

A lengthy state review to determine if the bridge has historic value is one reason it has been closed for four years while the county tries to replace it, he said.

Toomey told Lechner and others at the lunch that they should contact his office for help and he and his staff will do what they can to help them work through problems.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Better security Grant available to boost security in district courts

    County officials are looking to quickly upgrade security systems in the five district judge offices, not due to an increase in risk, but because current systems are antiquated and there is a short window to apply for some financial help with the costs.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials split over selling older monitors

    What to do with a pile of older LCD computer monitors, keyboards and mice remains up in the air until the third, and often absent, county commissioner makes a decision.

    July 24, 2014

  • Police anxious to talk with victim

    Sharon police want to talk to a West Hill man about several other men who came to his house shortly before he was shot and critically wounded Tuesday.

    July 24, 2014

  • AED presentation Heart-friendly pool

    The Lackawannock-Shenango-West Middlesex Pool has some pretty obvious changes from when it was opened almost 46 years ago.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story