Even on the strictest of diets, people love to sneak in a piece of pie now and then. Here in Mercer County when it comes to grabbing a piece of the Pennsylvania budget pie, we can’t seem to get a nibble.

We’re starving financially in this county, but when it comes to doling out money for state projects our plate more often than not seems to come up empty.

The Pennsylvania Legislature, two weeks late, recently passed a $27.2 billion budget. We pay these people big money to serve us and they can’t even pass a budget on time.

What is worse every year is that when money is handed out for pet projects of legislators, we seem to be scraping for pennies. A lot of money goes to bigger cities because that’s where the votes are. That’s politics at its best — worst for us.

The budget contains some good news that will help Mercer County. There is an increase in money for social services, which is much needed. In the past, our commissioners have often complained that counties are being forced to absorb more of the cost for social services, once funded by the state.

But we’re still awaiting the bad news. We’re talking about the news on how little our area will receive as part of the $40 million “community revitalization” program that pays for a range of grants requested by House and Senate members. In the past, we have had paltry amounts coming to us. Who is more in need of community revitalization?

Last year they handed out money for stuff like a bookmobile for Greene County libraries and new instruments for the Susquehanna Valley Chorale. How revitalizing is that?

And while we can expect little in the way of budget frills, the recent passage of the state’s transportation bill will hurt Mercer County. It includes tolls on Route I-80, one of the most traveled highways in the United States. The move will require federal approval, but that kind of stuff is usually rubber-stamped. Unless our federal elected officials can raise enough stink, it will hurt Pennsylvania.

Some travelers, who might have stopped here to shop, eat or get gas, might now avoid the area. Businesses or industries that might have come here, or even to other areas deeper in Pennsylvania, will now head for other states where they won’t have to pay tolls for their trucks to transport goods.

It might even be bad enough for current Pennsylvania businesses to pull out.

NOTE TO STATE OFFICIALS: We want you to attract jobs, not drive them away.

Of course it doesn’t help our local citizenry either, since we will now have to pay tolls to travel across the state on main highways. How many of us will reconsider vacation plans into other areas of Pennsylvania?

The worst thing about the I-80 toll program is that the money is earmarked to help Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

What about us?

We’re still starving for a piece of that budget pie. Even Little Jack Horner stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum.

Recommended for you