Salisbury Press

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Penn State political forum offers a window into the views of local legislators

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 by TYLER D. MARTIN in Local News

The Penn State Lehigh Valley Political Society and Student Government Association sponsored a "Meet Your Legislator Event" at the Center Valley Campus Oct. 11.

State Senator Lisa Boscola, D-18th, State Representative Gary Day, R-187th, and State Representative Justin Simmons, R-131st, attended the event to speak to students and answer questions about state policy.

"We love events like this because it gives us a second to pause, think about our day and talk to people," Day said. "It is wonderful to speak to a crowd who is younger, yet highly engaged."

The SGA and Political Society selected the questions for the first half of the meet and greet and many of the questions revolved around education and job creation.

When asked about state funding for special needs students, Boscola said, "We need to fund special education dramatically but we cannot let it take away from the education of other students."

She said, as legislators, they are almost always looking for a balance when they examine each issue.

Students wanted to know what the job market would be like upon graduation and what legislators are doing to make improvements.

Boscola said the great work ethic of Pennsylvanians and the abundance of universities, providing a skilled workforce, enhance the job market. She also said aging infrastructure, including many crumbling roads and bridges, can be a deterrent for companies looking to move to the state.

Simmons said Pennsylvania has the "highest corporate net income tax" and told the audience working to reduce the rate would help lure more employers to the state.

Day also gave a look into what he hopes for the future of Pennsylvania from a political standpoint.

"The first thing we (the Republican controlled House) did was get our financial house in order," Day said. "We now need to focus on infrastructure improvement and high quality education."

When asked about U.S. students' low educational ranking compared to many other industrialized nations, Day said we need to "be critical of the data we are chasing after."

He said there is a good chance our data is more honest and real than numbers coming from many other nations and told students to always analyze statistics carefully to find what they really mean.

The crowd was allowed to ask questions for the second half of the forum and the personal discussions extended into life advice, a description of their jobs and how they became elected officials.

The forum offered an open window into the various viewpoints of three very different legislators while highlighting how they each want to do a good job for the constituents they serve.