As the General Assembly prepares for its 2013-2014 session, state Sen. Tim Solobay has been appointed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Democratic Leaders announced Tuesday .
“A voice on appropriations is certainly a big honor, but it’s also a big responsibility,” Solobay, D-Canonsburg, said. “The budget challenges we face are daunting and its going to take some creativity and cooperation to get through it.”
With pensions, transportation infrastructure, education and job creation on the agenda this spring, the Appropriations Committee will be a busy group as many different issues compete for limited resources, Solobay said.
“I think I was chosen for the committee because of my record of working with members on both sides of the aisle to come up with reasonable solutions without partisan fighting,” Solobay said. “Going forward we’ll need to put some pressing needs ahead of politics.”
Along with the appropriations appointment, Solobay’s other committees include:
Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness (Democratic Chair) –"My experience as a first responder and my work with emergency workers across Pennsylvania made this committee a priority for me. I've spent nearly four decades as a firefighter so I bring more to the table than most of my colleagues. I know the issues and concerns.
"Volunteers and professional emergency service workers across the state are seeing tremendous challenges and opportunities brought on by changing technology.”
In the last session, Solobay said he fought both to protect firefighters by making sure new buildings using newer, lightweight materials were served by sprinkler systems and to cut Pennsylvania’s high rate of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was able to increase the state’s Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program by $5 million while enabling the funding to assist professional as well as volunteer companies.
Solobay also noted that the wars in the Middle East have caused longer and more frequent deployments than National Guard families had encountered before, requiring updates to current law.
“Making sure that their service to their country is rewarded and honored in a fair and deserving way should be a top priority in Pennsylvania,” he said. In the previous session, Solobay said he ushered through bills to help military spouses continue their education.
This session, Solobay has committed to preserving the jobs and service of the Air Force’s 911th Airlift Wing and the Air National Guard’s 171st Refueling Wing at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Solobay recently joined Gov. Tom Corbett for a tour of the facility where legislators from both sides of the aisle gathered to show opposition to U.S. Defense Department plans to retire the 911th’s cargo planes.
“Preserving the 911th is a critical mission for the region,” Solobay said. “In addition to more than $120 million in economic impact, it’s one of the most efficient and cost-effective operations in the military.”
The 911th employs 1,900 civilian and military personnel and pays only $20,000 per year to lease two 10,000-foot runways to fly its seven C-130 transports.
Transportation – “Across my district there is a tremendous amount of road construction taking place and that means jobs and long-term economic strength. The recent announcement of the revival of the Southern Beltway project is a sign that economic growth in the region is drawing attention. Having a voice on the transportation committee provides an opportunity to keep our needs in the forefront of the discussion and continue the momentum we’re seeing. It’s also no secret that the existing transportation infrastructure across the Commonwealth is in need of new investment. The Transportation Committee will play the critical role of coming up with the blueprint and the processes by which this enormous effort will implemented.”
Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure – “As a member of this committee, I work with issues directly affecting the lives of virtually every constituent. Issues as far ranging as home construction contractors, healthcare and prescription services, speech and language pathology, telemarketing, and different aspects of various utilities including natural gas and electricity, all call for legislation to make sure that our citizens can make well-informed decisions and are treated fairly in their transactions.”
Agriculture – “As I travel throughout Greene, Beaver, and Washington counties and talk to the farmers, I understand their struggles and challenges. I can see firsthand the amazing amount of work that not only goes into their livelihoods, but their lives. Agriculture is not just a part of Pennsylvania’s heritage, it’s also a critical driver of our economy. The farms in my district play a vital role in the region and preserving the agricultural way of life is vital to everyone.”
Policy Committee –“The Policy Committee is responsible for holding topical hearings on current issues that have an urgent need for a forum to investigate and educate in order for the Senate to act or react to issues in a well-informed fashion.”