Shuster makes last push with funds, ads for primary

With days left to fend off two Republican primary challengers, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, has launched his last counterattack, raising hefty last-minute funds, running new commercials and boasting of endorsements from famous Republican figures.

Facing challenges from Manns Choice veteran and developer Art Halvorson and Franklin County engineering coordinator Travis Schooley, Shuster has wielded his resources on the airwaves as donors continue to offer campaign money.

He raised $40,000 in the seven days up to Friday, finance reports indicate, and has produced commercials citing support from Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Halvorson and Schooley haven’t submitted the same last-minute reports, indicating they haven’t received a similar cash injection late in the game.

Primary reminders

Democratic and Republican primary polls are set to open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m., according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Voters throughout the region in both major parties will have chances to vote in contested races, from the hard-fought governor’s contest among Democrats to a slate of local and regional legislative races among Republicans.

Information on the primary, including polling sites, can be found by calling your county election office or online at

Eichelberger takes a key slot

State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, is set to take up a position on the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, the group of legislators who act as gatekeepers for spending bills, his staff announced Friday in a news release.

The state budget process, which will likely heat up as summer approaches, depends closely on the appropriations committees. As a member, Eichelberger will hold greater sway over the direction of budget negotiations.

Eichelberger, who is unopposed in his re-election bid, already sits on several committees and heads the Local Government Committee.

Movie bill to star in Senate committee

A bill by state Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Martinsburg, that would release tens of millions of dollars in unused film tax breaks could soon be on the red carpet to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk.

The bill, introduced earlier this year, passed the House on May 6 in a 180-21 vote. On Friday, it was referred to the Senate Finance Committee for its first consideration in the upper chamber.

Stern’s bill would release $22.5 million in unused film tax credits – the breaks offered to film crews for working in Pennsylvania. The credits, which are capped at $60 million per year, sometimes go unused. The bill would allow them to be issued retroactively.

In a memo accompanying the proposal, Stern said the $367 million worth of credits the state has handed out in recent years has recouped $2.7 billion in economic activity. He’s pointed to movies that took the credits and filmed in the state, including “Unstoppable,” the 2010 action-thriller that featured some scenes in Tyrone.

Opponents, however, have cited a 2013 state fiscal study that indicated the state makes only 14 cents in film-related tax revenue for every dollar offered in breaks.