The City of Altoona is doing a good job under its current financial circumstances, state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. told members of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Club Thursday at The Casino at Lakemont Park.
In May, the state accepted Altoona into its Act 47 Distressed Municipalities Program.
"It will be a long process; they would like to get out of it quickly, hopefully they will. They got into it a lot earlier than many other municipalities around the state," Eichelberger, R-Blair, said. "People don't get into it until they have no place to go. We allow municipalities to get to the point where they are almost bankrupt, then they get into this and the state tries to help."
Eichelberger touched on several topics about cutting the size of government during his annual question-and-answer session with chamber members.
He said he favors legislation to cut the size of the Legislature.
"But we can't backfill that with more staff people. We have to get rid of the junk, a lot of the mailings that are sent out," Eichelberger said.
Some offices have staff people who cut out newspaper clippings about things like anniversaries and graduations and mail them to constituents, Eichelberger said.
"In my first term, I saved $500,000 by not doing that type of stuff. We don't send out newsletters. We need to knock off extraneous activity and save a lot of money," Eichelberger said.
The state needs to do a better job handling its transportation funding, he said.
"The state police funding should be moved out of transportation funding. We also need to look at common-sense measures like how often you get your driver's license renewed and how often you get a new sticker for your license plate," Eichelberger said.
He also favors getting rid of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
"The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is $7 million in the hole because they keep borrowing from the state's transportation needs. We have to close out the turnpike commission and get all of the politics out of it and address the needs we have in funding," Eichelberger said.
Eichelberger again expressed his support of school vouchers.
"We need to put the kids first, give parents and kids the opportunity to make the best decision on which way to go," Eichelberger said. "Schools are very expensive and not performing that well. We need to make sure our schools are looking at the most efficient ways they can do things and put kids first and taxpayers second.
Bellwood-Antis Superintendent Brian Toth said some of the best performing schools in Pennsylvania are right here in the 30th District.
"Local schools have been performing well and are performing well in comparison to our colleagues around the state of Pennsylvania. Blair County school academic scores and accomplishments have ranked well when compared around the state," Toth said. "A little over two years ago, the Bellwood-Antis School District was commended by a joint Commission of the House and Senate for being one of 25 districts to be low spending and high achieving."