News from across the Commonwealth
Pennsylvania’s rural counties have lower cost of living
The cost of living in rural Pennsylvania counties is lower than the cost of living in urban counties, according to a recent study done by researchers at Penn State Erie-The Behrend College for the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.
Overall, the study shows the Commonwealth’s rural counties have a lower cost of living than urban counties in five of the six categories reviewed: groceries, housing, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services. The final category reviewed was utilities.
The overall cost of living tended to be highest among Pennsylvania counties in the southeastern and southwestern parts of the state, with housing costs being the key category driving the overall higher cost of living.
When comparing Pennsylvania’s cost of living to other states, the study found that, on a population-weighted basis (to account for the larger number of people living in higher-cost urban areas), Pennsylvanians pay about
10.7 percent more overall, on average, than other Americans. Housing was the key category here as well, with Pennsylvanians paying 26.8 percent more, on average, for housing than other U.S. residents.
State budget prioritizes investments in agriculture industry
Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, a member of Gettysburg-based Adams Electric Cooperative, reports the 2018-19 fiscal year budget recently signed by Gov. Tom Wolf addresses some of the most pressing challenges facing the Commonwealth’s agriculture industry.
“From protecting our land and products from invasive pests and ensuring consumer safety to preparing students and workers for careers in agriculture and putting food on tables across the state, agriculture touches us all,” Redding said. “The funding provided in the 2018-19 budget reflects a commitment to preserving, protecting, and advancing agriculture in the Commonwealth.”
Specifically, $3 million is dedicated toward combating the spread of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that has now spread to 13 southeastern Pennsylvania counties and threatens to destroy $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities produced in the state. The funding will allow the department to increase detection and control efforts, and coordinate multi-agency response, outreach, and training.
In addition, $5 million was approved to help struggling dairy farms through research and development, organic transition, value-added processing, and marketing grants to support dairy producers working to maintain the viability of their operations.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s programs and services, or to read the state’s Agriculture Economic Impact Study, visit the department’s website at www.agriculture.pa.gov.
Hunting, trapping guide available online
Hunters and trappers who purchase licenses receive a pocket guide that summarizes hunting and trapping seasons, bag limits, hunting hours and other basic requirements. However, the 2018-19 pocket guide is also now available online on the 2018-19 Hunting and Trapping Digest homepage, which can be accessed under Quick Clicks at www.pgc.pa.gov and printed on 8 1/2-by-14-inch legal paper.
The guides are also available at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s headquarters and regional offices. The 2018-19 license year began July 1.
State adds to ‘Opioid Data Dashboard’
Pennsylvania’s multi-agency Opioid Command Center has announced the addition of information to the state’s “Opioid Data Dashboard,” increasing information for public access.
“As the Opioid Data Dashboard grows to include more information, we are moving toward a more complete picture of the impact the disease of opioid-use disorder has on our communities,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “With this information in hand, communities can work at the grassroots level to help prevent the disease, rescue those who are in immediate need and get their loved ones into treatment. Treatment works and recovery is possible.”
The Opioid Data Dashboard focuses on data sets in the three main areas mentioned by Gov. Tom Wolf in his January statewide disaster declaration for the opioid epidemic: prevention, rescue and treatment. It also shows data at the county level.