By Rep. Anita Kulik
As divided as we have been the past two years over COVID-19, politics, and so many other issues, it is consoling to see everyone in our area coming together in support of the people in Ukraine.
The municipalities in our district have large Ukrainian populations, whether first, second, or third generation. We are blessed to share that country’s traditions here in our area. I consider us lucky just getting to experience the delicious Ukrainian foods that come out of local homes and churches, even in McKees Rocks and Carnegie alone!
The influence of our Ukrainian population in our area is tremendous. The community involvement from the churches and clubs continues to be a boost to our local communities. If you grew up in our area, we all know that some of the best food, festivals and services come from the many Ukrainian churches and groups that we are blessed to have close by.
In the past several weeks, our churches and community groups – no matter what denomination or service – have joined together in prayer and solidarity. If you know Carnegie, you know that one of the Ukrainian churches is situated next to a Russian church. It is heartening to see that the Russian congregation is standing with its neighboring Ukrainian congregation. In this area, we stand as one.
The tragic and inhumane suffering of the people in Ukraine forces us to stop and reflect. Our strength has always been our ability to come together in times like these, and I have witnessed an enormous amount of concern and generosity from the people in our district.
I had the opportunity to message with a priest from Carnegie while he was in Ukraine seeking to get twenty-some orphans out of the country. I have also stayed in contact with some of the local church leaders who have family in Ukraine and are organizing aid efforts for those still in Ukraine or for the refugees. Their resolve to help is remarkable as is that of all those in our communities who have pledged their time and money to help.
Most of what can be done to address the war in Ukraine will come on the federal level. I know that our local congress members and senators are working along with their colleagues from around the country on resolutions.
On the state level, I continue to work with my colleagues on measures to show support and provide aid. Stopping the purchase of certain products, and preparing for the time when Pennsylvania will be welcoming Ukrainian refugees, can be and should be state and local matters that require our immediate attention. These refugees will require assistance in many areas, including education for the children. This will impact our local schools, and it is incumbent upon us, at the state level, to make sure that we are not creating additional burdens on districts that have financial struggles.
As we stand against this unjust and unprovoked war, we find ourselves dealing with tough economic consequences. A volatile stock market, inflation and soaring gas prices are consequences of the war. The state legislature is looking into ways to alleviate some economic strains. I have joined several of my colleagues in advocating for the temporary suspension of the state’s gasoline tax. I have also met with various leaders as we focus on our state’s energy production capabilities. These are all matters that we need to address promptly.
It is in times such as these that working together is a must. While we will always have disagreements on various issues, we must work together in times of crisis. There can be no doubt that the unjustified actions of a tyrant have created many problems that we all must work, together, to overcome.
On a final note, I am encouraged that so many of us are working together to try to stop the planned tolling of Interstate-79 in the Bridgeville area. The concerns are many, not the least of which is that the timing of this proposal could not be worse. It is going to place a huge burden on those who travel on the interstate, and a huge burden on the businesses and communities that will see substantial traffic delays as people take alternate routes to avoid the interstate. To me, common sense must prevail, and I continue to work alongside efforts to prevent this unnecessary toll.