In this Update:
Senate Set to Question Wolf Administration on Spending Plan
On Feb. 8, Gov. Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion state budget for 2022-23 that would increase spending by $4.5 billion, create a $1.3 billion deficit in the following year and produce a $13 billion deficit by 2026-27.
Next week, the Senate Appropriations Committee kicks off four weeks of public hearings to review the spending plan and question administration officials in preparation for developing a more responsible budget prior to the June 30 constitutional deadline.
You can find livestreams of the hearings, video of previous hearings and daily recaps here. I’ll report back each week with updates on this important process.
PA 33 North Closure Beginning Friday Night
PA 33 north will be closed for repairs to a depression in the roadway. Traffic will be required to exit onto US 22 east and then detour on 25th Street and US 22 west back to PA 33 north. Expect significant delays and please use caution driving through the area. The detour is estimated to last 24 hours. A map of the detour can be seen on my Facebook page.
Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1000 traffic cameras.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
Keeping Track of Non-Budgeted State Tax Dollars
While the process of passing a responsible state budget gets underway, a new resource is available highlighting state spending that occurs after the budget is enacted.
A webpage recently launched by state Treasurer Stacy Garrity explains Ledger 5, which is used to account for non-budgeted expenditures incurred during a fiscal year that are legally mandated or necessary to maintain public health, safety or welfare.
Before Ledger 5 can be used, the Governor’s Office of the Budget must provide Treasury with documentation, known as an Expenditure Symbol Notification (ESN) memo, to explain and justify the expenditure. Treasury reviews the ESN memo and other expenditure documentation to ensure the payment is legal and correct. All ESN memos will be posted on the new webpage.
Recognizing National Future Business Leaders of America Week
I recently introduced Senate Resolution 221 of 2022 which formally recognizes February 13-19, 2022 as “National Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) Week” in Pennsylvania.
FBLA is an organization dedicated to bringing business and education together in a positive working relationship and assists students in the transition from school to work. FBLA programs are prevalent throughout many of our school districts in Pennsylvania and strive to develop students in business and leadership skills, and community involvement that will enhance their daily lives in the future.
Pennsylvania FBLA has grown to encompass approximately 13,000 members statewide and over 200,000 members and advisors nationwide. I’m happy to show my support of this important organization and recognize the skills they aim to provide our students at the middle school, high school, and college level.
Help for Families Navigating the College Aid Process
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is offering several free webinars in February, March and April to help students and families plan for college and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
FAFSA Overview (Feb. 28, April 18)
Financial Aid 101 (March 7, March 28)
Financial Aid Junior Jumpstart (April 13)
Click here for times and registration.
New Helpline Available for Farmers Seeking Mental Health Services
Pennsylvania farmers and farm families seeking mental health support can now access a free helpline for assistance.
The AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Farmers can call 833-897-AGRI (2474) to speak to a health care professional.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, financial challenges, farm or business problems and the fear of losing the farm are top contributors to farmers’ mental health challenges. Cost, embarrassment and stigma often prevent farmers from seeking help or treatment for a mental health condition. The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee explored the topic in several public forums in recent years.
Halting the Rise in Pennsylvania Traffic Fatalities
In Pennsylvania, 2021 preliminary data shows deaths on our roadways increased by as much as 10%, including increases in fatalities in speeding crashes, distracted driving crashes, crashes involving teen drivers, as well as unrestrained fatalities.
Pennsylvania Highway Safety Law Awareness Week is next week, Feb. 20-26, and it’s an opportunity to think about the laws and driving habits that increase traffic safety.
Highway safety laws that can prevent traffic fatalities include:
You can read more about highway safety at www.PennDOT.gov/safety.
Around the 40th District
Last week at Stroudsburg High School I presented Paris Briegel with a senate citation in honor of her capturing the 2021 PIAA District XI Class AAA Girls’ Singles Tennis Championship. Paris is a senior and won her third consecutive district title. Congratulations Paris!
This morning I took part in a Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA) “Show Them What it Takes Student Forum.” During the virtual session I had the opportunity to speak to with students from Pleasant Valley, Nazareth Area, Wilson Area, Liberty, Freedom, and Pen Argyl High Schools. I always love speaking to students, they always ask great questions. During the session we spoke about school property taxes, the Governor’s budget proposal, Covid’s effects on education, and Charter School education.
Yesterday my wife and I had a terrific dinner at the Cinder Inn in East Stroudsburg. While I was there I was approached by Kevin Ball, a constituent, who was also there. I truly enjoyed our conversation. Thank you Kevin, it was great to meet you.
Monday we visited Little Buddies Child Care in Nazareth to present certificates in recognition of several milestone anniversaries for their staff. Catherine Passaro, Nancy Laslo, and Dyana Felix are marking thirtieth, twenty-seventh and twenty-sixth year anniversaries respectively. All three educators have degrees in the early care and education field. Catherine also holds a director’s credential, while Nancy has her bachelor’s degree from Penn State and Dyana a master’s from Wilkes University. Thanks to these dedicated educators for helping kids in our community!
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