In this Update:
Senate Hearings on Proposed State Budget: Week Two
The Senate Appropriations Committee continued public hearings this week on the proposed 2022-23 state budget.
Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion budget that would increase spending by $4.5 billion. Based on projections, this will create a $1.3 billion deficit in the following fiscal year and produce a $13 billion deficit by 2026-27.
Among the highlights:
At the hearing for the Attorney General’s Office, committee members discussed concerns with state government’s cyber security infrastructure. Last year, a data breach involving a Department of Health contractor exposed tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians’ personal information to hackers. The hearing also covered the latest stats from the Safe2Say Something anonymous threat reporting system for schools, as well as Philadelphia’s skyrocketing homicide rate.
At the hearing for the Department of Community and Economic Development, members stressed the need to improve Pennsylvania’s economic standing, noting that the current Corporate Net Income Tax rate has prevented many businesses from relocating and investing in Pennsylvania.
You can find information on other budget hearings, hearing video, livestreams and more at PASenateGOP.com.
March 8th Virtual Town Hall – POSTPONED
My Virtual Town Hall that was scheduled for next week on March 8th has been postponed. When we have a new date scheduled it will be advertised in this newsletter and on my Facebook page.
Pennsylvania Acts to Support Ukraine
Pennsylvania has the second-largest population of Ukrainian Americans in the nation, with more than 122,000. Pennsylvania government is planning several responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in order to deny funds to Russia and show solidarity with Ukrainians.
Treasurer Stacy Garrity said the Treasury had started to divest its holdings in Russian-based companies. The Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System is gathering details about its exposure to Russian-related investments and could divest in a few weeks.
In addition, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is reviewing its inventory and is expected to stop selling vodka made in Russia.
To keep Russia in check in the long term, we must reassert America’s energy independence. Increasing domestic energy production and exports to European countries will go a long way toward reducing Russian influence and denying the regime the funds it needs to make war.
Assistance for Home Septic Repairs, Sewer Hook-ups
Low-interest loans are available to eligible Pennsylvania homeowners who need to repair or replace their on-lot septic system or connect to a public sewer.
The assistance can help homeowners avoid or respond to municipal citations and improve the environmental health of their property. Loan terms are up to 20 years (up to 15 years for manufactured homes). There is no prepayment penalty if the loan is paid off early. The maximum loan amount is $25,000.
The program is administered by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. You can find more information and terms here.
PA ABLE Helps Families Save for Disability-Related Expenses
In 2016, the General Assembly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and created PA ABLE accounts that give individuals with qualified disabilities, their families and friends a tax-free way to save for disability-related expenses, while maintaining government benefits.
Administered by the Pennsylvania Treasury, the accounts allow people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to save up to $100,000, without affecting eligibility for important government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. The withdrawals from the accounts for qualified expenses related to an individual’s disabilities are also considered exempt from federal and state taxes, and the accounts are not subject to Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax.
To learn more about how you might be able to save money with the program, the Pennsylvania Treasury is hosting free webinars, with the next one for individuals with disabilities, families and professionals scheduled for Tuesday, April 19 from 6-7 p.m.
Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption
Pennsylvania veterans with a financial need who served during a period of war and are 100% disabled could benefit from a state real estate tax exemption program.
An applicant whose gross annual income exceeds $95,279 will be considered to have a financial need for the exemption if allowable expenses exceed household income. You can find details about eligibility here.
Contact your local County Veterans Affairs Director to apply for this program.
Around the 40th District
Congratulations to Kyle Morris who recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout. At my office last week, I presented Kyle with a Senate citation in recognition of his outstanding achievement. For his service project, Kyle constructed four community blessing boxes for collecting food and clothing donations for the needy. Kyle is a member of Troop 74 Bushkill Township and the son of Scott and Julie Morris. (His dad was also an Eagle Scout.)
Kristine Bush, my Chief of Staff, recently presented a senate citation to Diane Lockard to congratulate her on her retirement. Diane devoted 50 years to LVHN-Pocono. She was born in Monroe County and began working at what was Pocono Medical Center in high school as a “candy striper.” Last week, she retired as the Health Unit Coordinator of the Mother/Baby Unit. Thank you, Diane, for your service to the community!
Great job by Pleasant Valley FBLA who recently held a blood drive with the American Red Cross. Right now, the Red Cross is experiencing its worst blood shortage in over a decade. These much-needed donations will help our local hospitals deliver timely care to patients. Best of luck to the group as they go to Hershey in April for the annual state competition!
Wishing a Happy Belated Birthday to Arlet Lunn who turned 100 years old on Saturday! She is a proud mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She is a soft-spoken woman who is loved by her family and by the staff at Brookmont where she resides. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARLET!
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