Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate. It
covers votes by the full Senate and committee hearings, plus a look ahead.
The highlight of the week was Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address on Tuesday. I
outline my thoughts on the spending plan below.
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In this Edition:
Senate to Review Governor’s FY 2015-16 Budget
I am open to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Senate and
House to develop a responsible state budget that meets the needs of the
Commonwealth while making government live within its means. However, I was
disappointed to hear the Governor’s call to drastically increase taxes on
families and employers to pay for more government spending.
His initial proposal would raise taxes by $12 billion over the next two
fiscal years – about $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Pennsylvania. His
personal income tax increase alone would reduce the take home pay of the average
Pennsylvania family by more than $300.
Absent spending reforms, billions of dollars in new spending will not curb
our debt, rather, it will add to it. Parents will pay higher taxes today,
leaving children to pay the long-term debt tomorrow.
Of most concern to my constituents is the issue of school property tax
reform. I was pleased to hear the Governor speak of property tax relief, but I
am concerned about property tax relief being woven into an overall increase in
the state tax burden. My continued commitment is to ensure that my school
districts receive their fair share of education funding while furthering action
on the Property Tax Elimination Act, legislation of which I am a prime sponsor.
I intend to use my position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to work
for a responsible budget that does not further burden the working families of
the Commonwealth. We have many needs and challenges to address and I look
forward to working with my colleagues, the Administration, and all stakeholders
to ensure that Pennsylvania is an attractive place to live and work.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold
three-weeks of budget hearings beginning on March 16. You can watch the
Senate Acts to Create a Select Committee on
Purely Public Charities
The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I am sponsoring to establish a
select committee on “Purely Public Charities.”
Senate Resolution 28, the bipartisan panel will conduct statewide hearings
and work with non-profits, elected officials, tax experts, public safety
organizations and other stakeholders to determine whether additional legislation
is needed and make recommendations relating to legislation on the treatment of
purely public charities in Pennsylvania.
With Act 55 of 1997, the General Assembly used its constitutional power to
provide clear and uniform standards in statute to define which purely public
charitable institutions may claim a tax exemption. A 2012 state Supreme Court
decision struck down the provisions and reinstated standards established by the
courts as the means to determine the definition of a charity. The decision has
created uncertainty and the potential for increased litigation.
The Senate recently approved a proposed constitutional amendment to restore
the General Assembly’s power to determine whether an institution is a purely
We have nearly 100,000 nonprofits across the Commonwealth, providing critical
services to our communities, helping vulnerable populations in this Commonwealth
and reducing the burden of local governments with regard to administering
government functions for those populations. This makes it vital for the
legislature to talk about the many issues and meet with all stakeholders
involved to achieve the appropriate balance between the cost of services
provided by local governments and the protection of our local charities.
Scavello, American Legion to Offer Veterans
Assistance Days at Tannersville District Office
I have partnered with the American Legion to hold a Veterans Assistance Day
each month at our Tannersville district office.
Office hours to assist veterans will occur the third Tuesday of each month
from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2989 Route 611, Suite 103 Tannersville, PA 18372.
The next Veterans Assistance Day will be Tuesday, March 17.
Gina Svoboda, a Service Officer with the American Legion Pennsylvania
Department, will be on site to assist veterans with issues including:
compensation and pension claims, education benefits, enrollment in the VA health
care system, burial and survivor benefits, state benefits, and obtaining
military personnel and medical records.
Veterans do not need to be a member of the American Legion to receive these
services. Please contact the Tannersville office to schedule an appointment at
Bill Sets Penalties for False Claim of
The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday intended to protect the integrity of the
“veteran” driver’s license designation process.
Senate Bill 42 those who falsely claim to be a veteran on their Pennsylvania
driver’s license application would be subject to a summary offense with a $300
fine and possible imprisonment of between 30 and 90 days for those who fail to
pay the fine. A
state law enacted in 2012 allows veterans to self-certify their status
subject to verification by state military officials.
On Monday, the Senate approved
Senate Bill 130, a measure banning the practice of allowing persons
sentenced to community service to purchase gift cards in lieu of performing the
service. Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Committees Hold Hearing Highlighting
Natural Gas Impact Fee
Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the
Senate Local Government Committee held a joint public hearing on Tuesday to
discuss the benefits of the Act 13 Impact Fee on Pennsylvania communities.
The public hearing featured testimony from counties, townships, conservation
districts and economic development organizations throughout the state. Act 13 of
2012 imposed an unconventional gas well fee which has provided more than $630
million to local and county governments to compensate for impacts of the
industry, in addition to more than $2 billion companies have paid in state
here for video of the hearing and written testimony.
The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, April 13.
My colleagues and I on the Senate Appropriations Committee begin
three-weeks of budget hearings on the proposed 2015-16 state budget on
Monday, March 16. You can watch the hearings at
Senate Committee Schedule
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