In This Update:
Governor’s Budget Plan Features Massive Spending and Tax Increases
Governor Wolf unveiled a $40.2 billion spending plan for 2021-22 this week that includes more than $3 billion in new government spending – which would be the largest spending increase in the state’s history. The governor’s plan also includes an increase in the Personal Income Tax that would boost the amount of state tax taken out of every Pennsylvanian’s paycheck by 46 percent, as well as another new tax on natural gas that would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher energy bills.
The new taxes and spending are primarily to support education, workforce development and other programs. State lawmakers have made significant progress on all these issues in recent years, and I am confident we can support our schools, boost job training, expand internet service to underserved areas and meet the other needs of our communities without resorting to the massive new spending and taxes Governor Wolf is advocating.
My statement in reaction to the governor’s budget address is available here.
Secretary of State Resigns After Critical Error on Constitutional Amendment
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar announced this week that she would resign following news that she neglected to advertise a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would have allowed victims of child sex abuse to file civil lawsuits against their attackers, even if the statute of limitations had expired.
As a result of the department’s failure to perform the simple task of advertising this amendment, victims could now have to wait an additional two years to have their day in court. This is a completely unacceptable result for victims who have already endured so much, and lawmakers must investigate further to determine how the Wolf Administration botched this simple process so badly.
This embarrassing error is the latest in a string of questionable actions taken by Secretary Boockvar that have damaged our Commonwealth. I am hopeful that Governor Wolf will nominate a qualified, capable, and nonpartisan individual to lead the Department of State in the future.
My statement regarding the Wolf Administration’s sickening failure to protect child sex abuse victims is available here.
Telephone Town Hall Explores COVID-19 Vaccine Issues
Many community residents have contacted my office looking for information about the COVID-19 vaccine. I recently hosted a telephone town hall with local and statewide public health experts to help answer many of the questions my offices have been hearing on this critical issue.
If you missed this highly engaging and informative event, you can listen to the entire conversation here at your convenience.
Unfortunately, vaccine supplies are still extremely limited and only available to specific groups. The Department of Health’s expansion of the list of eligible recipients has put an even greater strain on supply. More information about eligibility and available locations for the vaccine are available here from the Department of Health.
Resources Available to Answer Unemployment Claimants’ Year-End Tax Questions
Unemployment claimants who have year-end tax questions can find answers through a new Frequently Asked Questions page developed by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity’s office. The page includes information on what claimants should do if they have not received their 1099G, how to dispute the amount reported on a 1099G form, and what Pennsylvanians should do if they receive a 1099G because they were a victim of fraud or identity theft, among other topics.
Information is also available on how state residents can report identity theft and fraud related to unemployment benefits, as well as how Treasury can provide evidence that fraud has taken place so victims of these crimes can resolve the issue. The Department of Labor and Industry also has its own FAQ page that covers questions about how to obtain forms, report fraudulent activity and more.
New Fraud Attempts Target Social Media Users
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is urging social media users to be on the lookout for fraud attempts involving fake Facebook pages and profiles. By creating fake pages and social media profiles posing as department employees, criminals can attempt to obtain the personal information of Pennsylvanians.
A few helpful reminders:
If you have a question pertaining to unemployment benefits, the contact information for the Department of Labor and Industry is:
2021 Trout Stocking Schedule Available Now
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently announced its 2021 trout stocking schedule for all Pennsylvania waterways. This year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans to stock approximately 3.2 million trout in 701 streams and 128 lakes open to public angling.
Trout season will officially open on April 3, following a single statewide Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day on March 27.
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