In this Update:
Wolf’s Budget is a Fantasy While Pennsylvanians Face a Hard Reality
In an address to the General Assembly this week, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion 2022-23 state budget that would increase General Fund spending by $4.5 billion.
The increases Gov. Wolf wants to enact would become the taxpayers’ problem for years to come. We do not have the liberty to create a fantasy budget, which is why I sponsored the Taxpayer Protection Act. It would ensure state budgets are managed responsibly by limiting the growth of state spending to a combined rate of inflation and population growth.
Gov. Wolf’s budget also calls for robbing money from the Horse Race Development Trust Fund which benefits more than just our local racing community. Nearly 90% of funds spent by horse owners and trainers are reinvested back into the local economy.
Despite this budget’s disregard of our fiscal realities, I am pleased that the proposal allocates $1.2 million to expand access to early intervention for infants by adding postpartum depression as an eligible tracking category. This is the essence of a measure – Senate Bill 200 – which I have sponsored and have been working to advance through the Legislature.
My colleagues in the General Assembly and I are committed to creating a realistic budget that fulfills our obligations while at the same time protecting the hardworking taxpayers of Pennsylvania.
Read my full reaction to the budget address here.
Legislation Boosting Aid to First Responders Set for Enactment
Building on a promise to provide Pennsylvania’s frontline heroes with relief, the Senate approved legislation to provide $25 million in federal funding to support EMS providers.
Since January, the General Assembly has advanced measures totaling $250 million for frontline workers, health care providers, emergency services and EMTs. The passage of Senate Bill 739 builds on the General Assembly’s recent efforts to distribute $225 million in federal relief funds for hospital and behavioral health providers to retain and recruit staff.
The measure also would ensure that all fire companies – whether volunteer, paid or combination department – are eligible for the low-interest loans through the Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Loan Program. Voters approved expanding the program in a 2021 ballot question.
Updated Agritourism Guide Available to Farmers
Agritourism activities – like corn mazes, hayrides, on-site dining/retail operations and educational programs – are a growing part of Pennsylvania’s agriculture economy.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has an updated 128-page handbook to help farmers navigate agritourism issues.
Last year, the General Assembly approved a new law to better protect farmers who offer these kinds of agritourism activities.
Grants Available to Reduce Underage and Dangerous Drinking
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is accepting applications for grants to fund programs that discourage and reduce underage and dangerous drinking and promote a message of responsible alcohol consumption by those of legal drinking age.
Eligible grant applicants include school districts and institutions of higher education (including technical, trade and post-secondary establishments), community organizations, municipal police departments, municipal officials/representatives and nonprofit and for-profit organizations.
The deadline to apply for grants is March 18. Applications and guidelines for submission are available on the PLCB website.
Monday is National Donor Day
Monday isn’t just Valentine’s Day, it’s also National Donor Day. Many health groups use this day to sponsor blood and marrow drives and organ/tissue sign-ups.
Organ donation saves lives and saves money, cutting health care costs by as much as two-thirds and saving Medicare millions of dollars every year.
The General Assembly passed the Living Donor Protection Act last year, prohibiting insurers from discriminating against an organ or tissue donor. It also ensures family and medical leave is provided for an eligible employee for the preparation and recovery necessary for donation surgery. In addition, it requires development of informational materials relating to living donors and the benefits of live organ and tissue donation.
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