February 12, 2020
In This Edition:
New Spending and Taxes in Wolf’s Latest Budget Plan Raise Concerns
Governor Wolf presented his 2020-21 budget plan to the General Assembly last week. I have serious concerns about the new spending, borrowing, taxes and school safety cuts that have been proposed by the governor.
The budget includes $1.5 billion in new spending and more than a billion dollars in new borrowing, creating a spending plan that is completely unsustainable without future tax hikes. The plan would also add a new severance tax on natural gas extraction that would devastate one of our most important local industries and eliminate the jobs of many of our friends and neighbors here in southwest Pennsylvania.
Additionally, the budget would cut funding for school safety, while at the same time creating new advisory bodies focused on attacking the Second Amendment.
All of these misguided ideas will need to be addressed as we begin our review of the budget in the weeks ahead. My full statement about the governor’s budget address is available here.
Budget Hearings Kick Off February 18
Starting next week, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a series of hearings to examine the 2020-21 budget proposed by Governor Wolf. The hearings, which are scheduled to run from February 18 through March 5, will allow lawmakers to question members of the Wolf Administration regarding the operation, cost and performance of state programs and services, as well as the potential impact of the governor’s new spending and tax proposals.
Full coverage of the hearings, including photos, video and testimony, will be available online at www.pasenategop.com.
I appreciated the warm welcome during my tour of Ringgold Elementary School South this week. It was great to meet with the teachers, administrators and students to learn more about how our local schools are working to educate the leaders of tomorrow, including the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) program. My thanks goes out to Dr. Megan Marie Van Fossan, Dr. Kelly Sherbondy and Assistant Principal Ashli Gilbert for the tour!
What Is the Most Important Issue Facing PA? Take My New Poll
Lawmakers in Pennsylvania face a multitude of challenges on many different issues. In my new poll, I am asking community residents what they believe is the most important issue for the Pennsylvania legislature to address immediately.
I encourage you to share your thoughts on this question, and thank you in advance for your participation! The poll question is available here.
The Pennsylvania State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO), an association of more than seventy agricultural and food industry groups, held its annual Taste of Pennsylvania Cornucopia Reception in Harrisburg. I was blessed to see a great group of my FFA student friends and the PA State Diary Princess as well!
Legislative Update: Fire/EMS Worker’s Comp Bill Advances
In addition to reviewing Governor Wolf’s budget address, lawmakers approved several bills of note last week, including a measure to ensure critical members of volunteer fire companies, ambulance corps and rescue squads who are injured in the line of duty would qualify for workers’ compensation coverage.
Legislative highlights from last week include:
Thank you to Canon-McMillan School District South Central Elementary and Principal Michelle Tomicek for inviting me to read to your third grade and kindergarten classrooms.
Property Tax Rent Rebate Forms Available in my District Offices
Applications for the state’s Property Tax Rent Rebate program are available now at my offices in Washington, Waynesburg and Monongahela. The program provides rebates of up to $650 on property taxes or rent paid in 2019.
To be eligible, applicants must meet income requirements and be a Pennsylvania resident age 65 and older; a widow or widower age 50 or older; or a permanently disabled individual age 18 or older.
The program is available to homeowners with a household income of $35,000 or less and renters with a household income of $15,000 or less, excluding one-half of Social Security Income and Railroad Retirement Tier 1 benefits. Rebate amounts vary based on income.
I encourage you to contact me if you have questions about the program or need assistance in obtaining or completing an application.
I was pleased to join my friend Representative Pam Snyder at the ribbon cutting of her new downtown Waynesburg office. Also, a special thanks to the Greene County Chamber of Commerce for organizing this wonderful event.
2020 Trout Stocking Schedule Available Now
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently announced its 2020 trout stocking schedule for all Pennsylvania waterways. This year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans to stock approximately 3.2 million trout in 707 streams and 130 lakes open to public angling.
You can search the 2020 trout stocking schedule by county and date here.