In this Update:
Senate Set to Question Wolf Administration on Spending Plan
On Feb. 8, Gov. Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion state budget for 2022-23 that would increase spending by $4.5 billion, create a $1.3 billion deficit in the following year and produce a $13 billion deficit by 2026-27.
Next week, the Senate Appropriations Committee kicks off four weeks of public hearings to review the spending plan and question administration officials in preparation for developing a more responsible budget prior to the June 30 constitutional deadline.
You can find livestreams of the hearings, video of previous hearings and daily recaps here. I’ll report back each week with updates on this important process.
Thank You for Talking with Me About State Issues
Last week, residents from throughout the 46th Legislative District joined me for a telephone town hall meeting. We discussed workforce development, jobs and issues impacting seniors.
Special thanks to our panelists, including Ami Gatts, director of the Southwest Corner Workforce Development Board; Leslie Grenfell, executive director for the Southwestern PA Area Agency on Aging, Inc.; and Jeff Kotula, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.
I appreciated the opportunity to discuss issues that are significant to my constituents and hear their thoughts on important issues. Thank you to everyone who made the call a success.
If you missed the call but would like to participate in the future, please register online.
Continuing to Impact Our Region Through Innovation
This week, I had a chance to meet with part of the leadership team at Guttman Energy, located in the heart of the Mon Valley. This is a wonderful family-owned business that is always working to create solutions and opportunities for the region and commonwealth. During the meeting, I was briefed on the objectives, design, and details of a new project that will be environmentally beneficial.
Pictured from left: Mark Harper, James Guttman, Amy Bitz and Adam Dunlap.
PIAA Rifle Team State Championships
I stopped by the Dormont Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen’s Club in Canonsburg during the western portion of the PIAA Rifle Team State Championships. I ran into the WPIAL Section 2 Champs Trinity Area School District Rifle Team just as they fired their final rounds in the indoor range. We all wish them the best of luck as the results are scanned in from across the state during the next few weeks.
I also wanted to recognize Riley Dunn of McGuffey High School as she took first place in the WPIAL Rifle Individual Championships and received the Taylor-Eddy Award, which is presented by the Dormont Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen’s Club. Of course, I would also like to thank Ted Hildabrand and all the sportsmen’s club members and volunteers who helped host the championships in the last few weeks!
I am pictured with the Trinity Rifle Team.
Help for Families Navigating the College Aid Process
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is offering several free webinars in February, March and April to help students and families plan for college and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
FAFSA Overview (Feb. 28, April 18)
Financial Aid 101 (March 7, March 28)
Financial Aid Junior Jumpstart (April 13)
Click here for times and registration.
New Helpline Available for Farmers Seeking Mental Health Services
Pennsylvania farmers and farm families seeking mental health support can now access a free helpline for assistance.
The AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Farmers can call 833-897-AGRI (2474) to speak to a health care professional.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, financial challenges, farm or business problems and the fear of losing the farm are top contributors to farmers’ mental health challenges. Cost, embarrassment and stigma often prevent farmers from seeking help or treatment for a mental health condition. The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee explored the topic in several public forums in recent years.
Halting the Rise in Pennsylvania Traffic Fatalities
In Pennsylvania, 2021 preliminary data shows deaths on our roadways increased by as much as 10%, including increases in fatalities in speeding crashes, distracted driving crashes, crashes involving teen drivers, as well as unrestrained fatalities.
Pennsylvania Highway Safety Law Awareness Week is next week, Feb. 20-26, and it’s an opportunity to think about the laws and driving habits that increase traffic safety.
Highway safety laws that can prevent traffic fatalities include:
You can read more about highway safety at www.PennDOT.gov/safety.