|Good Budget News for Taxpayers
On Tuesday, I joined a bipartisan majority of my House colleagues in passing the 2019-20 state budget proposal. The $33.99 billion spending plan increases education funding to historic levels while keeping spending growth in line with the rate of inflation and without raising taxes or fees for hard-working Pennsylvania residents and seniors.
The work we’ve done in recent years to control spending and hold the line on taxes has contributed to Pennsylvania’s improving economy. That trend continues with this budget proposal, which adequately funds our priorities without placing a heavier burden on taxpayers.
Because of our fiscal restraint, we are able to deposit about $300 million into the Rainy Day Fund, adding to last year’s $22 million payment, which was the first installment in more than a decade.
The proposal sets a new high of $12.8 billion for preK-12 education. There is an additional $160 million included for basic education, $50 million more for special education and a $25 million increase for early childhood education. There was also $25 million added to a program that allows for school choice. In addition, we’ve included $60 million to continue funding safety grants for school districts statewide.
This budget frees up tens of millions of dollars for highway and bridge projects by reducing the amount of funding to be shifted from PennDOT’s Motor License Fund to the state police, which will receive an additional $97 million from the General Fund and nearly $10 million for three new classes of cadets.
Agriculture Programs Get Budget Boost
Programs that benefit Pennsylvania’s top industry – agriculture – received a 13% funding increase in the 2019-20 budget. Recognizing the importance of animal health, new line items devote $2 million to the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission and $1 million to livestock and consumer health protection. The spending plan also restores funding for programs eliminated by the governor’s proposal, including agricultural research; agricultural promotion, education and exports; hardwoods research and promotion; and the livestock and open dairy shows.
In addition, a comprehensive package of bills to help the agriculture industry grow and thrive are awaiting the governor’s signature. The initiatives aim to protect the Commonwealth’s food supply and animal health, and combat threats to both crops and livestock; assist farmers with the cost and expertise to further implement best management practices on their farms; support the dairy industry; educate young people about the importance of agriculture; and prepare the next generation of farmers. Learn more here.
The Department of Revenue is warning Pennsylvania seniors and people with disabilities of a scam involving the popular Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.
The scam consists of unsolicited telephone calls from a person claiming to work for the Department of Revenue. The caller starts the call by saying the recipient’s application for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been approved. The caller then asks if the recipient would like the rebate directly deposited into a bank account, which prompts a request from the caller for the recipient's banking information.
The Department of Revenue DOES NOT make unsolicited calls requesting banking information and warns consumers to always be extremely cautious when they receive unsolicited phone calls. Learn more about the scam here.
Congratulations, Eagle Scouts!
Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending the Court of Honor Ceremony for Daniel Saviet of Effort, where I presented him with a House citation in recognition of his outstanding achievement. For his Eagle Scout project, Daniel built a utility shed for the Garden of Giving in Saylorsburg.
On Tuesday, our office attended the Court of Honor Ceremony for Leonard Katchmaric of Troop 98 at West End Regional Park in Saylorsburg. For his Eagle Scout Project, Lenny made numerous improvements to the park, including the construction of benches, bird houses and a dog ramp.
Fish for Free on Independence Day
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is hosting the second of its two annual Fish for Free Days on Independence Day, Thursday, July 4.
This is a great opportunity to try your hand at fishing in any of Pennsylvania’s waterways, even if you don’t have a license.
Both residents and non-residents are eligible. Just make sure you follow all other fishing regulations.
For your convenience, there are even opportunities to borrow equipment from certain sites at state parks and other locations. You can find those locations by clicking here.
Independence Day Reminders
A few important reminders as you plan to celebrate our nation’s independence next week!
If you’re traveling, check out 511pa.com. Free and available 24 hours a day, the site provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 950 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
PennDOT will also close its driver license service centers on Thursday, July 4. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services at dmv.pa.gov.
Please note that my district offices will also be closed for the holiday. Have a safe and happy July Fourth!