Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 36th Senatorial District and look forward to working with you toward building a stronger Pennsylvania. This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Lancaster County and what I am doing as your State Senator in Harrisburg – I hope that you find it helpful! Should you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please DO NOT reply to this email; instead, please feel free to contact me here.
In this Update:
Giving Students the Tools to Succeed
The passage of the 2023-24 state budget reflects important Senate Republican priorities, including helping students by dedicating an additional $567 million to Basic Education and an additional $150 million for education tax credits to provide scholarships to students so they can learn in an education environment that best suits their needs.
We also ensured greater collaboration in keeping children safe in the classroom by consolidating school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The commission already manages the highly successful School Safety and Security Grant Program created by the Senate in 2018.
As mental health needs continue to rise, we allocated $100 million for K-12 mental health programs for schools so children have the basic foundation to succeed educationally.
Reducing the Tax Burden
As part of the state budget, Senate Republicans voted to reduce the tax burden. One initiative would address a barrier to employment for working families by giving parents additional support to continue to seek and maintain employment.
The legislation also exempts Dependent Care Assistance and Flexible Savings Accounts, which are used to cover health care expenses, from the state Personal Income Tax. They were already exempt from federal taxes.
Finally, it helps counties and municipalities avoid raising taxes on their residents. It increases the payment made for state-owned property dedicated to outdoor recreation to $2.40 per acre to be paid from the State Gaming Fund. Previously, open spaces for the public’s enjoyment were more of a financial burden because they aren’t owned by businesses or individuals.
Funding Pediatric Cancer Research
One of the worst things parents can imagine is their children facing serious health challenges, particularly cancer. It’s a devastating circumstance no child should ever experience. Yet, pediatric cancer research receives just a fraction of the federal government’s annual cancer research budget, with the majority going to adult cancer research.
We all want children to beat their disease so they can go back to being kids, so my Senate colleagues and I dedicated $9.5 million of state funding in this year’s budget to pediatric cancer research. They deserve cures and less toxic treatments with fewer side effects, and being dedicated to research will help to achieve those goals.
Working toward these advancements to transform pediatric cancer care underscores the Senate Republican priority of healthy and safe communities.
Helping Pennsylvanians at the Pump
After automatically rising last year due to inflation, the 2024 Pennsylvania gas tax will return to 2022 levels.
Last year, the average wholesale price of gasoline exceeded $2.99 per gallon, which triggered an automatic increase in the gas tax. Knowing how Pennsylvanians were already struggling with skyrocketing inflation, the Senate passed and sent to the House of Representatives legislation last January to end these inflation-based, automatic gas tax hikes.
The House did not act in a timely fashion to consider this legislation, costing Pennsylvanians more than $200 million in the gas tax in 2023.
Nonetheless, I am pleased that the 2024 Pennsylvania gas tax will return to 2022 levels, helping all residents save money at the pump this year.
Recognizing Decades of Service to Our Communities
Congratulations to Gerald Cole on his retirement last month from the Mount Joy Township Board of Supervisors after 30 years of dedicated service! A member of the board since 1993, Mr. Cole also served on the Greater Elizabethtown Area Recreation & Community Services Board, the Northwest Regional Police Commission, and the Planning Commission during his tenure. Best wishes to Gerald on his well-deserved retirement!
Congrats to Fire Chief Tony Groff upon his retirement after 38 years of dedicated and distinguished service to the Martindale Fire Company! In addition to being chief for the past 26 years, Mr. Groff has also served as assistant chief, deputy chief, assistant engineer, chief engineer, and vice president over his career. Best wishes in your retirement and thank you for your service!
Congratulations to Jim Summers upon his retirement this month as executive director of the Ephrata Recreation Center after more than 50 years of dedicated service! Mr. Summers began his career with the Ephrata Recreation Center in June 1973 as a part-time locker room attendant at the community pool and worked his way up to executive director. Best wishes on your retirement!
Local Coach Named Coach of the Year
Congratulations to Head Coach of the Warwick High School Boys’ Soccer Team, Matt Wagner, for being recognized as the 2023 Class 4A Boys’ Soccer Coach of the Year by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association! Since joining the Warriors five years ago, Coach Wagner has amassed a record of 66 wins, 26 losses, and six ties, and his team has qualified for the state championships three times. Well done, Warwick!
For more photos from my visit to Warwick, check out my Instagram page here.
Officiating Opportunities Available Throughout PA
If you would like to help your community more this year, there are lots of opportunities to make a huge difference in the lives of student-athletes.
There’s a shortage of referees, umpires and other high school officials in almost every sport. High school officials protect the integrity of the games our kids love to play by demonstrating qualities like honesty, objectivity, consistency and courage.
Hours are flexible, and it’s a great way to stay in good physical condition. Find out how to become an official.
Recognizing Law Enforcement in Our Communities
Tuesday, Jan. 9, is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Protecting our communities is a dangerous and demanding job, but men and women across the state answered the call to public service. They leave their families not knowing if they’ll need to give their lives to keep us safe.
I appreciate their selflessness and commitment to others and was proud to vote for legislation to help them.
Act 60 of 2023 expands the list of law enforcement entities covered under the Heart and Lung Act, which provides for salary and medical expenses to be paid when an officer or firefighter is injured on the job. Other new laws passed by the Senate allow municipal police to conduct fingerprint-based criminal history checks on police applicants and funds an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer.
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