In this Update:
Massive Spending Increase in Shapiro’s Budget Creates Concern
This week, Gov. Josh Shapiro shared his proposed 2024-25 state budget, which includes an excessive $3.2 billion increase – a jump of 7.1% – in state spending.
In addition to making it extremely difficult to balance future budgets, the governor’s spending plan would completely eliminate the state’s current and future budgetary reserves in the next five years – reserves meant to protect taxpayers during times of economic downturn. Unrealistic spending and revenue projections mean the governor’s budget plan will likely require deep spending cuts and painful broad-based tax increases on Pennsylvanians.
Shapiro’s budget approach, which would likely result in higher inflation when families are already struggling, runs in opposition to the cautious and responsible budgets Senate Republicans have fought to enact. In the next several months, Senate Republicans will examine Shapiro’s budget proposal and search for greater efficiencies. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin its series of budget hearings to study the budget proposal on Feb. 20.
Read more about Gov. Shapiro’s proposed budget, my reaction to it, and what that means for you here.
Senate Passes Measure Supporting a More Secure Southern Border
As the unprecedented rise in illegal immigration strains the resources of states throughout the nation, the Senate approved a measure calling for action to address the border crisis and support the rights of states to protect their citizens.
Senate Resolution 234 voices support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s actions to secure the border amid federal inaction by the Biden Administration. It also encourages Gov. Josh Shapiro to join dozens of other governors from across the country who have announced their support of Abbott. The Biden Administration continues to fight Abbott’s lawful exercise of his Constitutional authority to defend his state and its citizens.
According to the U.S. Center for Immigration Services, the country’s illegal immigrant population grew to 12.8 million by October 2023. It rose 2.6 million since January 2021, when President Joe Biden took office and used executive orders to move financial resources away from the border, suspend deportations and end the successful “Remain in Mexico” policy.
Read more about Pennsylvania Senate Republican action on securing our nation’s border here.
Senate Hearing on Office of Administration Data Loss
This week, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee and Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing to on the recent Shapiro Office of Administration (OA) server data loss.
According to the OA, human error from an employee performing server maintenance on Jan. 3 resulted in data loss affecting several agencies. Additional information requested at the hearing will be reviewed once received by the committees. Video of the hearing can be found here.
2023 Accomplishments: Cutting Red Tape
As 2024 kicks off, Senate Republicans will continue our work to cut red tape and improve the experience citizens have when they interact with their government and the agencies intended to help them.
Already this session, we have passed a bill that would improve government efficiency by authorizing the Pennsylvania Treasury Department to return unclaimed property without requiring the owners to search for it. Another legislative measure would ensure Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Medical Assistance benefits are not spent on the deceased.
For the Pennsylvanians who must apply for a permit, license, or certification, another bill would require state agencies to create an accessible website to explain why a permit application was rejected and enable permit applicants to check their application status. It would also deem a permit, license, or certification approved if the agency reviewing the application misses its deadline – giving Pennsylvanians far more predictability than they currently have. This change would also help to attract more business to the state and boost our economy by addressing unreasonable permit delays.
Best Wishes to Retiring Police Sergeant
Congratulations to Sgt. John Donnelly upon his retirement from the Manheim Township Police Department after nearly 30 years of dedicated service!
Sgt. Donnelly was originally hired by the department in 1994 to work at the front desk and began serving as a police officer a couple years later. He was promoted to Officer in Charge in 2013 and accepted his retiring rank in 2018. Sgt. Donnelly earned numerous awards throughout his career and also served our country with honor as a member of the United States Army.
We thank him for his service to the Manheim community and his dedication to keeping its residents safe.
Property Tax Relief is Available for Homeowners
Most homes and farms are eligible for property tax reduction under the Homestead Tax Exemption program.
Under a homestead or farmstead property tax exclusion, the assessed value of each homestead or farmstead is reduced by the same amount before the property tax is computed.
To receive school property tax relief for tax years beginning July 1 or Jan. 1, an application for homestead or farmstead exclusions must be filed by the preceding March 1. School districts are required to notify homeowners by Dec. 31 of each year if their property is not approved for the homestead or farmstead exclusion or if their approval is due to expire. Learn more and find an application.
Happy 105th Birthday to Local Resident
Happy 105th birthday to Margaret Eckman, who was born in Leacock Township. Ms. Eckman was a homemaker for many years and later worked for approximately 12 years at the Good ‘N Plenty restaurant in East Lampeter Township. She taught Sunday Circle at the Hershey Mennonite Church and enjoys cooking, reading, and playing bingo.
Ms. Eckman was the beloved wife of George Eckman for 57 years prior to his passing and is the proud mother of six children. She has been blessed with 13 grandchildren.
Honoring Abraham Lincoln’s Contributions to Our Country
This week, I was honored to recognize Lincoln Day, which falls on Monday, Feb. 12. This year will mark the 215th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.
As we remember his life and legacy – and thank God that he lived – we should also remember the challenges he faced. By glossing over the tragedy he experienced and deep sadness he felt as a result, we discount his remarkable resilience, strength, and determination.
Despite being born into deep poverty, losing loved ones starting at a young age, and possessing very little formal education, he always tried to do what was right – even when it was incredibly unpopular and came at a great political and personal cost to do so. May it be so with all of us.
Watch my full tribute to Abraham Lincoln in the above video or online here.
Protecting Against Hypothermia and Frostbite
While this winter has been relatively mild so far, colder weather could set in at any time. Brushing up on the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite can help you keep yourself and others safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers detailed information about warning signs and prevention.
Signs of hypothermia include shivering, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and confusion. In severe cases, hypothermia can lead to death. If someone is experiencing hypothermia, give them warm water and replace any wet clothing with dry layers. Seek medical attention if their body temperature is below 95 degrees.
Frostbite is an injury that can permanently damage the body and typically impacts the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes. Symptoms include painful, unusually firm or waxy skin. If impacted, warm the affected area but do not apply pressure. Stay a safe distance from heat sources and know when to get medical care.
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