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:
Working to Ensure Our Police Departments Remain Strong
I recently met with Elizabethtown Borough Police Department Chief Edward Cunningham to discuss issues related to recruiting, retaining, and training police officers. As always, I am grateful for our law enforcement members in Lancaster County and remain supportive of their efforts to protect our communities.
Senate Hearings on Proposed State Budget Get Underway
The Senate Appropriations Committee held the first of four weeks of public hearings on the proposed 2022-23 state budget.
Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion budget that would increase spending by $4.5 billion. Based on projections, this will create a $1.3 billion deficit in the following fiscal year and produce a $13 billion deficit by FY 2026-27.
The administration’s proposed massive spending increase relies on rosy revenue projections not supported by the Independent Fiscal Office. IFO Director Matthew Knittel testified that revenue projections could be revised downward depending on various factors including the end of the stimulus funding and actions at the federal level.
State Treasurer Stacy Garrity said Treasury sees the potential for sizable deficits in future years that would require tax hikes, new taxes or spending cuts to erase the deficits. She testified the governor’s budget proposal contains wildly low projected spending, particularly in human services, while it builds in unrealistic revenue assumptions.
You can find the hearings schedule, livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at PASenateGOP.com.
Providing Critical Financial Relief to PA’s Struggling Small Businesses
Having heard from many small business owners about the lingering issues they face because of Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 business closures and the difficulty in finding people who are willing to work, I sponsored the Small Business Assistance Package. It is a group of five bills aimed at providing both immediate and long-term relief to the Commonwealth’s struggling bars, restaurants, and small businesses.
One of the bills in the package, Senate Bill 984, would create a temporary business improvement tax credit program that would give thriving businesses the opportunity to donate to struggling small businesses. In return, that employer would receive a tax credit worth 50% of the donation from their state taxes.
The bills in the package are part of a larger effort I’ve made to prioritize PA small businesses. Read more here about the initiative.
Please Fill Out My Abortion Survey Before Feb. 28
This is the last chance to fill out my February survey question on abortion and abortion funding. I encourage you to share your thoughts soon as the survey will be closed on the morning of February 28th.
Celebrating the Value Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology Offers Students
It was good to be back on the campus of Thaddeus Stevens. I appreciated the opportunity to tour campus and speak with students and instructors. For more than 115 years, Thaddeus Stevens has been adding value to the lives of students so that they will find skilled employment, be effective citizens, and reach their full potential.
Additional 100,000 Older Adults Eligible for Prescription Assistance
Legislation approved by the General Assembly in December expanding income eligibility limits for the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET) program is now in effect.
The new law allows an additional 100,000 older adults to now become eligible to sign up for the program with enrollment beginning this month. The law expands the PACENET income limits by $6,000:
The PACENET and PACE programs are funded with revenue from the Pennsylvania Lottery and provide comprehensive reimbursement coverage for prescription medications to qualified older Pennsylvanians. The program serves older Pennsylvanians 65 years of age and older, many of whom require multiple medications for several chronic conditions.
You can read more about PACE/PACENET, the latest expansion and the application process here.
Applications Being Accepted for Schools-to-Work Grants
State grants are available to foster partnerships between schools, employers, organizations and associations that lead to career pathways for students. The application deadline is March 15.
Eligible applicants for the Schools-to-Work Program must be registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry as a pre-apprenticeship program or connected with a registered apprenticeship program. Other eligible applicants include an entity that has an established connection with a registered apprenticeship program.
Project proposals must create learning opportunities for participating students and should focus on the coordination of people and resources to help individuals on a continuous path to family-sustaining employment and career growth. The proposal must also focus on building pre-apprenticeship programs to fill current and anticipated labor market needs in the given geographical area.
Virtual Veteran Town Hall Series Set for 2022
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has announced five Virtual Veteran Town Halls to provide veterans with a convenient platform to learn and ask questions about programs and benefits earned through their military service.
Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters live during a chat feature. Visit DMVA’s website two weeks prior to each town hall for the link to participate.
Student Art Competition Raises Awareness About Ticks and Lyme Disease
As the number of Lyme disease cases in the state and across the nation continues to rise, students can use their artistic talents to raise awareness of the prevalence of ticks and the types of diseases they carry.
The Lyme Disease Art Contest is open to children in first through sixth grade. Entries must be received by March 11. Contest materials can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website. Finalists will be notified by mail and will be invited to an award ceremony in May.
There are reports of up to 10,000 Lyme disease cases per year in Pennsylvania and more are likely unreported. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a short course of antibiotics. However, if the infection is left untreated, it can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Ticks that cause Lyme disease are found in every county and every green space, even in cities.
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