In this update:
New Podcast Episode: Talking Financial Literacy
Even before graduation, high school students are inundated with financial decisions – from student loans for college to the purchase of a first vehicle. However, equipping those students with the knowledge to make informed decisions has proven to be a big challenge.
Sen. Chris Gebhard wants to build a better foundation for future financial decisions starting in high school. I sat down and talked to him about a new law he authored that will give students basic money management skills and long-term financial planning through a mandatory course every Pennsylvania student will take in high school.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Now Serves More People
Financial relief is available to more people than ever through the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) Program, which supports homeowners and renters across the commonwealth using gaming and Pennsylvania Lottery proceeds.
New this year, the income cap increased to $45,000 for both homeowners and renters. Only half of an applicant’s Social Security income is included in the calculations for eligibility. Starting this year, income caps are tied to the annual cost-of-living increases. Additionally, the maximum standard rebate on property taxes or rent paid increased to $1,000. The program is open to state residents 65 and older, widows and widowers 50 or older, or anyone age 18 and over who is 100% disabled.
My office can provide free PTRR application assistance to residents. If interested, please call my office and bring all proof of income, your ID and a voided check if you wish to have the rebate direct deposited. In addition, property owners must have paid property taxes stamped or signed by the tax collector. Renters must have a rent certificate filled out and signed by their landlord.
Homewood at Plum Creek Gets Renovations
A big congratulations to Homewood at Plum Creek for the stunning renovations to their nursing facility! The updates include modernized residents’ bathrooms and shower areas, upgraded light fixtures, a fresh coat of paint, new handrails in the hallways, and the addition of lovely and comfortable furnishings.
It was truly delightful to join the celebration alongside the Homewood residents, the dedicated care team, PA State Rep. Kate Klunk and the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce. The ribbon-cutting ceremony and the insightful tour showcased the fantastic improvements to this facility, reinforcing its significance as a tremendous asset to the community. You can find more photos on my Facebook.
Healthy Rainy Day Fund Cushions Against Hard Times
As of the beginning of January, the state’s Rainy Day Fund sits at a record high of $6.1 billion thanks to prudent decisions the Senate made in the past three years. Most recently, we deposited $900 million as part of the current state budget. While others wanted to spend the money on all sorts of things, we prioritized smart saving so we would have a cushion in the event of hard times.
To build on the benefits of smart budgeting, Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced a new investment pool specifically for the Rainy Day Fund. It’s designed to earn even better returns while continuing to ensure that money will be available when needed.
A strong Rainy Day Fund offers more than just a financial buffer. Because of the state’s healthy nest egg, Pennsylvania received rating improvements from three rating agencies: Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. The better ratings help Pennsylvania taxpayers by reducing the cost of borrowing for the state.
Engaging Conversation at Dallastown and Red Lion Rotary
I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at the Dallastown and Red Lion Rotary Club’s meeting this week! The warm welcome and engaging conversations made it a memorable visit. I provided a legislative update on key community matters, and the active participation from the club members added depth to the discussion.
Thank you once again for the opportunity, and I look forward to future collaborations that contribute to the betterment of our shared community!
Hanover Trolley Trail Extension Open House
I had the opportunity to attend an informative open house hosted by the York County Rail Trail Authority last week, focusing on the extension of the Hanover Trolley Trail. The event provided a great opportunity to gain insights into the expansion project, examine plans, and peruse drawings for the upcoming 2024 trail construction.
Celebrating York County’s Tourism
Yesterday was a joyous celebration of York County’s dynamic and flourishing tourism sector! A heartfelt thank you to Explore York for extending the invitation to the 21st Annual Event hosted at the beautiful Bentley Farms in Hellam Township.
Congratulations to the dedicated restaurateurs, hoteliers, venue owners, and attractions that play a pivotal role in enhancing our quality of life and bolstering our local economy. Your contributions to our community are truly commendable! You can find more photos from the event here.
2023 Accomplishments: Public Safety
The men and women of law enforcement and emergency response work hard to keep us safe. As their jobs become even more difficult, they need our support.
Last year, we passed legislation to combat different forms of theft. We have new laws that target looting and organized retail theft by increasing penalties and crack down on “porch pirating” by setting penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter.
We also passed measures to prevent the exploitation of older Pennsylvanians. This legislation will significantly contribute to preventing fraud, abuse and exploitation within the guardianship system while increasing representation for vulnerable individuals.
Free FAFSA Workshops Across PA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) underwent changes resulting from the FAFSA Simplification Act, a federal law intended to streamline the financial aid application process.
Filing the FAFSA online is the first step for students and families to determine if they qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, Pennsylvania State Grant, scholarships, institutional awards and federal student loans.
Because of the changes, free FAFSA workshops are being held across the state. Find one near you.
Prioritizing Mental Health at All Ages
January is Mental Wellness Awareness Month, which is a great reminder of how important it is to focus on our mental health, particularly as mental health challenges increased for so many people in the past few years because of the pandemic and the many impacts it had on all of us.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in 20 adults in the United States experience serious mental illness each year. With 50% of all lifetime mental illness beginning by age 14, it’s important to support young people.
As part of this fiscal year’s budget, Senate Republicans dedicated $100 million for school mental health, helping to address a major need as mental health needs for young people continue to rise.
ICYMI: This Week in PA
Last Sunday morning, I appeared on ABC 27’s This Week in PA with Dennis Owens alongside Rep. Mike Sturla. You can watch our interview here (at around the 9:00 mark).
Mobile Office Hours in Springettsbury Twp.
Next Thursday, Feb. 1, members of my team will be at the York Area United Fire and Rescue Station in Springettsbury Township from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. offering assistance on state-related issues. You can find more information on this initiative here. My team hopes to see you there!
Upcoming PennDOT Maintenance Projects
You can view PennDOT’s list of scheduled maintenance projects for next week below.