Senator Phillips-Hill E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Senate Defends Use of Taxpayer Dollars with Careful Budget Review
  • My Proposal Will Mitigate Teacher Vacancies
  • Cybersecurity Resources for Local Governments
  • Dialogues on Limited Government in Hanover
  • Community Says No to Cuffs Run: Packed House Opposes Project
  • Help Available to Fight Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  • Mobile Office Hours in Springettsbury Next Week
  • 2024 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Available
  • Daylight Saving Time Begins This Weekend
  • Upcoming PennDOT Maintenance Projects

Senate Defends Use of Taxpayer Dollars with Careful Budget Review

The Senate Appropriations Committee continued its review of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal, which totals more than $45.8 billion for the 2024-25 state budget. His plan would increase state spending by more than $3.2 billion, or about 7.1% above the current year’s budget. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I get an inside look at how YOUR hard-earned tax dollars are spent in state government. Watch my reaction to the governor’s budget address here.

Below is a breakdown of each of the public hearings held this week:

Department of Human Services

Challenges with the state’s largest agency and its proposal to enter into an agreement without knowing how much it will cost YOU – the taxpayer.

Raising concerns with department’s IT security and the potential impact on both the department and Pennsylvanians in the aftermath of the recent cyberattack involving Change Healthcare.

Department of State

Automatic voter registration was initiated unilaterally by the Shapiro Administration at PennDOT Driver License Centers. I asked what the Secretary of State thought about implementing it for folks to register for a concealed carry permit.

Following the 2020 election, a bipartisan effort I led with Sen. Lisa Baker saw the enactment of Act 88, barring third-party, dark money in election administration. I asked Secretary Schmidt about ensuring all state dollars for election administration and education be distributed equally among all counties and not targeted to specific counties with specific partisan leanings. I noted that neither side – Republican or Democrat – should have an unfair advantage with election funding.

Department of Transportation

The escalating road funding crisis became the focal point in the discussion with Secretary Carroll, specifically permitting reform and the improvement of motor vehicle services. The exchange highlighted the urgency of finding effective solutions to our state’s infrastructure woes.

Department of Revenue and Governor’s Budget Office

Following up to my questions with the Department of Education, I asked why Gov. Shapiro’s budget does not account for the $7 billion in new spending the Budget Office voted for as part of the Basic Education Funding Commission less than two months ago.

My recent op-ed, which appeared in Broad and Liberty, questions how the Shapiro Administration can support spending another $7 billion (on top of the existing $16.1 billion) in education programs without a way to pay for it (Hint: Tax increases will be needed). I voted against this plan because locking our state into paying for new spending without a way to pay for it is completely backwards from how families all across southern York County budget their households. Read my op-ed here.

My Proposal Will Mitigate Teacher Vacancies 

This week, I announced my intention to introduce a proposal for legislation that will align teacher certification levels with the dynamic structure of today’s schools.  

The proposed changes outline certification levels, spanning from Early Childhood to Secondary, directly address concerns raised during the 2023-24 Basic Education Funding Commission hearings. These adjustments aim to tackle challenges such as teacher vacancies, ensuring that our education policies mirror the contemporary complexities of our schools.

You can read more and find my proposal to revise certification levels here.

Cybersecurity Resources for Local Governments

Despite the perception that local governments are too small to be the target of bad actors online, Pennsylvania’s thousands of municipalities are at risk of cyberattack. In fact, 69% of state and local governments reported being hit in 2023 by ransomware – malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

To combat these attacks that often come with costly consequences, local governments should conduct a cyber assessment and make sure municipal employees understand the importance of using strong passwords and spotting suspicious emails. The initiative grew out of a January hearing held by the Senate Communications and Technology Committee and the Senate Local Government Committee focusing on cybersecurity threats faced by local governments and municipal authorities.

I am also sponsoring legislation that prohibits your hard-earned tax dollars from paying ransom as part of a ransomware attack. Learn more here.

Funding opportunities exist to support cybersecurity efforts through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which administers a program that distributes federal funding. Local governments can learn more at the new Senate Republican Cybersecurity Resources for Local Governments webpage.

Community Says No to Cuffs Run: Packed House Opposes Project

Earlier this week, a packed house in Chanceford Township witnessed the power of community engagement! Nearly 200 concerned citizens gathered to learn how to oppose the proposed Cuffs Run pumped storage facility. A heartfelt thank you to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Public Participation for guiding the discussion. Together, we echoed a resounding “no” to the Cuffs Run pumped storage facility!

Discover more on filing comments here.

Help Available to Fight Drug and Alcohol Abuse

State assistance is available for nonprofit organizations, government entities, community groups and parent groups that work to prevent the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse from harming Pennsylvanians.

Funding can be used to reduce the demand for, or provide an alternative to, drug and alcohol abuse and the violence and other consequences these substances can cause. It can also be used to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and associated problems through educational programming.

Apply for the grant of up to $2,000 through the Office of Attorney General Community Drug Abuse Prevention Grant Program.

Dialogues on Limited Government in Hanover 

Thank you to Nación de Fe Hanover for hosting a meeting with The LIBRE Initiative earlier this week! It was refreshing to stand united in our shared commitment to commonsense solutions—advocating for limited government, family empowerment and economic prosperity.

Mobile Office Hours in Springettsbury Next Week

As a reminder, my team will be at the York Area United Fire Company next Thursday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for our mobile office hours.

A friendly face from my team will be waiting to assist you on any state-related matters. And do not forget, we are here to help with property tax and rent rebates!

2024 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Available

The 2024 adult trout stocking schedule is now available. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will stock approximately 3.2 million adult trout in 695 streams and 128 lakes open to public angling. An additional 1.2 million trout will be stocked by cooperative nurseries.

The trout stocking schedule is searchable by county, lists the waterways in alphabetical order, and indicates stocking dates, meeting locations for volunteers, and the species of trout that are planned to be stocked at each location. Pennsylvania’s statewide Opening Day of Trout Season is April 6. A single, statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day will take place March 30.

Trout to be stocked will include approximately 2.3 million Rainbow Trout, 702,000 Brown Trout, 132,000 Brook Trout and 14,000 Golden Rainbow Trout. As with past practice, the average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length.

Daylight Saving Time Begins This Weekend

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 10, at 2 a.m. While cell phone and computer clocks usually change automatically, most people move their standard clocks and appliances ahead one hour on Saturday night.

This is also a good time to replace the batteries on your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If the devices are older than 10 years, experts suggest upgrading to 10-year, sealed battery alarms. They don’t require any battery replacement throughout their lifetime. However, it is still a good idea to press the test button on the alarms at least once every month.

Upcoming PennDOT Maintenance Projects 

Most weeks, PennDOT shares with me its maintenance schedule for the week ahead. When it becomes available, you can view the full list here to see if it will impact you and your family.

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