In this update:
Senate committee starts review on state budget
This week kicked off the first of three weeks of public hearings on the governor’s 2023-24 state budget.
Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a $45.8 billion budget that would increase spending by $1.3 billion. Based on projections, it would nearly wipe out the state’s $5 billion Rainy Day Fund in five years.
Below are links to videos of the questions I asked and the answers I received on matters important to our community:
Department of Revenue
Discussion on my legislation to help residents of the 28th District who work for Maryland-based employers and the department’s unused, prior year funds totaling about $50 million.
Independent Fiscal Office
Concerns on Pennsylvania’s possible budget shortfalls within the next few years, according to a five-year outlook released by the Independent Fiscal Office.
Frustrations of Pennslvania being the nation’s top exporter of electricity and how that affects York County farmers.
Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Critical role of the Commonwealth, being the largest landowner, plays in deploying broadband infrastructure across the state.
Innovative and proactive approach to safeguard our state’s finances.
Department of Environmental Protection
Emphasis on the need for commonsense and long-term, bipartisan permitting reform.
Impact of a proposed energy project – a hydroelectric dam in Chanceford Township taller than the Bay Bridge in Maryland, possibly condemning 1,000 acres of pristine and preserved farmland, as well as adversely impacting recreational and historical sites throughout the region.
Difficulties with carrying out audits, even audits requested by state agencies, without use of subpoena power.
Office of Attorney General
Discussed the 25 new positions the office plans on creating and their resources to create positions.
State Treasurer Stacy Garrity urged lawmakers to make greater investments in Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund and reduce the structural deficit to improve the state’s credit rating. She testified that the commonwealth has a choice: spend modestly now or face a possible fiscal cliff as federal funds dry up and the Rainy Day Fund is depleted.
Independent Fiscal Office Director Matthew Knittel confirmed that Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would mean hundreds of millions of dollars in new energy taxes. Higher electricity costs could be on the horizon if Shapiro advances a carbon tax.
Find the hearings schedule, livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at PASenateGOP.com.
Check the status of your tax refund
As families struggle with rising costs and inflation, many are anticipating their tax refund. Anyone who would like to check the status of a Pennsylvania Income Tax refund can do so by calling 1-888-PATAXES or clicking here. There is also an opportunity to verify your tax refund to expedite processing.
Improving access to unemployment compensation system
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry extended indefinitely a program that enhances Pennsylvanians’ access to the Unemployment Compensation (UC) system by offering in-person appointments to claimants.
The program, now called UC Connect, offers in-person services for UC claimants who do not have proper technology, equipment or technical skills; individuals without access to home Internet or broadband; and individuals with limited-English proficiency.
To schedule an appointment, claimants should contact a PA CareerLink® center directly.
Visiting Seitzland Rifle Club: Junior Olympics
Thank you to Seitzland Rifle Club for the invitation to visit during their practice last night! They have three juniors that qualified for the first round of invites to the 2023 Junior Olympics.
The competition will be held in Colorado at the Olympic training center starting on April 7. What a fantastic group! Good luck in Colorado!
Adams Electric Cooperative member meeting
It was great to join Rep. Wendy Fink and other officials at the Adams Electric Cooperative member meeting earlier this week. As always, it was a noteworthy conversation about rates and the focus on member engagement. Stay tuned for my forthcoming information on how I am fighting to mitigate the rising cost of energy in Pennsylvania.
North Hills Elementary School visits state Capitol
Thank you to the students, teachers and chaperones who attended the North Hill Elementary School, part of the Central York School District, tour of the state Capitol. Rep. Joe D’Orsie and I had a great time meeting you and spending time with you as we showed you some of the behind-the-scenes work of our job as your state legislators.
You can view more photos from their visit here.
Veterans: Protect your pension
Veterans and their beneficiaries who are potentially eligible for VA pension benefits must beware of pension poaching. While pension poaching can impact any veteran, poachers primarily target older veterans. Pension poaching comes in several forms, from selling financial products of questionable value to charging a fee to restructure assets to make the veteran or beneficiary meet income eligibility criteria. Read about other pension poaching methods here.
Avoid becoming a victim of pension poaching by never paying:
If you suspect or experience a scam or financial exploitation related to any veteran benefit, including a VA pension, file a report immediately with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Military and Veterans Affairs section by calling 717-783-1944, emailing PAvets@attorneygeneral.gov or filling out this online form.
If you or someone you know found this information helpful, please consider receiving my veteran-specific updates. These monthly updates are sent directly to your inbox. Please sign up here.
Share your feedback on PennDOT’s winter services
PennDOT is accepting winter services feedback through an online survey. The public can take the survey here through April 6.
The 17-question survey asks how often respondents travel during poor weather, how they rate PennDOT’s winter service and how they rank snow-removal priorities. Respondents are also asked how they receive PennDOT roadway information and whether they use the state’s 511PA traveler information services.
During the winter, https://511pa.com offers its standard traffic and incident information while adding PennDOT plow-truck locations, winter roadway conditions and other services.
Local job openings
Upcoming PennDOT maintenance projects
You can view PennDOT’s list of scheduled maintenance projects for next week below.
Subscribe to my podcast: next episode will feature conversation with Auditor General DeFoor
I will sit down with our state’s top fiscal watchdog, Auditor General Timothy DeFoor, to discuss his role in safeguarding YOUR money!
Here is a link to the schedule of next week’s public hearings on YOUR state budget. You can catch all of the questions I asked at these hearings here.
You can always tune in live here.
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