In this update:
Honored to serve as chair of important fiscal oversight committee
Earlier this week, I was entrusted with unanimous support from my colleges on the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to serve as the chair of this important oversight body.
This committee is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative service agency that conducts studies, makes recommendations aimed at eliminating unnecessary expenditures and assures state funding is being expended in accordance with legislative intent and law.
I am grateful to serve in this position and help advance commonsense polices that ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars.
You can find out more about this committee here.
Senate concludes state budget hearings
This week wrapped up the Senate Appropriations Committee’s third and final week of public hearings about the proposed 2023-24 state budget.
Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a $45.8 billion budget that would increase spending by $1.3 billion and all but deplete the state’s Rainy Day Fund in five years.
As a member of the committee, I have been able to question departments on issues that are important to our neighbors. Here are the topics and videos from my discussions this week:
Department of Community & Economic Development
Streamlining a skilled workforce to keep jobs in Pennsylvania
Department of Corrections
Cybersecurity concerns pertaining to inmate tablets
Department of Human Services
Impact of disappearing federal dollars on Pennsylvania taxpayers
Improving patient experiences and lowering costs
Funding used to promote abortion access on the state’s website
Department of Health
COVID-19 death data sharing, providing records to conduct research
Electronic death information system data sharing for voter list integrity
Department of Transportation
Preventing another Mt. Rose interchange debacle and asking why EV owners pay significantly less into the state’s Motor License Fund, which pays for road and bridge maintenance, compared to gas-powered vehicles.
Office of the Budget & Department of General Services
Ensuring state tax dollars are not misused or misspent
The Senate will use findings from the hearings to craft an alternative spending plan to the governor’s budget proposal, with the aim of enacting a final 2023-24 state budget in the coming months.
You can watch all of my Q&A from these hearings here.
You can find video and recaps of every budget hearing at PASenateGOP.com.
Monthly appropriations update shows lagging tax collections
Each month, the Senate Appropriations Committee prepares an update about the state’s financial health. The most recent report shows that sales and use tax (SUT) collections were $25 million, or 2.3%, below estimate for the month. Perhaps more importantly, March’s SUT collections were below March 2022’s collections.
SUT is the second-largest source of revenue for the General Fund and is mostly due on a “pay-as-you-go” basis throughout the year. Closely monitoring these collections for continued weakness could help signify any potential slowing of the economy.
The full update, including the monthly revenue report, is available here.
Safely dispose of unused prescriptions on April 22
Conveniently remove opioids and other unused medicines from your home on Saturday, April 22, as part of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
More than 13 tons of prescription drugs were disposed of across Pennsylvania in the Prescription Drug Take Back Day held last October.
Find a location to safely dispose of unused drugs here.
Discussing the Pennsylvania Pharmacy Act with local resident
A few weeks ago, I was able to sit down and talk to local registered nurse, Brett Lloyd-Green. We had a wonderful discussion about my legislation that aims to amend the Pennsylvania Pharmacy Act.
Under my legislation, it would permanently permit emergency medical services (EMS) providers to leave a dose package of life-saving naloxone with the on-scene caregiver of a patient who overdosed on opioids and was revived by EMS, providing a standing prescription has been issued by the Department of Health.
Thank you, Brett, for reaching out and having this conversation with me!
Farmers: Help Pennsylvania claim federal funding
The United States Department of Agriculture is collecting responses for the 2022 Census of Agriculture, which impacts funding priorities for numerous programs. Any farmers who have not returned their questionnaires are encouraged to respond by mail or online here.
In addition to directing the use of tax dollars, the census data also informs decisions about policy, farm and conservation programs, infrastructure and rural development, research, education and more.
State grant deadline is May 1 for Pennsylvania college students
The deadline for students and families to submit their applications for the 2023-24 Pennsylvania State Grant program is May 1. This deadline applies to all renewal applicants and first-time applicants who plan to enroll in a degree program or other college or university (excluding community colleges).
To apply for a Pennsylvania State Grant, applicants must first complete the 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants can access the FAFSA online at www.PHEAA.org/FAFSA or www.fafsa.gov. Completing the FAFSA online saves time and reduces application and processing errors.
Students and families with questions about the FAFSA or the State Grant Program can call 800-692-7392 for personal assistance.
Interview with York Suburban High School student
Last Thursday, I wrapped up my week with York Suburban High School student, Braydon Nolan. As a part of his English class, he is assigned with writing a paper on a topic of his choosing. Braydon asked diligent, thoughtful questions pertaining to his topic!
Local job openings
Upcoming PennDOT maintenance projects
You can view PennDOT’s list of scheduled maintenance projects for next week below. If you have trouble viewing the schedule, please click here.
New podcast episode next week with Treasurer Garrity
I sit down with Treasurer Stacy Garrity next week for my next podcast episode. We discuss her thoughts on the state budget, Treasury’s move to ban TikTok on devices, and more. You can subscribe to my podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.