In this Update:
Resolution Urging President Biden to Restart the Keystone XL Pipeline
This week, my colleagues Senator Joe Pittman, Senator Gene Yaw, and I announced our intent to introduce a resolution urging President Biden to restart the Keystone XL Pipeline.
This week oil prices have soared over $100 per barrel and currently, the United States is importing over 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia. These barrels are either going to become more expensive or completely unavailable as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to escalate.
The United States cannot continue to rely so heavily on foreign oil when we have the resources to fuel our vehicles and heat our homes. It was expected that the Keystone XL Pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, which would help offset the current supply received daily from Russia. Restarting the Keystone XL Pipeline will ease the burden that Pennsylvanians are feeling every day and protect our national energy security going forward.
I hope President Biden takes this action and moves the United States toward energy independence and away from being dependent on Russian energy.
Appropriations Hearing Highlights
During the Senate Appropriations hearing with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), I asked what so many Pennsylvanians want to know: is the plan to toll nine bridges proceeding? Will work be completed by a PA company so PA workers and economy benefit?
I asked the Acting Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections during the Senate Appropriations hearing about contraband inmate mail, steps for protecting correctional officers, & more.
Grand Opening of Qualfon
This week, my staff attended the grand opening of the Johnstown location of Qualfon. Best wishes!
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.
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.