In this Update:
Senate Sends Budget Bill to Governor’s Desk
The Senate reconvened this week to send the 2023-24 General Appropriations bill to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk to be signed into law. This action maintains our commitment to moving Pennsylvania forward and will prevent disruptions to the many critical services Pennsylvanians rely on every day. Advancing this legislation ensures funding can be released to schools, counties and nonprofits without interruption as the final components of the budget are negotiated and completed.
The $45.55 billion budget spends approximately $300 million less than what Gov. Shapiro proposed in March. I am pleased we were able to pass a budget that holds the line on taxes, promotes job growth, continues historic support for schools and sets aside money to prevent future tax hikes.
It is important to note this step does not complete the budget process, as certain programs require implementation language before funding can be released. These include key priorities like mental health grants for schools, emergency relief for hospitals and increases to EMS reimbursement rates. We are continuing our work to negotiate these items to ensure a full budget is put in place to help all Pennsylvanians.
The Senate also signed and sent to Gov. Shapiro’s desk a bill that would expand eligibility and rebate amounts available through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, providing more assistance to low-income seniors and Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
With the recent resignation of a member of the House, their chamber now stands deadlocked, with an even number of Republicans and Democrats. Having a chamber with a 101 to 101 split makes it very hard to see how some of these important pieces of legislation can be advanced until the vacancy in the House is filled again. The Senate stands ready to return to session and complete the steps necessary to bring this year’s budget to a close as soon as possible.
State of the Commonwealth Breakfast
This week, I spoke at the annual Cambria Regional Chamber State of the Commonwealth Breakfast!
Clearfield County Fair Parade
I was thrilled to attend the annual Clearfield County Fair Parade on Monday with State Representatives Dallas Kephart and Mike Armanini.
Honoring Former Ebensburg Borough Police Chief Terry Wyland
I had the honor of presenting a Pennsylvania Senate Citation to recently retired Ebensburg Police Chief Terry Wyland. He joined the Ebensburg Borough Police Department in 1982 and spent his forty-one-year career in law enforcement there. Please join me in thanking Chief Wyland for his years of dedicated service to the community. Congratulations!
Mature Driver Safety Program
I have partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to offer a Mature Driver Safety Program to area seniors at no cost.
1. Review driver safety procedures
2. Learn about the Yellow Dot program
3. Get “CarFit” by a certified technician
Space is limited and registration is required. We are offering two dates for this program each from 9 AM – 1 PM.
August 24, 2023, at Richland Fire Hall, 1321 Scalp Avenue, Johnstown PA 15904. To register for this session click here.
September 12, 2023, at Northern Cambria Recreation Center, 186 Schoolhouse Rd, Ebensburg PA 15931. To register for this session click here.
For more information or to register via phone for one of these sessions, please contact my office at 814-266-2277.
AAABA Returns to Johnstown
On Tuesday, I attended the AAABA night game. Best of luck to the teams playing the rest of the week!
Centre County Back to School Supplies
Centre County families, if you’re in need of school supplies for this coming school year, below is a list of places you can pick up supplies for FREE:
Faith Centre (131 S. Allegheny Street, Bellefonte) July 31 to August 5 they will be giving away free sneakers and outfits for school children
Salvation Army (2603 E. College Avenue, State College) Saturday, August 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. You must bring proof of residence, household income or expenses, and the student’s last report card or birth certificate
YMCA Summer Lunch Program School supplies will be distributed at the summer lunch program sites, which can be found here.
If you are able to donate supplies, you may drop off the recommend supplies at the following locations:
State College Texas Roadhouse – 1885 Waddle Road, State College
My Centre County office – 341 Science Park Road, Suite 201, State College
Share Your Opinion about Broadband in Pennsylvania
Rather than a luxury, high-speed internet is a necessity to participate in today’s economy. Access to high-speed internet helps to ensure public safety, benefits employers and Pennsylvania’s workforce, and provides an equal opportunity for students.
Pennsylvania has been awarded $1.16 billion in federal funding to expand internet access across the commonwealth. Community members – including residents, businesses and organizations – are invited to comment on the draft five-year implementation plan via an online survey available through Aug. 8.
Report Abuse of Adults Living with a Disability
Sadly, adults living with a disability are more likely to face abuse, neglect, exploitation and abandonment.
Common signs of abuse include bruises or broken bones, weight loss, memory loss, personality changes, social isolation and changes in banking habits.
If you suspect abuse, report it by calling the Protective Services Hotline at 1-800-490-8505. A report can be made on behalf of the adult whether they live in their home or in a care facility such as a nursing facility, group home or hospital. Reporters can remain anonymous and have legal protection from retaliation, discrimination, and civil and criminal prosecution.
Recognizing National Farmers Market Week
Aug. 6-12 is National Farmers Market Week, and there are so many places to celebrate in Pennsylvania. With agriculture as the state’s top industry, farmers markets can be found all across the commonwealth.
Farmers markets offer more than the freshest produce. You can also find delicious baked goods, cheeses and craft coffees. Some even offer how-to classes and the opportunity to pick your own produce.
Find a farmers market to enjoy here.
Free Tool to Relate Military Experience to Civilian Job Requirements
The Department of State has an innovative tool to help veterans and service members translate their military experience into civilian career opportunities. The military occupational crosswalk is a series of charts for each occupation licensed by the department that compare licensing requirements with typical duties, training, qualifications and related credentials with military occupations.
Created after Act 35 of 2022 received unanimous support from the General Assembly, the crosswalk defines a military applicant as a service member, veteran or military spouse; provides initial licensure fee waivers for military spouses who must relocate because of a service member’s military orders; allows service members to reactivate an expired professional or occupational license without penalty if the reactivation coincides with a deployment and is completed within one month of returning from the deployment; and more.
Read more here about professional and occupational licensing in the commonwealth.
Submit or Search for a Veteran Job
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs offers a job listing as a service to individuals and organizations to promote their veteran and military-oriented events being held in Pennsylvania. It is a comprehensive resource for the state’s more than 700,000 veterans as they consider new employment opportunities.
Submit a job or view the current listings – which include roles for nurses, police officers, recovery specialists and more – here.
Improved Dashboard Better Tracks PA Homeowner Assistance Fund
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) launched an updated program dashboard to track the status of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund, a pandemic-relief program that provides financial assistance to qualified homeowners for mortgage and housing-related expenses.
The new dashboard, which will be updated at least monthly, includes:
The initial dashboard presents the data in a static image format, but in the coming weeks, PHFA will introduce additional interactive capabilities including the ability to see more detailed information by county and details by the various assistance types. The changes will provide increased accountability and transparency in the program’s operations.
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