|My Bill to Protect Taxpayers from Higher Spending Advances
I’m pleased to report my legislation aiming to protect taxpayers from excessive state spending earned the approval of the House State Government Committee last month.
One of the main reasons I came to Harrisburg was to help get state spending under control, and the Taxpayer Protection Act will go a long way toward achieving that goal. As a lawmaker, I am always mindful that every dollar we spend comes from your wallet. It must be spent wisely.
House Bill 1316 proposes an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would establish state budget spending limits that the Commonwealth – and lawmakers – would have to abide by each fiscal year. Specifically, the proposal would limit the rate at which the Commonwealth’s spending may increase, based on the sum of the percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index and the change in population growth.
In order to amend the state Constitution, identical bills must be approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions and then be presented to Pennsylvania voters as a referendum. If established, this amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution only could be suspended by a 75% majority vote in both the House and Senate.
Frazier Softball Champs Recognized at State Capitol
I was proud and honored to welcome players and coaches from the state champion Frazier High School Lady Commodores softball team to the state House last month to be recognized for their outstanding achievement on the field.
The team earned the PIAA Class AA championship title by beating Brandywine Heights 6-5 on Friday, June 14.
Team members making the trip to Harrisburg included Kathryn Barch, Emi Curcio, Logan Hartman, Juliann Johnson, Mackenzie Kelly, Abigail Scott, Haley Somers and Victoria Washinski, as well as coaches Don and Mandy Hartman and several parents.
To watch the presentation, click the video below.
2019-20 State Budget Invests in Education, Rainy Day Fund
The General Assembly approved a $33.997 billion state budget last month for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The budget represents a 1.8% increase in spending over last year but spends $149 million less than what the governor proposed to spend back in February. Most importantly, it includes no new or increased taxes.
The budget makes key investments in the core functions of government, including another year of record funding for education. PreK-12 education funding is increased by $432 million, including $160 million more for Basic Education Funding, $50 million more for special education and $25 million more for PreK Counts. I am especially pleased by the $10 million increase for career and technical education that will help prepare our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Another $60 million is set aside for school safety grants.
Because of prudent and responsible budgeting in recent years, we are also setting aside an estimated $300 million for the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Essentially the state’s savings account, this fund is designed to help the Commonwealth weather the next economic downturn without increasing taxes on families and small business owners.
Other key initiatives in the budget include new investments in the agriculture industry and nearly $10 million more in funding to support three new classes of cadets for the Pennsylvania State Police to help keep our highways and communities safer.
Learn more about the budget here.
Fish for Free on Independence Day
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is hosting the second of its two annual Fish for Free Days on Independence Day, Thursday, July 4.
This is a great opportunity to try your hand at fishing in any of Pennsylvania’s waterways, even if you don’t have a license.
Both residents and non-residents are eligible. Just make sure you follow all other fishing regulations.
For your convenience, there are even opportunities to borrow equipment from certain sites at state parks and other locations. You can find those locations by clicking here.
Independence Day Reminders
A few important reminders as you plan to celebrate our nation’s independence next week!
If you are traveling, check out 511pa.com. Free and available 24 hours a day, the site provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 950 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
PennDOT will also close its driver license service centers on Thursday, July 4. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, dmv.pa.gov.
Have a safe and happy July Fourth!
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended Until Dec. 31
Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities now have until Dec. 31 to apply for the state’s 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The original deadline was June 30.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.
Eligibility information and forms are available on my website at RepWarner.com or by contacting my office. We are also available to help you complete the paperwork; there is no need to pay a private firm for help.
Claimants who already applied for rebates may check the status of claims online at revenue.pa.gov by clicking on the “Where’s My Property Tax/Rent Rebate?” link. Claimants may also call, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES to check the status of their rebates.
PLEASE NOTE: The Department of Revenue is warning Pennsylvania seniors and people with disabilities of a scam involving the popular Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.
The scam consists of unsolicited telephone calls from a person claiming to work for the Department of Revenue. The caller starts the call by saying the recipient's application for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been approved. The caller then asks if the recipient would like the rebate directly deposited into a bank account, which prompts a request from the caller for the recipient's banking information.
The Department of Revenue DOES NOT make unsolicited calls requesting banking information and warns consumers to always be extremely cautious when they receive unsolicited phone calls.
For more about this scam and how to protect yourself, click here.
Fun for All Ages Awaits at PA Fairs
Summer has officially arrived, and that means it’s also Pennsylvania fair season!
From June through September, communities across the Commonwealth will host more than 100 fairs featuring food, fun and entertainment as well as competitive exhibits highlighting animals, produce, crops, crafts, baking and more.
The Fayette County Fair is coming up at the end of this month (July 25-Aug. 3), and our region is also host to the Dawson Grange Fair, Bullskin Township Fair, Westmoreland Fair and Sewickley Township Fair.
To make your fair planning easier, the Department of Agriculture is offering an interactive Fair Guide this year that will allow you to search for your favorite events through the “Find Fairs Near Me” tool or filters that narrow down fairs by county, month or date.
Click here to use the interactive tool.