Hello! Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 23rd Senate District and look forward to working with you toward building a better future for Pennsylvania!
This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties and what I am doing as your state senator in Harrisburg. I hope that you will find this E-newsletter helpful, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
What We’re Watching…
PA Senate Budget Hearings Officially Kick-Off This Week. DCNR and DEP Took Center Stage During Line of Questioning.
Mentored Youth Trout Day Is this Saturday, March 25.
WalkWorks Active Transportation Plan Funding Opportunity Announcement Webinar, April 6.
Bridge Replacement Set to Begin on Jackson Center Road in Jackson Township, Tioga County.
Greater Wyalusing Chamber Holds Annual Dinner Meeting
This week, I joined the Greater Wyalusing Chamber of Commerce, as well as elected officials and business leaders, at the Chamber’s annual dinner.The meeting provided an opportunity to meet the chamber’s new executive director, Carly Sheldon of Laceyville, who officially took over her new role on Feb. 1. The keynote speaker was Kerri Strauss of Kerry Strauss Consulting.
During the event, I provided an update on the ongoing Senate Appropriations Committee hearings, which are reviewing Governor Shapiro’s 2023-2024 budget proposal, electric distribution challenges, high electricity costs, as well as further update on legislative action.
March is “Music in Our Schools Month”
March is designated “Music in Our Schools Month” and is that time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across our state. Over the past several weeks, with the support from PA Music Educators Association (PMEA), the Capitol has welcomed some fantastic performances from across my Senate District. I’m especially happy to see and hear the Loyalsock Township Middle School Jazz Ensemble rock the Capitol!
Additionally, my office welcomed C.E. McCall Middle School students (pictured below) to Harrisburg. The sound of the 6th grade chorus filled the Capitol Rotunda!
Senate Reviews Proposed State Budget
The Senate Appropriations Committee held the first of three weeks 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. Based on projections, it would nearly wipe out the state’s $5 billion Rainy Day Fund in five years.
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.
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.
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.
Sullivan County Students Showcase Artwork at Capitol
I would like to congratulate Payton Tillotson and Ayla Swift, both students from Sullivan County Elementary School, who had their artwork chosen to be in the 2023 PAEA Pennsylvania Art Education Association Youth Art Month (YAM) Show.
Ayla’s artwork – “Colorful Bird Collage” – was chosen by PAEA jurors to receive the Region 8 award at this year’s virtual PAEA Exhibit. It is currently on display in the East Wing Rotunda at the PA Capitol.
Congratulations to both of these very talented Sullivan County School District students!
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