Senator Pittman E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • 137th Groundhog Day at Gobbler’s Knob
  • Face The State & Indiana In The Morning
  • Visit to Penns Manor Area Elementary
  • Report Tracks College Savings Accounts in Rural and Urban Counties
  • How to File PA Income Tax Returns Online
  • Federal Fire, EMS Grant Program Closes Feb. 10
  • Educational Gratuity Program Helps Children of Fallen Military Members
  • Watch PA Wildlife Anytime from Home

137th Groundhog Day at Gobbler’s Knob

This week a lot of attention was focused on the 41st Senatorial District’s most famous resident, Punxsutawney Phil! The 137th Groundhog Day began early on Thursday morning and as you may have heard, Phil saw his shadow – bringing another 6 weeks of winter!

On Wednesday I visited the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center for Punxsutawney Phil’s induction into the Meteorologist Hall of Fame as the final inductee.  The Center has a wealth of information and interactive exhibits to learn about the science and folklore of weather – be sure to check it out if you can.  Last evening, I attended the annual Groundhog Banquet with several colleagues and enjoyed seeing many familiar faces.  

It was great to share in the excitement of this wonderful annual tradition, which provides a positive economic impact on the local community with the incredible influx of visitors who attend each year.  Thank you to The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club for their commitment and dedication to ensuring this outstanding tradition continues to thrive in our region!

Face The State & Indiana In The Morning

I recently sat down with Joel Smith on CBS21 Face The State and Todd Marino on Indiana In The Morning, to talk about several legislative issues at the forefront of Pennsylvania government.

Check out these interviews to hear about what is happening in state government, including:

  • Start of the New Legislative Session
  • Legislation passed by the Senate
  • Voter ID
  • Working with the Executive Branch
  • State Budget
  • Cabinet Nominees
  • Radar for Local Law Enforcement

Visit to Penns Manor Area Elementary

I had the pleasure of stopping by Ms. Carney’s kindergarten class at Penns Manor Area Elementary last week and was impressed by their attention and thoughtful questions.  The artwork that they made to welcome me to their classroom is now hanging in my office at the Capitol in Harrisburg!

Report Tracks College Savings Accounts in Rural and Urban Counties

A new report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Treasury Department evaluated trends in post-secondary education savings accounts, also known as PA 529 accounts.

PA Treasury offers two PA 529 plans: the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP), which allows families to save at today’s tuition rates to meet tomorrow’s tuition costs, and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), which offers a variety of investment options.

The report examined differences between rural and urban Pennsylvania beneficiaries in the amount of savings, consistency of contributions and types of accounts opened. Key findings:

  • Education savings in PA 529 accounts are more highly concentrated in urban counties.
  • More than 60% of all contributions in PA 529 accounts between January 2018 and March 2022 went to Investment Plan accounts in urban counties.
  • A sharp increase in contribution amounts occurred in the third and fourth quarters of 2021, with Investment Plan contributions rising more than 30% from inflation-adjusted prior-year values.
  • Rural beneficiaries received an average $56 less per quarter than their urban counterparts – even after controlling for income, education and age.

The Treasury Department is increasing rural outreach to promote college savings. You can watch a discussion of the findings here.

How to File PA Income Tax Returns Online

Tax-filing season has opened, and the state Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers of the free online option to file their Pennsylvania personal income tax returns:

Taxpayers do not need to create a username or password to perform many functions in myPATH. That includes filing the Pennsylvania Personal Income Tax Return (PA-40), making a payment, responding to department requests for information and checking the status of a refund.

The deadline to submit 2022 personal income tax returns is April 18. Personal income tax assistance is also available through the department’s Online Customer Service Center and by calling 717-787-8201 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Taxpayers may also visit a Department of Revenue district office for state personal income tax filing assistance.

Federal Fire, EMS Grant Program Closes Feb. 10

Fire departments and non-affiliated EMS organizations have until Feb. 10 to apply for federal grants for equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources.

Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program helps firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Fire and EMS organizations can find an application checklist, a rundown of recent program changes, Frequently Asked Questions, videos and more here.

Educational Gratuity Program Helps Children of Fallen Military Members

We owe a debt of gratitude to Pennsylvanians who served in the military, especially those disabled or killed during conflict. Part of paying that debt is helping to care for the impacted families.

The Educational Gratuity Program provides education financial assistance for children of honorably discharged veterans with service-connected disabilities who served during war or armed conflict, or children of veterans who died during war or armed conflict.

Children of eligible veterans must be between the ages of 16 and 23, living in Pennsylvania five years prior to application and attend a school within the commonwealth. You can read more about eligibility and applying here.

Watch PA Wildlife Anytime from Home

You can watch black bears, eagles and snow geese this winter through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s round-the-clock livestreams.

A new 24-7 livestream from a black bear den in Pike County brings to four the number of livestreams the Game Commission plans to run into the spring of 2023. Also showing are the Farm Country Eagle Livestream, which provides a bird’s-eye view into a long-established nest in a giant sycamore overlooking scenic farmland, the popular Hanover, Pa. Eagle Livestream and the agency’s Snow Goose Livestream capturing the migratory action at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Pennsylvania’s black bears usually are born in January and begin walking in about eight weeks. They leave the den when three months old. Bald eagles typically lay eggs in mid-February and the eggs hatch in mid- to late March. Snow goose migration typically peaks at Middle Creek from mid-February to March.

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