In this Update:
Massive Spending Increase in Shapiro’s Budget Creates Concern
The 2024-25 state budget proposal put forth by Gov. Josh Shapiro centers on massive spending increases without regard for the negative impact on taxpayers in future years. Shapiro’s plan represents a 7.1% increase in overall state spending.
Shapiro’s budget would likely result in higher inflation, leading to increased costs at a time when many families are struggling just to put gas in their vehicles and food on their table.
Pennsylvania Senate Republicans will work during the next several months to examine Shapiro’s budget proposal and search for greater efficiencies. While the governor’s vision is shortsighted, our vision for Pennsylvania remains focused on pro-growth initiatives that respect taxpayers and their hard-earned money.
On February 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee will begin a series of budget hearings to study the budget proposal.
Jefferson County Retirement Recognized
I was honored to present a Senate citation to Sheriff Carl Gotwald in recognition of his 31 years of service to the citizens of Jefferson County.
Joining me at the presentation were Samuel Bartley, Jefferson County’s new Sheriff, Sen. Cris Dush, Sheriff Gotwald and state Rep. Brian Smith.
Well done Sheriff Gotwald – wishing you a wonderful retirement!
Senate Hearing on Office of Administration Data Loss
This week, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee and Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on the recent Shapiro Office of Administration (OA) server data loss.
According to the OA, human error from an employee performing server maintenance on Jan. 3 resulted in data loss affecting several agencies. Additional information requested at the hearing will be reviewed once received by the committees. Video of the hearing can be found here.
Senate Passes Measure Supporting a More Secure Southern Border
The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a measure calling for action to address the crisis at America’s southern border and support for the rights of states to protect their citizens.
Senate Resolution 234 voices support for Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s fight to secure the southern border amid federal inaction.
One of the most fundamental issues of our time is protecting and securing our borders, and the sense of the Pennsylvania Senate must be expressed on this issue of such gravity.
The Biden administration’s failed immigration policies have left the United States of America in a vulnerable position. Ensuring public safety and national security are central tenets of what our government must provide. The lawlessness and chaos at our nation’s southern border is no doubt a crisis which must be rectified.
Punxsutawney High School Senior
It was a pleasure meeting Dysen Gould, a Punxsutawney High School Senior.
We had a great conversation about his interest in politics and public administration.
Dysen will be attending American University in Washington D.C. this fall and plans to join the school’s wrestling squad.
Best wishes to Dysen in all his future endeavors!
Public Comment Regarding PPL Settlement Open Now
In late 2022 and early 2023, PPL customers experienced unusually high or low estimated bills, missing monthly bills and inadequate customer service support resulting in customers’ inability to reach PPL Call Center representatives to discuss their billing concerns.
To address those issues, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) will evaluate and consider a joint settlement. As part of the evaluation, a public comment period regarding the proposed settlement is active through Feb. 28.
Customers may submit a comment by e-filing through the PUC or sending a written comment at the address below. All comments should reference the docket number of the case: M-2023-3038060.
2023 Accomplishments: Cutting Red Tape
As 2024 kicks off, Senate Republicans will continue our work to cut red tape and improve the experience citizens have when they interact with their government and the agencies intended to help them.
Already this session, we have passed a bill that would improve government efficiency by authorizing the Pennsylvania Treasury Department to return unclaimed property without requiring the owners to search for it. Another legislative measure would ensure Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Medical Assistance benefits are not spent on the deceased.
For the Pennsylvanians who must apply for a permit, license or certification, another bill would require state agencies to create an accessible website to explain why a permit application was rejected and enable permit applicants to check their application status. It would also deem a permit, license or certification approved if the agency reviewing the application misses its deadline – giving Pennsylvanians far more predictability than they currently have. This change would also help to attract more business to the state and boost our economy by addressing unreasonable permit delays.
Property Tax Relief is Available for Homeowners
Most homes and farms are eligible for property tax reduction under the Homestead Tax Exemption program.
Under a homestead or farmstead property tax exclusion, the assessed value of each homestead or farmstead is reduced by the same amount before the property tax is computed.
To receive school property tax relief for tax years beginning July 1 or Jan. 1, an application for homestead or farmstead exclusions must be filed by the preceding March 1. School districts are required to notify homeowners by Dec. 31 of each year if their property is not approved for the homestead or farmstead exclusion or if their approval is due to expire. Learn more and find an application.
Protecting Against Hypothermia and Frostbite
While this winter has been relatively mild so far, colder weather could set in at any time. Brushing up on the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite can help you keep yourself and others safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers detailed information about warning signs and prevention.
Signs of hypothermia include shivering, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and confusion. In severe cases, hypothermia can lead to death. If someone is experiencing hypothermia, give them warm water and replace any wet clothing with dry layers. Seek medical attention if their body temperature is below 95 degrees.
Frostbite is an injury that can permanently damage the body and typically impacts the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. Symptoms include painful, unusually firm or waxy skin. If impacted, warm the affected area but do not apply pressure. Stay a safe distance from heat sources and know when to get medical care.
If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter please sign up here.