In this Update:
Senate Concludes Hearings on State Budget
The Senate Appropriations Committee this week concluded four weeks of public hearings on the proposed 2022-23 state budget.
Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion budget that would increase spending by $4.5 billion. Based on projections, this will create a $1.3 billion deficit in the following fiscal year and produce a $13 billion deficit by FY 2026-27.
During this week’s hearing for the state Department of Labor and Industry, I expressed my concern that my staff has been unable to call the department to discuss and resolve constituent unemployment compensation (UC) issues, which was something they could do prior to the pandemic. Currently, all UC issues must be submitted to the department via an online system. It’s time for the department to return to the original model of legislative service.
Also, this past week I discussed with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education the issue of the allocated monies used to defer retrenchments at integrated schools. I noted the sacrifices some universities have made to implement the redesign plan to save struggling schools in the system.
I asked Adjutant General Mark Schindler during the budget hearing for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) why Junior ROTC programs in Pennsylvania high schools are diminishing. I also asked about the DMVA’s cybersecurity efforts.
During the Department of Drug and Alcohol Program’s budget hearing, I requested from Secretary Jen Smith more details about the $1.78 billion opioid settlement.
And during this week’s hearing with Pennsylvania Department of General Services, I relayed my concerns to Secretary Topper about PA’s small business reserve program and asked for concrete solutions moving forward. I also asked what can be done about the state’s excess inventory of buildings, specifically those related to the State System of Higher Education.
The Senate will use findings from the hearings to craft an alternative spending plan to the governor’s, with the aim of enacting a final 2022-23 state budget by the June 30 constitutional deadline.
You can find video and recaps of every budget hearing at PASenateGOP.com.
How to Protect Yourself Against Tick-Borne Diseases
Lyme disease and the rare but dangerous Deer Tick Virus (DTV) have been found in ticks at high levels for the first time in multiple locations around the state.
The Deer Tick Virus is rare in the United States, but positive cases have increased in recent years. Initial symptoms of a DTV infection may include fever, headache, vomiting and weakness. Some people who are infected with DTV experience no symptoms, and therefore infection may go undetected. However, 91% of patients treated for DTV infections develop severe neuroinvasive disease.
Recommended precautions for anyone venturing outdoors include:
For more information about tickborne disease prevention, visit Department of Health’s Tickborne Diseases website.
Access Nursing Home Inspections Online
Pennsylvanians with loved ones in long-term care can access a searchable database of nursing homes to view the results of inspections and complaint investigations.
The database includes patient care surveys, building safety surveys, size of the nursing home, type of ownership and additional information about each of the nursing homes in the state. The Department of Health oversees 688 nursing homes with more than 88,000 beds.
If you see something that may jeopardize patients’ safety or well-being, you can file an anonymous complaint by calling 1-800-254-5164, filling out an online form, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sending a letter in the mail.
March is National Kidney Month
More than 37 million people in the United States are estimated to have chronic kidney disease and nearly 90% of them are unaware.
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you are at higher risk for developing kidney disease. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has useful information during National Kidney Month and year-round.
Pinning Ceremony Held for SPC Richard Stancombe, U.S. Army, Retired
Earlier this week, state Rep. Jim Struzzi and I had the great honor of meeting SPC Richard Stancombe during a Vietnam-era Pinning Ceremony.
A Pinning Ceremony honors Vietnam War veterans for their heroic service and pays tribute to their selfless contributions.
Mr. Stancombe was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967, fought in Vietnam for a year and earned three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his service. He shared with us his impressive display of medals, certificates and recognitions he has collected over the years.
It was our great pleasure to recognize his service and sacrifice to our great nation during the Vietnam War.
We greatly appreciate and thank Mr. Stancombe for his service as well as ALL who bravely serve our country, both past and present!