Senator Pittman E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Advances Key Education, School Safety Budget Priorities
  • Veterans Program at Penns Manor High School
  • Tubmill Creek Watershed Visit
  • Pennsylvania Senate Guest Chaplains
  • Veterans Breakfast in Punxsutawney
  • Funding for State-Related Universities Approved by Senate
  • Tax Revenues and PIT Collections Above Monthly Estimate
  • Loans Available for Businesses Creating and Retaining Jobs
  • Protect Yourself with Free Weekly Credit Reports
  • Recognizing National Child Safety and Protection Month

Senate Advances Key Education, School Safety Budget Priorities

The Senate in a bi-partisan way overwhelmingly passed legislation on Wednesday to support educational opportunities in our commonwealth. This legislation empowers parents, increases school safety, and helps to improve educational facilities. I am very proud we have come together in the Senate to move forward and help students.

House Bill 301 was approved by a 45-5 vote and allocates funding for several critical priorities that were included in the 2023-24 state budget, including:

  • $100 million for K-12 mental health programs.
  • An additional $150 million for education tax credits to provide scholarships to students through the existing Education Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs.
  • $295 million for Ready-to-Learn Block Grants.
  • More than $261 million for community colleges.
  • More than $76 million in special education funding for intermediate units.
  • $10 million to create a new Educator Pipeline Support Grant Program to provide grants to student teachers.
  • $46.5 million in reimbursements to school entities that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
  • More than $70 million in state aid to public libraries.
  • $14.5 million in funding for career and technical schools.
  • $7 million to assist distressed schools.

The bill would also ensure greater collaboration in keeping children safe in the classroom by consolidating school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), which currently manages the highly successful School Safety and Security Grant Program created by Senate Republicans in 2018.

Learn more about other ways the bill helps students and schools here.

Veterans Program at Penns Manor High School

It was my honor to attend the Veterans Day program at Penns Manor Area School District.

The students have done a wonderful job recognizing the service and sacrifice of our veterans not only during the program, but throughout the year with fundraising for local veteran programs and supporting those serving abroad with care packages.  

I appreciated the opportunity to take part in the program. Great job!

Tubmill Creek Watershed Visit

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy invited me to see firsthand the stream restoration and riparian tree planting work completed in Tubmill Creek Watershed. 

It was interesting to learn more about their other programs as well, which include land conversation & stewardship and the community greening program. 

Thank you for having me out in the field on a beautiful fall day!

Pennsylvania Senate Guest Chaplains

I had the distinct honor to welcome two Indiana County constituents to serve as guest chaplains in the Senate this week. 

Senior Pastor, Jack Lucas of Hilltop Baptist Church offered opening prayer for session on Monday and was accompanied by his Assistant Pastor, Steve Rearick. Pastor Lucas also serves our local community as a chaplain for law enforcement, firefighters and EMS.

Pastor Rob Sparr, Senior Pastor of Graystone Evangelical Presbyterian Church offered opening prayer for Tuesday’s session.  He was accompanied by his wife Heather for their visit to the Capitol. 

It was an honor to introduce and welcome the Pastors and guests to the Senate chamber!

Veterans Breakfast in Punxsutawney

State Rep. Brian Smith (R-66) and I had the great honor and pleasure to host a veterans breakfast at the VFW Post 2076 last week. 

This was a small token of our thanks and appreciation for the many sacrifices veterans have made while valiantly serving our country.  Thank you to all who attended – we enjoyed spending the morning with you!

Funding for State-Related Universities Approved by Senate

This week the Senate voted overwhelmingly to support funding and additional transparency for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities. These bills were signed into law on Thursday.

Under House Bill 1461, general support for Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University remain at the previous year’s levels. Lincoln University and Penn College of Technology will receive increases of more than $3.2 million.

In addition, the Senate approved House Bill 1556, which requires greater transparency from state-related universities. The bill ensures the institutions provide additional information in annual Right-to-Know Law filings, including information related to contracts, financial statements, faculty, compensation, enrollment, courses and meeting minutes.

According to existing law, funding in the bill is directed to provide tuition discounts for in-state students, and universities are required to meet strict financial reporting requirements as a condition of receiving the money. The leaders of the state-related universities support the funding bill.

Tax Revenues and PIT Collections Above Monthly Estimate

Each month, the Senate Appropriations Committee prepares an update about the state’s financial health. The most recent report shows that General Fund tax revenues were $118.6 million, or 3.9%, above the monthly estimate. However, total General Fund revenue collections for the first four months of the fiscal year are still below estimate by $47.5 million.

Personal Income Tax collections exceeded October’s estimate by $35.6 million, or 2.8%, but remain below estimate for the fiscal year by $77 million, or 1.5%.

The full update, including the monthly revenue report, is available here.

Loans Available for Businesses Creating and Retaining Jobs

Low-interest loans and lines of credit are available to eligible businesses that commit to creating and retaining full-time jobs and for the development of industrial parks and multi-tenant facilities.

The money can be used for land and building acquisitions, machinery and equipment purchases, working capital and accounts receivable lines of credit, multi-tenant facility projects and industrial park projects.

Learn more and apply online here.

Protect Yourself with Free Weekly Credit Reports

The three national credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – permanently extended a program allowing you to check your credit report at each agency once a week for free.

Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request free copies of your credit reports. Other sites may charge you or be fraudulent sites set up to steal your personal information.

By reviewing your credit report, you can easily discover if information has been mistakenly reported about you or if someone opened credit in your name. Reporting mistakes and identity theft can help you build a strong credit score that will benefit you when you need to borrow money, secure a rental home and even apply for a job.

Recognizing National Child Safety and Protection Month

National Child Safety and Protection Month is dedicated to recognizing the dangers children may face and taking steps to prevent those challenges.

We have passed bills to provide child identification kits to parents to help identify and return missing children and to allow parents to surrender their unharmed baby at participating urgent care centers.

Other bills would protect them on their way to school by increasing penalties for drivers who refuse to stop for school buses and extending and revamping the school bus stop arm automated enforcement program.

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