Enhancing Education
Legislation Reintroduced to Support Career and Technical Education

Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Dauphin) and I have reintroduced legislation to provide career and technical education students with greater flexibility in fulfilling their graduation requirements.

The one-size-fits-all approach to education is outdated. Providing these additional routes for career and technical education students highlights the value of a variety of educational paths and careers.

House Bill 202 would allow a student who participates in a vocational education program (either in a vocational-technical school or in a school district) to demonstrate proficiency by completing locally established grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with the Keystone Exams. A student can also attain an industry-based competency certification related to the program of study or demonstrating a high likelihood of success on an approved industry-based competency assessment, such as the National Occupation Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI), the National Institute of Metalworkers Skills (NIMS), or readiness for continued meaningful engagement in the student’s program of study.

This bill is about looking at the big picture, and eliminating obstacles for students who are pursuing careers in fields that are in demand.
Enhancing Educational Opportunities

I have spearheaded legislation, House Bill 250, to enhance educational opportunities by allowing families to better choose the education paths for their children.

The legislation would increase the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $50 million (to $175 million) and the amount of tax credits available under the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program by $25 million (to $75 million).

Both programs are proven successes in the ability for private entities to donate toward approved scholarship programs. The EITC Program targets scholarship organizations, educational improvement organizations, and pre-kindergarten scholarship programs, while the OSTC program dedicates tax credits toward businesses that contribute to scholarship programs aimed specifically at students trapped in underperforming schools.

The legislation is now with the House Education Committee, where it is expected to come up for a vote early next week.
Budget Address 2017-18

The House and Senate will convene in a joint session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly on Tuesday, Feb. 7, to hear Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal for the third year of his administration.

My colleagues and I will be looking to study the details of the governor’s proposal, along with other ways the state can save taxpayer money and fund core functions of government in the most efficient ways possible.

For the past several years, the House has been able to meet budgetary needs while not relying on increases in broad-based taxes.

Watch the governor’s address live by logging onto pahousegop.com beginning at 11:30 a.m. The address is expected to begin closer to noon.
Veterans Assistance Available Feb. 10

If you’re a veteran looking for assistance, why not attend a free event at my district office in McCandless?

On Feb. 10, a representative from the American Legion will be at my office to help veterans and their families. Through this outreach, we are able to provide some direct links between our veterans and the services and programs available just for them.

An appointment must be made by calling 412-369-2230. Available times are 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.

Information can be found online at RepTurzai.com. My district office is located at 125 Hillvue Lane, first floor, in McCandless.
Tax Refunds Can Help Families Save for College

Need more cash for college? You can deposit your state income tax refund directly into an existing, tax-exempt Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program account. With the new option, all or a portion of a refund can be sent to one or multiple accounts.

When you complete the PA-40, Personal Income Tax Return, enter code “H” and the amount in the donation section between lines 32-36. Additionally, you can submit a PA-Schedule P with the return when donating to one or more Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program accounts. More information is available in the 2016 PA-40, Personal Income Tax Return Instructions.

You can open an account with as little as $15 or $25 depending on plan selection. Contributions are tax exempt, and when using plan withdrawals for qualified educational expenses, they are not subject to tax.

Visit PA529.com or call (800) 440-4000 to open or contribute to a PA 529 account.