House Passes Fiscally Responsible State Budget
6/28/2019
‘Standing Up For Taxpayers’ - House Passes Fiscally Responsible State Budget

 

On Tuesday, the House passed a new state budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year without any new or increased taxes or fees. My overriding goal with this budget is to make sure it responds to the needs of our communities, from increasing the amount of money our local schools will receive to helping our agriculture industry. Together with a growing national economy and higher-than-expected revenues, we’ve been able to make smart financial decisions that have allowed us to prioritize funding for critical programs that benefit our residents.

When the House Republican Caucus regained the majority following the 2010 election, we set forth a vision focused on growing the economy to provide private sector, family-sustaining jobs.

We also knew that we had to provide important investments in education, such as legislation I authored increasing the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $25 million. In addition, we added funding for our most vulnerable - like those with individual disabilities - while still respecting the hard-working families paying taxes.

We remained steadfast in our promises and we delivered. Under my tenure as majority leader and now speaker of the House, our caucus has advanced a pro-growth agenda that has resulted in this year’s historic surplus, allowing us to make needed investments while protecting taxpayers.

This is a win-win for everyone.

As this year’s budget shows, growing the economy is the key. We remain committed to improving the lives of our hard-working families and creating opportunity for each Pennsylvanian.

 
                                   
It was my pleasure to sign the 2019-20 state budget. It’s a budget that features no new taxes, no tax increases and no additional fees, continuing a multi-year effort that has resulted in increased revenues for the Commonwealth.
 
 
UPMC, Highmark Reach 10-Year Deal


This week, officials with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Highmark/Allegheny Health Network reached a 10-year agreement that will allow their patients to continue to receive health care services, regardless of their insurance network. A consent agreement between the two was set to expire on Sunday, June 30.

The issue is one that we have paid close attention to over the past several years. I am pleased to see that both sides are now able to give their customers and patients greater certainty and predictability in their important health care decisions.

House Republicans and I have been involved in the UPMC-Highmark issue since 2011. As majority leader, I organized hearings in Pittsburgh and Erie to solicit input on the impact of the dispute between these integrated health care organizations.

The Pittsburgh region now has the second-lowest health care costs among the 30 largest metropolitan areas, while the world-class care provided has dramatically improved over the past two decades.

We have always contended that the competition between UPMC and Highmark/Allegheny Health Network has brought our region improvements in health care quality, as well as reduced health insurance costs. My hope is that this agreement will maintain these benefits while ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have access to the life-saving care they need.
 
 
Impact Fee Revenues Hit Record High


 

Pennsylvania has realized significant benefits from oil and gas production in Pennsylvania. For example, the industry contributes $45 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy, provides more than 300,000 family-sustaining jobs in the state, generates billions of dollars in bonus and royalty payments for Pennsylvania landowners, and provides significant reductions in air emissions, helping Pennsylvania meet Clean Power Plan goals ahead of schedule and without government interference.

This has been a record year for impact fee revenues in Pennsylvania. Click here to read an outstanding article authored by Laura Legere, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on how oil and gas production is benefitting the Commonwealth.
 
 
Rochester Road Slide Project


 
PennDOT informs me that they are planning a landslide repair project on Rochester Road in Franklin Park.

A landslide has occurred in the western lane over a length of approximately 100 feet. A Geotechnical treatment of Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) slope will be applied within the failed areas. Roadway reconstruction will also be applied within the failure area.

Construction is set to begin in July and be completed by September. The road will be closed, and traffic will be detoured during construction. The detour will utilize Wexford Bayne Road to Nicholson Road.

Please be cautious when traveling in this area.
 
 
Growing Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Industry

Agriculture is the number one industry in Pennsylvania. The revenue from agriculture alone makes our support of the industry and our commitment to its growth and prosperity important to both the economy and Pennsylvania’s position as a leader among states.

The General Assembly has approved a comprehensive package of bills that will help Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry grow and thrive.

The initiatives, which are now awaiting the governor’s signature to become law, aim to protect the Commonwealth’s food supply and animal health, and combat threats to both crops and livestock; assist farmers with the cost and expertise to further implement best management practices on their farms; support the dairy industry; educate young people about the importance of agriculture; and prepare the next generation of farmers.

Click here for more information on this package of bills.

Our state budget proposal will see additional increases in agriculture funding by $19.5 million or 12.7%. Recognizing the importance of animal health, new line items devote $2 million to the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission and $1 million to livestock and consumer health. Also, the state budget proposal restores funding for programs eliminated by the governor’s proposal, including agricultural research; agricultural promotion, education and exports; hardwoods research and promotion; and the livestock and open dairy shows.
 


 

It was a great scene during a press conference at the Capitol. My colleagues had a milkshake toast to celebrate the passage of a package of bills to benefit the state’s agriculture industry. The bills are on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
                                     
 
Fish for Free on Independence Day

This week, the House approved legislation that would help health care professionals identify and treat patients who previously overdosed on opioids.

The bill would require first responders and hospital personnel to record the use of Narcan, Naloxone or any other opioid overdose agent in the patient’s record in a state database.

Both residents and non-residents are eligible. Just make sure you follow all other fishing regulations.

For your convenience, there are even opportunities to borrow equipment from certain sites at state parks and other locations. You can find those locations by clicking here.
                            
 
House Approves Additional Legislation to Help Fight Opioid Epidemic


This week, the House approved legislation that would help health care professionals identify and treat patients who previously overdosed on opioids.

The bill would require first responders and hospital personnel to record the use of Narcan, Naloxone or any other opioid overdose agent in the patient’s record in a state database.

Narcan and Naloxone are medications designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.

In 2014, Pennsylvania enacted a law creating a state database to track opioid prescriptions. This bill would ensure the use of Narcan and Naloxone would show up on a patient’s record in that database.                                    

House Bill 1005 now heads to the Senate for consideration.
 
 
Increasing Lottery Profits for Seniors


 
This week, the House approved legislation to increase lottery profits by lowering the rate of return of lottery games. The increased profits would go to the programs for seniors that are funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Act 201 of 2014 reduced the mandated rate of return from 27% to 25%. This relief gave the lottery the ability to update products in order to meet consumer demand and maximize profits for programs benefiting older Pennsylvanians.

House Bill 956 would temporarily reduce the rate of return to 20% for the next five fiscal years until June 30, 2024.

The lottery sets the game payouts based on the statutorily mandated rate of return months in advance. By changing the mandated rate of return now, it provides the lottery with the ability to prepare the future game portfolio to maximize profits.

House Bill 956 now goes to the Senate for consideration.