Sep. 14, 2017

PA House Balances Budget Without Higher Taxes

The House of Representatives again passed legislation this week to balance the state’s budget without digging deeper into taxpayers’ pockets and without adding new and higher taxes.

The legislation we passed would include a sale of a portion of the Tobacco Settlement money that currently comes into the state, along with reinvesting over $630 million in excess money, which has already been paid by taxpayers and is currently sitting in off-line accounts.

It is worth noting that the House passed a responsible budget on April 5, passed revenue legislation in the form of gaming expansion on April 4, and advanced wine and spirits privatization on April 25. So far, these proposals have been largely ignored by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The House does not support the tax increases on customers’ natural gas, electric, and telephone bills as passed by the Senate by a slim 26-24 margin on July 27. These tax increases would mean that every time a consumer takes a shower, turns on the stove, heats their home, picks up the phone, or simply flips a light switch, he or she will be paying additional taxes. The votes simply do not exist in the House for these taxes.

The measure now goes to the Senate for concurrence. For more information, visit

After the House passed House Bill 453, I addressed the media. Watch my comments by clicking here.
Coming Soon - Senior Health Fair/Flu Shot Clinic

I want to remind senior citizens to attend my Senior Health Fair/Flu Shot Clinic on Friday, Sept. 22, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Community College of Allegheny County North Campus. Free flu shots will be available, but you must make an appointment by calling 412-369-2230.

The Health Fair is a great opportunity for senior citizens and their families to access valuable information about programs for seniors, safety tips, health care, nutrition and various other state programs available to them.

During the event, seniors and their families can also receive assistance applying for many of the state-operated programs, such as PACE and PACENET prescription drug programs and Property Tax/Rent Rebates.

I welcome your questions about any state issues that are impacting you and our community. I look forward to meeting you. The Community College of Allegheny County North Campus is located at 8701 Perry Highway in Pittsburgh.
Oversight Needed at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Recently, I issued a statement regarding the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) and the preliminary report issued by Infrastructure Management Group.

The management failures at the PWSA have continued for too long. It is hard to fathom that 20 percent of the PWSA’s workforce is on disability leave. In addition, it is inconceivable that the authority loses 50 percent of its water as a result of leaks in the system. What have the city leaders’ done to remedy this deplorable situation? Oversight is needed to bring the system under control.

The House passed House Bill 1490 on June 8 by a unanimous vote. The legislation would place the PWSA under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission (PUC). Over the last year, local and national newspapers have recounted many service issues facing PWSA. They include multi-million dollar debt; uncollectible and unmetered accounts; incorrect billing; system leaks; and thousands of lead service lines, many of which have not been identified or located.
Helping Our Veterans

Legislation to help veterans and their spouses by enhancing their eligibility for state programs and services passed the House this week.

House Bill 980 would exempt 100 percent of a veteran’s federal disability compensation or pension from income calculations for any state program or benefit, such as the PACE and PACENET prescription drug programs of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

In addition, the legislation would extend the exclusion of the compensation benefits to the veteran’s unmarried surviving spouse.

The bill now goes to the state Senate.
Keeping Your Personal Info Safe

In light of recent news about a data break at Equifax, a national credit-reporting agency, residents are encouraged to learn more about identity theft and how to protect their information from being used fraudulently. The Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General is leading a national investigation into the data breach.

Consumers are urged to be proactive in monitoring their credit reports and financial account statements, such as credit cards and utilities, and in reporting any suspicious activity to the attorney general office’s hotline at 1-800-441-2555 or

The Federal Trade Commission has also provided, an identity theft prevention website.
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