|Wolf Vetoes EITC Expansion – It’s a Disservice to PA Families
This week, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed my legislation that would have expanded Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program to help meet the overwhelming demand among students and parents.
The governor’s veto is a step backwards for education in Pennsylvania. Families should have the choice the best suits the individual needs of each child.
House Bill 800 would have increased the amount of tax credits available under the EITC program by $100 million. It also would have increased the household income limit by $10,000, allowing more middle-class families to benefit from the scholarships. In addition, once a student qualifies, he or she would have remained eligible for the program through high school graduation, regardless of changes to family income.
I feel as many families as possible should be able to obtain these scholarships. Pennsylvania dedicated a record $32 billion in state and local taxes to funding public education in the 2018-19 school year so we are not neglecting our public schools. What we have neglected to provide is adequate support for those families who are looking for an alternative.
Each scholarship student who would otherwise attend a public school saves their home district some portion of that money. Even under the lowest reasonable estimates for school savings and alternative public school attendance, school districts will save $3,000 for each scholarship the state provides.
An aggregate analysis estimates that Pennsylvania has saved at least $3 billion since the EITC program began in 2001, with most of those savings realized by the school districts themselves.
Click here to read an article written by the Wall Street Journal. They agree with me; the governor’s veto is a disservice to Pennsylvania families.
Energize PA is Beneficial to All Pennsylvanians
Recently, I traveled to Susquehanna County to talk about Energize PA, our pro-growth, pro-jobs legislation that will create family-sustaining jobs without taxing the job creators and residents. Click here to find out more about this outstanding initiative.
Speaking to the PA Pipe Trades Association
This week, I had a lively discussion with the Pennsylvania State Pipe Trades Association. We discussed two bills approved by the House. House Bill 1170 would require employers in the construction industry to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure that they do not hire individuals not authorized to work in the United States.
Also, House Bill 716 would address unethical employers that often misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to save money. This practice robs workers of the pay and benefits that they have earned. It also creates an uneven playing field for law-abiding businesses.
Both bills have been sent to the Senate for consideration.
Visiting with Two Outstanding Groups
This week, I had a great discussion with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Anti-Defamation League during their Advocacy Day at the Capitol. I spoke to the groups about our state budget, my recent trip to Israel and anti-Semitic crimes.
Taxpayers Deserve Better Budgeting Practices
Respecting the taxpayers who foot the bill for the annual state budget, House Republicans took the lead this week in adopting several measures to bring more transparency to the budget process.
To help limit “supplemental” spending beyond what is approved in each year’s budget, House Bill 855 would require the secretary of the budget to project revenue shortfalls for the fiscal year starting in December and put that amount of money in budgetary reserve to ensure the budget is balanced at the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, House Bill 923 would require the governor to explain the reasons for any supplemental spending requests and offer recommendations for cost-savings or other reforms to address the cause.
Other reform measures would require the administration to provide additional details as part of the governor’s proposed budget (House Bill 922); require quarterly reports on funding committed and awarded through special funds that provide grants and subsidies (House Bill 921); and update budget procedures related to unspent appropriations and how those amounts are dealt with at the close of a fiscal year (House Bill 920).
The bills are part of the House Republican Caucus’ #GovtDoneRight initiative and now go to the Senate for consideration. To learn more, click here.
Victim Protection Bills Head to the Governor’s Desk
Public safety is a core function of government. In support of crime victims, my House Republican colleagues and I are taking action to strengthen the protections for victims of crime.
Just as those accused of a crime have certain rights, we need to ensure crime victims are treated with dignity and respect throughout the entire criminal justice process.
I support a series of bills that strengthen the rights of crime victims including:
• House Bill 502 would better protect crime victims from abuse and violence by helping those who are victimized to testify against and confront their abusers
• House Bill 504 would shield rape victims from irrelevant cross examination.
• House Bill 276, a joint resolution known as Marsy’s Law, would add a victim’s bill of rights to the Pennsylvania Constitution. This question will appear on the ballot for this Nov.’s General Election.
• Senate Bill 479 would help young abuse victims by expanding the Tender Years Exception for out-of-court statements to include additional serious sexual offenses.
• Senate Bill 469 would amend the Crime Victims Act to better provide information and compensation to victims.
Victims should not be treated as criminals. They deserve the protection of our criminal justice system and the tools to help them confront and testify against their abusers.
This package of legislation was approved in both the House and Senate and is now on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
Boosting PA Agriculture, Dairy Farmers
The focus on supporting our state’s top industry continued this week with House approval of several bills to help carry on our agriculture traditions for future generations and a Capitol rally in support of two federal bills aimed to boost the dairy industry.
The House gave overwhelming approval to measures that would ensure a quick state-level response to threats such as invasive species or disease; establish the Dairy Investment Program to provide grants to support dairy farmers; create a Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to help farmers develop a business plan, transition plan or succession plan; enhance youth exposure to opportunities in the agriculture industry; and empower the State Conservation Commission to provide technical assistance and financing options for implementing best management practices.
We also approved bills that would boost enrollment in the veteran farmer Homegrown by Heroes program, provide specialty crop block grants and aid with meat inspection costs for small or new processors.
Also on Tuesday, dairy farmers and advocates from across the Commonwealth gathered in the Capitol rotunda to rally support for two bills pending action in Congress that would help the dairy industry as well as our children.
The “Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019” would allow flavored and unflavored whole milk to be offered in school cafeterias to give students more choice, while the Dairy PRIDE Act would protect the integrity of dairy products by calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce existing labeling requirements for milk. Essentially, non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds and plants could no longer be marketed as milk, yogurt or cheese.
The rally followed a meeting of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. We heard from two members of the state’s congressional delegation about the bills and also unanimously approved resolutions endorsing the measures.
I want to warn residents of a scam targeting property tax or rent rebate recipients.
We were notified of a scam that consists of unsolicited calls from a person claiming to work for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. The caller says an application for property tax or rent rebate has been approved and then asks if the recipient would like the rebate directly deposited into a bank account - and asks for his or her bank information.
THIS IS A SCAM! The Department of Revenue does not make live calls regarding property tax or rent rebate applications and does not collect applicant banking deposit information over the phone.
If you received one of these calls and provided your banking information or other personal information, immediately call your bank to make them aware of this potential fraud.
Additionally, you can file a scam complaint with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-441-2555 or by visiting attorneygeneral.gov.
Fun for All ages Awaits at PA Fairs
Summer has officially arrived, and that means it’s also Pennsylvania fair season. From June through September, communities across the Commonwealth will host more than 100 fairs featuring food, fun and entertainment as well as competitive exhibits highlighting animals, produce, crops, crafts, baking and more.
To make your fair planning easier, the Department of Agriculture is offering an interactive Fair Guide this year that will allow you to search for your favorite events through the “Find Fairs Near Me” tool or filters that narrow down fairs by county, month or date.
Click here to use the interactive tool.