In this Update:
Update on the State Budget on “Face The State”
Pennsylvania’s budget remains in limbo following House passage of a spending plan that the Senate did not agree to. We still have much work left to create and implement a budget that meets the needs of our communities and taxpayers.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Pittman sent a letter to House Majority Leader Bradford urging him to provide a timeline on when the House will reconvene to complete its role in the budget process.
Last Sunday, I appeared on Face the State and several other TV and radio news features to discuss the current impasse and how we can move forward.
One of the biggest hurdles in negotiations is Governor Shapiro’s plan to eliminate PASS scholarships from the budget after he previously supported this program. This decision is heartbreaking for the thousands of families who could benefit from this program.
No matter how this budget process is resolved, we will not stop fighting to expand learning opportunities to help kids trapped in failing public schools.
Expanding the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
In an effort to provide more financial relief for low-income seniors, the Senate passed legislation to increase the income eligibility and amount of rebates for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. I’m very pleased this bipartisan bill will put money back in the pockets of those who need it most.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. House Bill 1100 will expand this program to help homeowners and renters with household income of up to $45,000. Previously, the income limit was $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
In addition, the bill ties income limits to inflation. This will ensure no senior or disabled Pennsylvanian will ever lose eligibility solely based on small cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security.
Beware of Student Loan Scam Robocalls and Robotexts
Following the Supreme Court decision regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s student loan forgiveness program, scammers are likely to attempt to use the program to make their misleading robocalls and robotexts seem more legitimate.
Common scams pretend to be from the “student loan forgiveness center” or from a state “forgiveness center.” Other messages reference a “settlement” with the U.S. Department of Education that entitles the recipient to “fully discharge” their student loan obligations. Incoming communications may also fraudulently reflect seemingly legitimate caller ID information to convince consumers to respond.
Learn more, including how to spot a scam and what to do if you are a target, here.
Purple Star School Program Supports Military-Connected Children
Thanks to legislation sponsored by Senate Republicans, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) launched the Purple Star School Program.
The program encourages schools to support the children of service members on active duty and in the National Guard and Reserves as they transition to a new school due to a parent’s change in duty station. Public and non-public schools can receive the Purple Star Award from PDE if they demonstrate their commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.
Pennsylvania now joins 37 other states that offer this designation. Schools can learn more and apply for the Purple Star School designation here.
Celebrate National Ice Cream Day on PA’s Ice Cream Trail
Sunday, July 16, is National Ice Cream Day – a wonderful time to enjoy Pennsylvania’s Ice Cream Trail at a great creamery.
With locations across the state, you’re sure to find an ice cream destination in your area. They’re often family-owned and support the local community by using locally sourced, high-quality ingredients.
From cones to milkshakes to sundaes to soft serve, there are so many delicious ice cream confections to try. Check out the interactive map of more than 40 locations here, and learn about the creameries and what they offer here.
If you have a question about the information in this e-newsletter or other state related matters that you would like a response to, please click HERE to submit your inquiry through my website. This will help to ensure that we are able to respond to your question in a timely fashion due to the high volume of emails and the ever growing amount of computer generated spam mail we receive daily.