In this Update:
Senate Approves Resolution Evaluating Success of School Safety Programs
Five years ago, I was one of the lead authors of a law that created Pennsylvania’s School Safety and Security Grant Program, formed the Safe2Say Something anonymous school threat reporting system, and created the School Safety and Security Committee under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The Senate approved a resolution I sponsored this week that will evaluate the success of these programs and consider ways to make them even more efficient and effective in the years ahead. My resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and provide recommendations regarding future potential legislative actions to further strengthen our existing school safety and security programs.
The study would not only evaluate programs in Pennsylvania, but also include a review of safety and security best practices in other states. I am hopeful this study and its recommendations will result in keeping kids safer in the classroom.
More details about this resolution are available here.
Senate Advances Key Education, School Safety Budget Priorities
The Senate approved budget implementation language that will drive out critical funding to schools and present a more streamlined approach to school safety.
House Bill 301 allocates funding for several critical priorities that were included in the 2023-24 state budget, including:
The bill would also ensure greater collaboration in keeping children safe in the classroom by consolidating school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), which currently manages the highly successful School Safety and Security Grant Program created by Senate Republicans in 2018.
Learn more about other ways the bill helps students and schools here.
Funding for State-Related Universities Approved by Senate
The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to support funding and additional transparency for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities. Because the House then also passed both bills, they are set for enactment.
Under House Bill 1461, general support for Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University would remain at the previous year’s levels. Lincoln University and Penn College of Technology would receive increases of more than $3.2 million.
In addition, the Senate approved House Bill 1556, which would require greater transparency from state-related universities. The bill would ensure the institutions provide additional information in its annual Right-to-Know Law filing, including information related to contracts, financial statements, faculty, compensation, enrollment, courses and meeting minutes.
According to existing law, funding in the bill is directed to provide tuition discounts for in-state students, and universities are required to meet strict financial reporting requirements as a condition of receiving the money. The leaders of the state-related universities support the funding bill.
Tax Revenues and PIT Collections Above Monthly Estimate
Each month, the Senate Appropriations Committee prepares an update about the state’s financial health. The most recent report shows that General Fund tax revenues were $118.6 million, or 3.9%, above the monthly estimate. However, total General Fund revenue collections for the first four months of the fiscal year are still below estimate by $47.5 million.
Personal Income Tax collections exceeded October’s estimate by $35.6 million, or 2.8%, but remain below estimate for the fiscal year by $77 million, or 1.5%.
The full update, including the monthly revenue report, is available here.
Protect Yourself with Free Weekly Credit Reports
The three national credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – permanently extended a program allowing you to check your credit report at each agency once a week for free.
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request free copies of your credit reports. Other sites may charge you or be fraudulent sites set up to steal your personal information.
By reviewing your credit report, you can easily discover if information has been mistakenly reported about you or if someone opened credit in your name. Reporting mistakes and identity theft can help you build a strong credit score that will benefit you when you need to borrow money, secure a rental home and even apply for a job.
Recognizing National Child Safety and Protection Month
National Child Safety and Protection Month is dedicated to recognizing the dangers children may face and taking steps to prevent those challenges.
During this legislative session, we have passed several bills to keep kids safe, including a bill I am sponsoring with my colleague Senator Camera Bartolotta to help identify and return missing children.
Other bills would protect them on their way to school by increasing penalties for drivers who refuse to stop for school buses and extending and revamping the school bus stop arm automated enforcement program.
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.