This e-newsletter includes an important update on the state budget impasse. Please review it and share your thoughts via the survey linked below.
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In this Edition:
My Latest Op-Ed on the Budget Impasse
My Latest Op-Ed on the Budget Impasse
For your convenience, I have provided a copy of my latest op-ed on the budget impasse which was sent out yesterday. I encourage you to review the op-ed and share your thoughts with me by completing my online survey. Thank you again for your time and attention to this very important matter. My op-ed is below:
The most significant hurdle to enacting a state budget and relieving the burden on social service agencies stripped of funding is our very own governor.
In March, I sat alongside my colleagues on the bipartisan Senate Appropriations Committee for three weeks of budget hearings and listened to every state department’s financial needs. In the following months, I worked hard to pass a budget that addressed the needs of my constituents and Pennsylvanians. The General Assembly passed a budget in June, without tax increases, along with an essential pension reform bill and a revised balanced school funding formula. Yet Governor Wolf vetoed it all, including the 70 percent of lines items – many for essential social services – for which there was agreement between Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature.
He then began calling for “compromise.” When we answered his calls, we found the talks to be rather discouraging. For example, he claimed that the vetoed budget, which included a $100 million increase in basic education, did not provide enough education funding. When we agreed to increase the funding to his request of $400 million -- in return for his approval of a revised pension reform bill -- he responded by demanding more money. That’s when I finally grew weary of his calls for “compromise.”
The governor’s budget proposal does not work. He continues to demand an increase in sales and income taxes that would result in $4.7 billion in new taxes for residents and businesses. His proposal would raise taxes by $12 billion over the next two fiscal years – an additional $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Pennsylvania.
These permanent tax hikes are supposed to be in return for reductions in local property taxes. However, the administration’s own data suggest that under the governor’s proposal, residents in 401 of the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania will end up paying about 150 percent of the taxes they now pay.
In addition, he refuses to acknowledge that the state pension deficit is the leading cause of increased property taxes and is depriving schools of education dollars.
Seven in 10 Pennsylvania school districts reported they plan to raise local property taxes for 2015-16, with rising pension payments the single most common reason for the tax hikes. In the near future, one out of three dollars sent to school districts will be diverted from classrooms to pay the pension liability.
Unfortunately, Governor Wolf has demonstrated that he believes the answer to these problems is taxing and spending more, not reform.
At this point it is impossible to ignore the fact that the budget impasse is being sustained by the governor – not the General Assembly. Despite this temporary roadblock, my colleagues and I will continue to stand firm against the governor’s demands and to follow the voices of our constituents.
Coffee with Your Senator Sept. 17
My next “Coffee with Your Senator” is days away! The event will be held on September 17th at the Quakertown Municipal Building located at 35 North 3rd Street in Quakertown from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Constituents will have the opportunity to enjoy light refreshments with me as we discuss state-related matters and questions.
Please RSVP by calling 215-541-2388 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Constituents are encouraged to stop by as they are able. Attendance for the entirety of the event is not required.
Child Protection Background Check Seminar
Senator Mensch attended the ground breaking ceremony for the new Kiddie Academy day care in Milford Township near Quakertown. Gorski Engineering Inc. of Collegeville will be constructing the facility. From left are Realtor Mike Golarz of Colliers International; Tom Klee, senior vice president of QNB Bank; PA State Rep. Craig Staats; Mike Zion and daughter Andrea Zion, who is owner and director of the Kiddie Academy under construction; Andrea’s daughter, Sara Claussen; Senator Mensch; and Jerry Gorski, president of Gorski Engineering, builder and developer.
Protect Yourself, Protect Your Money
Constituents are invited to attend my “Protect Yourself, Protect Your Money” seminar on Friday, November 13, which will feature special guest speaker Katrina Boyer, Consumer Outreach Liaison, at the Pennsylvania Department of Banking. Ms. Boyer will discuss some of the top financial scams targeting consumers and investors, including how to identify a Ponzi scheme, home improvement scams and affinity fraud.
The event will take place at 10 a.m. at St. Luke Knolls located at 1 Knoll Lane, Gilbertsville, PA. This event is free and open to the public. RSVP by calling 215-541-2388.
We have additional events in the 24th district that are fast approaching. Simply visit the events page on my website or call my Red Hill office at 215-541-2388 to find out if there are any events that pertain to you and your interests.
Senator Mensch joined Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin for a tour at Almac Clinical Services in Souderton. Read the more about the visit here.
Outreach Opportunities at My Red Hill District Office
I encourage you to review the list of organizations that will be visiting my Red Hill district office in the near future to offer their assistance and services at a location closer to you. Please be sure to review the instructions on how to set up an appointment with the individuals listed below:
PA CareerLink of Montgomery County – Veterans Employment
Robert Clark, Veterans Employment Representative, from the PA CareerLink of Montgomery County will be available on September 23 and October 28 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at my Red Hill office to offer employment services to veterans who have any of the six significant barriers to employment (SBE).
The DVOP 6 Significant Barriers (SBE) are listed as:
Constituents are required to contact Robert Clark at 610-270-3429 x227 or by email at email@example.com to set up an appointment at the office and fulfill screening requirements.
Montgomery County Veterans Affairs
Jamie Waite, Service Officer, for the Montgomery County Veterans Affairs office will be available on October 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at my Red Hill office to offer assistance to veterans. Jamie Waite can assist veterans, their dependents, and survivors regarding their rights and the various county, state, and federal benefits they may be entitled to receive and assists them to apply for these benefits. In addition, she can screen for presumptive conditions that veterans can claim for disability, provide eligibility information on VA healthcare and more.
Constituents are required to call Jamie Waite at 610-278-3285 to set up an appointment.
US Senator Pat Toomey
Imani Johnson, Field Representative for Southeastern Pennsylvania, from the office of US Senator Pat Toomey will be available on October 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at my Red Hill office to offer assistance on federal issues or with federal agencies, such as Veterans Administration, social security and the IRS.
Constituents are encouraged to call 215-241-1090 or email Imani at Imani_Johnson@toomey.senate.gov to set up an appointment. Walk-ins will also be welcome. Constituents are required to complete a privacy release form prior to meeting with Imani Johnson.
Thank You to Intern Danielle Marino!
Danielle Marino, from East Greenville, interned at my Red Hill office throughout the summer and we recognized her last day on August 12. Danielle will be entering her junior year at Arcadia College. Special thanks to Danielle for all of her hard work and we wish her best of luck on her future endeavors.
Watch Out for Variations of an IRS ScamPlease be aware of new variations of a scam in which con artists pose as officials with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as they attempt to defraud taxpayers.
According to the state Attorney General’s Office, these “imposter” scams come through telephones and emails. Those responsible for the scam allege the person owes money to the IRS. Here are some variations of the scam that consumers should be cautious of:
These con artists may seem legitimate by referencing a consumer’s personal information that is not publicly available. Sometimes this information may have been stolen from companies which suffered data breaches.
Consumers that they should remain calm and verify their tax status directly with the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040. You should also report these IRS scam calls or emails to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at the following link.
This type of criminal activity should also be reported to local law enforcement. Police then have the information to warn local residents to be on the lookout for these scams. For more information or to report any scam, contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555.
The Mensch Report
This edition of the Mensch Report from 2013 features Last Chance Ranch and the Bucks County SPCA. While this taping may be a couple of years old, it still does a great job highlighting these two prominent shelters in Bucks County. Join me again for a tour of these two organizations. You can view it here.
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