Below are some important Harrisburg updates that may be helpful to you.
This week in Harrisburg, the House was in session Tuesday and Wednesday following the July 4th holiday weekend. While it was a relatively quiet week, there was still some movement on an environmental bill as well as some sour news in terms of our Commonwealth’s financial picture for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
First, the not so good news out of Harrisburg as it relates to our financial picture. According to the Department of Revenue, our revenue collections were roughly $3.2 billion short of the estimates for the year. Specifically, tax revenue collections for the fiscal year decreased by $3.3 billion compared to the estimate. Not that it makes it any better, but it is estimated that due to tax filing extensions until the 15th of July, up to $1.9 billion of that could be received in the coming month or so. So, it goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with looming financial challenges in the months and year ahead. For a more detailed description of our finances, you can read the Monthly Report for July from the Senate Appropriations Chair, Senator Pat Browne of Lehigh County.
On Wednesday, the House passed, with bipartisan support, HB 2025 which would require the DEP to conduct a public comment process on and submit to the General Assembly for approval a revenue-generating tax or fee on carbon dioxide emissions, specifically the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). While the Governor issued an Executive Order directing DEP to bring plans to join RGGI, the eventual statutory changes would have to come from the Legislature, so it makes sense that we should be part of the process. Given Pennsylvania is already ahead of the carbon dioxide reduction goals established under Governor Wolf’s Climate Action Plan, why would we want to jeopardize thousands of Pennsylvania jobs and trigger significant higher electricity rate increases when the existing competitive market has already achieved these gains?
Lastly, I encourage you to continue to stay calm and safe in whichever way you can as we ride this out together. I have been sending out newsletters almost daily with the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 with specific information related to our area. If you’re interested, you can sign up to receive these newsletters on my website, senatormensch.com. You can also keep an eye on my website for news releases, email me with questions or concerns, or find contact information for my district offices which you can get in touch with if you need anything.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 215-541-2388.
Senator Bob Mensch
24th Senatorial District