Below are some important Harrisburg updates that may be helpful to you.
To say it’s been an interesting 2019-20 Session would be an understatement. It’s been challenging at times, but as we closed our session last week, I think it’s important to look back and know that as elected officials, our duty never ends to those who elect us, and just because the formal session is ending, doesn’t mean that we stop working for you. As we close the books on 2020, I look forward to continuing to serve you as your Senator in the 24th District in 2021.
Last week, the House and Senate were both in session to complete the work of closing out the FY 2020-2021 budget. As you recall, aside from a few line items, we only provided funding for five months back in May, in order to more accurately project our revenues and spending in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, many projections had us at a significant deficit, projected to be between $2 billion and $4 billion.
The final budget, while slimmer than we would hope, mostly funds programs at their 2019-20 levels, and could always change as we await word from Washington on if we’ll receive any more federal aid.
- The final budget authorizes $35.5 billion with no need for a tax increase or increased debt.
- This is down roughly $760 million (2.1%) from last year.
- This represents a 9.8% decrease in operating expenses originally proposed in the Governor’s budget.
- Even though spending is down, we increase money to fund our roadways by $125 million.
- Provides an additional $200 million in school property tax relief.
- Utilized roughly $530 million in transfers from funds to avoid tax and fee increases.
Along with the budget, there were other notable bills that we passed out of the Senate last week. On the education side, Senate Bill 1216 allows for temporary teacher certificates, waiving of certain skill exam requirements, delays the Keystone exams, requires the Department of Education to seek waivers for Federal Assessments, and provides payments and clarity regarding pupil transportation.
As for legislation aimed at assisting the community, House Bill 777 allows for online fundraising for clubs and volunteer fire companies and allows them to use the 60 percent of Small Games of Chance money to cover general operating expenses of the club, including rent, payroll, and utilities. House Bill 916 includes multiple reforms regarding DUI laws aimed at reducing recidivism and allowing individuals trapped in cycles where they cannot pay fines to get their license back a path forward.
In an effort to help our environment and businesses, House Bill 1808 Consists of advanced recycling legislation that is aimed at providing credits to companies who recycle plastics usually thrown away that many current recycling facilities can’t process.
House Bill 1737 provides liability assistance for health care providers, manufacturers of PPEs, schools, universities, and business and government service providers if a person or entity follows or followed public health directives established by federal or state governments.
While the budget is complete, our focus is still to work together to bring Pennsylvania back from the COVID-19 pandemic in a responsible, safe, and effective way. As I mentioned above, this fight never stops.
If you’re interested, you can sign up to receive my newsletters that contain the most up to date information on statewide and local issues 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