In this Update:
This Week’s Survey Question
Please take a moment to answer this week’s survey question.
Over the past decade, there has been a 66 percent decline in the number of Pennsylvanians seeking to become licensed teachers in the Commonwealth. As one way to address the teacher shortage, a proposal has been introduced and is moving through the legislative process that would make it easier for out-of-state teachers to earn their license to teach in the state. Would you support such a measure?
Mensch Bill Establishing Pennsylvania Chief Nursing Officer Approved by Senate
HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) establishing the position of Pennsylvania Chief Nursing Officer was approved this week by the state Senate.
“Registered nurses play a crucial role in the delivery of health care across the commonwealth. They are the largest professional group in Pennsylvania, yet lack adequate representation in policy decision-making in Harrisburg,” Mensch said.
“It is long overdue that the General Assembly and governor include registered nurses and other members of the health delivery team in health policy decisions,” said Mensch. “I believe this legislation is an important step in improving outcomes in Pennsylvania health care.”
Senate Bill 848 will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senator Mensch speaks upon House Bill 337 (Former SB773) in the Senate Transportation Committee
“I understand that addiction is something we need to deal with, but the person that who is addicted also has a certain responsibility, to try to correct their own lives.”
Women’s State Wrestling Championships- Capitol Event
This week in session I welcomed three young women from my district whom won State Wrestling Champion titles, Savannah Witt, Trinity Monaghan and Xiyah Robinson. We recognized the efforts and dedication that led these amazing athletes in achieving the title of state champions, within women’s wrestling. We are grateful for the opportunity to introduce these young women and their families to our Senate and Assembly colleagues, and to help celebrate such a memorable and remarkable accomplishment.
Savannah Witt Intro
Trinity Monaghan Intro
Xiyah Robinson Intro
Victory Brinker, Opera finalist on season 16 of America’s Got Talent sings for the Senate
This week in session, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward introduces special guest, 10-year-old Victory Brinker. Victory not only holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s youngest opera singer, but she also was one of the top 10 finalist on season 16 of America’s Got Talent. Thank you for the great performance Victory, a bright future awaits you!
Children First, PA-Thank You Event
I am honored to have been recognized this week by Children First, PA. This organization works to improve the lives of children in our region, advocating for education, health care, and family stability.
Thank you for all that you do for our children in our communities.
Declining Revenue Projections Highlight the Risk of Gov. Wolf’s Budget Plan
The state Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released its initial revenue estimate for 2022-23 and warns that tax revenue is likely to fall in the coming fiscal year. The IFO’s projection for General Fund revenue next year is $42.26 billion – about an 11.5% drop from 2021-22.
The new numbers further highlight the risk of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed state budget and emphasize what Senate Republicans have been saying all along: the governor’s bloated spending plan is unrealistic and unsustainable. His plan to increase spending by more than $4.5 billion next year would come at the expense of Pennsylvania’s long-term financial security.
The new figures from the IFO build on previous analysis that shows the potential for Gov. Wolf’s $45.7 billion budget to create multi-billion-dollar deficits for years to come.
As the June 30 deadline for enacting a state budget approaches, Senate Republicans will work to draft a more responsible plan that protects taxpayers already struggling with staggering inflation and an uncertain financial future.
Senate Acts to Improve Access to Property Tax and Rent Rebates
The Senate acted to close a loophole that made many senior citizens ineligible for the state Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The problem arose when senior citizens transferred retirement funds into other retirement accounts, which would show up as available income on an application and make the individual ineligible for help lowering their property taxes.
Senate Bill 230 would allow retirees to transfer those retirement account investments between accounts within 60 days without counting toward income when applying for property tax or rent relief. If those funds are not invested into another qualified retirement plan within 60 days, the funds will be considered income.
PUC Offers Tips for Dealing with June Electric Rate Hikes
With costs for electric generation increasing on June 1 for many utility customers, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is reminding consumers they have options to manage anticipated higher bills.
According to the PUC, the best response for those struggling to pay energy bills is to call utilities and ask about assistance programs, manage energy use and shop for competitive electric generation suppliers. You can find more from the PUC about consumer options here.
The rate increase will occur even before Gov. Tom Wolf’s carbon tax kicks in, which could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers. The carbon tax is part of Pennsylvania’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which was enacted by the governor without legislative approval.
Further Extension of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to June 17
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended a second time to June 17, allowing additional households to apply for help.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered by the state that provides assistance for home heating bills. Assistance is available for renters and homeowners.
Paying for College and Career Training with 529 Accounts
Sunday is College and Career Savings Day to promote the savings opportunities offered by 529 accounts, such as the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program.
The PA 529 College and Career Savings Program offers two plans, the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP). PA 529 GSP account earnings are based on college tuition inflation rates, while PA 529 IP account earnings are tied to investment choice and financial market performance.
PA 529 accounts can be used to pay for tuition, fees, books, equipment and room and board at technical schools, apprenticeship programs, community colleges and four-year colleges nationwide. Through Tuesday, May 31, families can take advantage of special PA 529 promotions at pa529.com/529day.
Memorial Day: Our Duty to Remember
I hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend with friends and family and take some time to remember the profound sacrifice of those who died fighting for our nation.
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