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In this Email Update:
Over 200 jobs coming to Schuylkill County
On Thursday, the governor announced that Hudsonís Bay Company will create 207 new full-time jobs in Foster Township, Schuylkill County. Hudsonís Bay Company is the parent company of major retailers, including Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off 5th.
Rep. Neal Goodman and I worked closely with the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation and the governorís team to bring this major retailer to Highridge Business Park.
This interstate and international competition for jobs of this kind is very intense and Iím very pleased to see HBC will be investing over $50 million into our region.
Read more about the announcement in the Republican Herald.
Last outstanding piece of 15-16 budget resolved
Over the last several weeks, Iíve been sounding the alarm about the drastic impact to schools in Berks and Schuylkill Counties due to the governorís veto of a budget-related bill.
The governorís veto of the measure on April 4 meant school districts in our region would have lost out on nearly $10 million in construction reimbursement. Under the stateís Planning and Construction Workbook, otherwise known as PlanCon, school districts receive a portion of funding for new construction and renovation projects from the state. Overall, 18 out of the 21 school districts in the 29th Senatorial District were impacted due to the governorís veto. You can read about the impact for BERKS schools and SCHUYLKILL schools.
The state budget approved by lawmakers in March included an additional $200 million for public schools. The formula to determine how the money is driven out was also contained in the Fiscal Code.
His veto of the budget-related bill also scrapped the formula to drive out tax dollars to local schools, also known as the Basic Education Funding Formula. His veto wiped out the recommendations of the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Formula Commission, which he praised last year. Instead, he created his own formula that would have cut a cumulative total of $2,758,013 from local schools. Twenty out of twenty-one school districts in the 29th Senatorial District would have lost money under the governorís plan. Read more about that here.
With bipartisan concern over the veto, the Senate and House of Representatives passed a new bill with support from both sides of the aisle to restore these cuts. The Senate vote was 38-11 while the vote in the House was 149-45.
On April 25, the bill became law without the governorís signature.
Saving tax dollars in South Heidelberg Township
The governor signed my proposal into law last week to improve sewer lines in South Heidelberg Township in an effort to save tax dollars.
Act 22 of 2016 conveys a permanent sanitary sewer easement and a temporary construction easement in South Heidelberg Township to run a sewer line through Wernersville State Hospital grounds. The easement only allows the Municipal Authority of South Heidelberg Township to make improvements to the sewer line. The state will maintain ownership of the property.
This approach should allow the project to be completed with the minimum amount of disruption to the local community and lowest cost to taxpayers.
Read more about this effort here.
Big Benefit Concert for local art center a success!
Last weekend, I dusted off my saxophone and played in my first concert in 40 years for a worthy cause benefiting the Tamaqua Community Art Center. I was invited to join Tamaqua Borough Mayor Christian Morrison and Tamaqua Borough Councilman Micah Gursky for one songÖand it might very well be my last!
Iíd like to point out that Zac Yenser, a guitar student at the Art Center, was not nearly as nervous as I was.
Congratulations to all the hardworking volunteers and staff for hosting a successful event to provide the community with educational opportunities.
Read more about the event in the Times News.
Aging issues discussed at Berks Area Agency on Aging breakfast event
This morning, I had the opportunity to join several local legislators to discuss issues facing senior citizens. The ongoing dialogue is helpful as we look to protect our older population. The senior citizen population in Berks County is one of the largest proponents of the bipartisan effort to eliminate school property taxes. Studies have shown that they would be one of the biggest beneficiaries by eliminating the school property tax.
I continue to receive phone calls, emails and letters of support and encouragement to not give up the fight to remove this hated tax that continues to push seniors out of their homes.
Other key issues I heard about this morning included the stateís PACE program, assisted living and long-term care. If you or someone you know has any questions, concerns or would like more information on programs and opportunities from the state for seniors, please do not hesitate to give any of my local offices a call.
Four-day litter cleanup by Schuylkill Keep It Pretty
During their annual spring cleanup campaign, Schuylkill Keep It Pretty (SKIP) had a successful four days of cleaning up litter around our communities and along our roadways last weekend.
I was thrilled to join the Tamaqua Boy Scout Troop on Saturday morning to clean up trash throughout the borough.
The four-day event featured many, many volunteers consisting of the Pottsville Business Association, Penn State students, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, M&T Bank employees, local boy scouts, among several other local residents.
You can read more about last weekendís efforts in the Republican Herald.
Maggie & Wolfgang reminding dog owners of upcoming licensing, rabies compliance checks in Berks Co.
The Department of Agriculture is reminding dog owners that dog wardens will be conducting checks for current license and rabies vaccinations in Berks County the week of May 9.
The department says that a license is one of the best ways to track down your dog if you were to become separated.
The law requires dogs three months of age or older must be licensed by Jan. 1 of each year. The fee is $6.50 for each spayed or neutered dog and $8.50 for other dogs. Older adults and persons with disabilities may purchase a license for $4.50 or $6.50, depending on if the dog is spayed or neutered.
Violators can be cited with a maximum fine of $300 per violation, plus court costs.
More information can be found at www.licenseyourdogPA.com.
Save the Date: Telephone town hall meeting on May 10
I will be providing more details as we get closer to the date, but I would like remind you that I will be holding a telephone town hall meeting with local residents on Tuesday, May 10 at 6 p.m.
More information can be found here.