View in browser
Follow Sen. Argall on Twitter for Senate happenings –
In this Email Update:
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati compared the current budget situation to what happened in 1991. In 1991, the legislature and governor agreed to a $3 billion tax increase to plug a $1 billion structural deficit.
Since that time, the state has found ways to balance budgets and not overcompensate for structural deficits. This year, the governor is proposing a $4 billion tax increase to fill a $1 billion structural deficit. You can watch Senator Scarnati explain the similarities between this budget proposal and the one that was enacted in 1991 under Gov. Casey here.
Below is a chart illustrating the massive increases Governor Wolf is proposing in his first state budget compared to the first budget proposals offered by Governors Casey, Ridge, Rendell and Corbett.
In their latest Politically Uncorrected column, G. Terry Madonna and Michael L. Young of Franklin and Marshall College advocate for the elimination – not reduction – of school property taxes. Here is an excerpt from their column:
“Both sides really want the same thing here – a sane tax system in support of a stable revenue source for schools. Realizing that comity of interest is half the journey.
Getting rid of the property tax means Wolf wins, the GOP wins – and most important of all, the long-suffering taxpayers of Pennsylvania win.
“It doesn’t get better than that.” You can read their full column titled “RIP: The School Property Tax” here.
I agree! Madonna and Young found in recent statewide polling that local tax reform is one of the top issues for Pennsylvania.
During Thursday’s hearing with the Department of Community and Economic Development, I noted that the governor’s administration believes his property tax “relief” plan would benefit businesses, just imagine what complete elimination would do for the state!
I also asked about the future of the state’s Main Street and Elm Street programs, which have been very successful in several local communities, including Pottsville, Shenandoah, Hamburg and Tamaqua.
Finally, as Chairman of the Senate Aviation Caucus, I requested an update on the state’s ability to market new aviation-related firms to Pennsylvania to grow our economy. The average salary for a job within the industry is over $50,000 year!
Watch the discussion here.
Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Chairman Elder Vogel Jr. expressed his concern to the New Castle News regarding the adverse impact the governor’s property tax “relief” property tax plan would have on farmers across Pennsylvania. Vogel stated, “Gov. Wolf’s tax plan ignores the fact that people need real relief through property tax elimination, not temporary reductions.”
Also joining the chorus of concerned groups was the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. You can read the complete article here.
On Monday, I joined Representative Mike Tobash to discuss education issues with John Callahan of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. The event, which was a webinar for school district officials in Schuylkill and Berks Counties, covered a wide-range of topics including school property tax elimination, pension reform and mandate relief. You can watch the full program here:
The Department of Aging was before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. During the hearing, I advocated that the state needs to set a goal to provide senior citizens with greater opportunities to remain in their homes compared to placing them in institutional care. Other states have found a way to do it. It would be beneficial both to senior citizens and taxpayers. You can watch the discussion here.
Over the last few years, the federal Environmental Protection Agency continues to place burdensome regulations on the coal industry. The regulations have hurt the industry in Pennsylvania and across the country. As the senator representing a majority of the anthracite region, I am concerned about our competiveness not only nationally, but internationally. It has been brought to my attention that Russia, Ukraine and China are all able to ship coal cheaper to the United States than it is for domestic coal to be produced and utilized.
Earlier this year, Florida Governor Rick Scott visited Pennsylvania encouraging employers to relocate to the Sunshine State. One of the advantages the governor noted is Florida’s permitting process for new construction. I asked about our state’s comparison to other states when it comes to our permitting process.
Watch my questions with the department here.
On Thursday, the Department of Human Services answered questions from the Senate Appropriations Committee. During the hearing, I brought up the story from last year where a Pennsylvania Lottery winner of over $300,000 was caught receiving public assistance from the department. I introduced legislation with Senator Scarnati to address the issue, as we believe that anyone playing and winning through the state lottery should have that money counted as an available resource when deciding how much, if any, public assistance is warranted.
The stories shared by many residents of welfare “horror stories” continue to be a focus for me, which is why I brought up the issue of drug testing welfare recipients, among other reforms as a way to strengthen the integrity of our welfare programs and protect tax dollars.
You can watch our discussion here.
As the senator representing two state correctional facilities, I asked about inmate reductions statewide while still maintaining strong public safety regionally and statewide during Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Committee state budget hearing with the Department of Corrections.
I also asked about overtime costs and impact on employees within the department.
You can watch the complete conversation here.
During Monday’s hearing with the Public Utility Commission (PUC), I expressed my concern of the growing illegal household goods mover industry operating in Pennsylvania.
The industry is regulated by the PUC and required to carry proper permits, insurance and pay taxes. However, an underground market exists, which hampers the ability of licensed household goods movers to fairly compete in Pennsylvania. I recently circulated two co-sponsor memos explaining forthcoming legislation to address the issue. You can view those two memos here and here.
Many people trust movers to transport their most important belongings during a move – I want to make sure consumers and their valuable property are protected.I asked the PUC at the Senate Appropriations Committee about their public protection within this industry.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will continue with its third and final week of state budget hearings today. The complete schedule of the budget hearings is available on my website. You can also watch live on your computer or mobile device.