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In this Email Update:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette criticizes “Governor No” for blocking initiatives to help taxpayers
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently criticized “Governor No” for blocking several reform measures that would help taxpayers. Take a moment to read their editorial here.
Collaboration key to passing budget
In a recent editorial in the Republican Herald supporting the governor’s budget proposal, the newspaper characterized the $370 million increase in education funding as a "token increase.” In the east end of Tamaqua where I grew up, $370 million would have never, ever been considered a “token increase.” Please take a moment to read my letter to the editor that appeared in the paper on Thursday.
In my letter, I write that the governor keeps asking Pennsylvanians to view his budget as a whole, including increased spending and increased taxes. In June, the House of Representatives considered his plan as a whole and unanimously defeated it by a vote of 193-0. Not one member, Republican or Democrat, supported his plan. The taxpayers simply cannot afford a plan that drastically increases spending at a rate greater than the last four governor’s first budget proposals combined, as noted here:
Governor’s proposed budget would raise most taxes in U.S., study finds
A recent study released by the National Association of State Budget Officers found that Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal’s tax increases are larger than all other states combined.
Read the report here.
The report also finds that Pennsylvania’s new spending would rank in the top three among all 50 states! If the governor got his wish for his tax-and-spend budget, Pennsylvania would be ranked third in new spending at $4.77 billion, compared to California at $5.31 billion and New York at $7.49 billion.
Governor’s public pension reform veto shows governor stands with public sector union leaders, against taxpayers
I’m extremely disappointed with the governor’s veto of public pension reform legislation that would save taxpayers more than $10 billion by addressing the number one cost-driver for school property taxes. Senate Bill 1 would protect the pension program for current employees and retirees while addressing future projected costs by enrolling all state legislators and all new state and school district employees into a 401-K style plan.
It’s clear to me that the governor’s campaign slogan ‘Government that Works’ means that any commonsense approach to the state’s budget that is supported by the taxpayer, but opposed by the public union leaders, is rejected by this governor. How is the state government supposed to work when he continues to veto important legislation, strongly supported by the public, at the request of his public employee union leader friends?
Over the last two weeks, he vetoed a long-requested bill to privatize our state liquor stores and an on-time, no-new-taxes balanced state budget which increased aid to our public schools. On Thursday he vetoed the most important pension reform bill passed by the General Assembly in decades. How is that supporting “Government that Works?”
Like our counterparts in the private sector, our state government needs to make adjustments in our pension systems. If we do not adjust, we can look to Detroit’s bankruptcy to see what happens when you constantly maintain the status quo. We should learn from their example: That’s bad news for both public employees and the taxpayer.
You can listen to my statement here.
Governor’s state budget veto puts school district building projects reimbursement on hold
Reimbursement for school construction projects is put on hold due to the governor’s recent veto, including 18 projects in the 29th Senatorial District.
Under the state’s Planning and Construction Workbook, otherwise known as PlanCon, school districts receive a portion of funding for new construction from the state.
The Senate and House-passed budget package included reimbursements for 547 school construction projects across Pennsylvania. The state owes $5.3 billion in reimbursements to school districts for construction projects.
Reimbursement for construction projects at the following school districts will be put on hold:
Read more here.
You can watch my reaction to the impact of the late budget when I spoke with WGAL-TV.
Senate and House-passed budget reflects taxpayers’ priorities
I recently submitted a column to the Reading Eagle about the Senate and House-passed budget proposal which included the growing bipartisan support for school property tax reform. I finished the column by stating, “The people of Pennsylvania want meaningful property tax reform and controlled spending through our state budget. I am optimistic, with strong public support and growing legislative support, that we can agree that eliminating school property taxes should be a priority during the upcoming debate on finalizing our state budget. The message I've heard in Berks and Schuylkill County is this: “The sooner, the better!”
You can read the entire column here.
Wipers on = headlights on – it’s the law
Given the heavy rain and thunderstorms Berks and Schuylkill Counties have been facing so far this summer, it is important that motorists abide by Pennsylvania’s headlights and wiper law in order to ensure visibility and safe driving for not only themselves, but other drivers on the road.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly enacted Act 159 of 2006, which amends various sections of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code (Title 75), including the requirements for the use of lighted headlamps and illuminating devices while driving. Section 4302 of Act 159 of 2006 states that a motorist must activate their headlights anytime they are unable to see or notice a person or vehicle 1,000 feet away on a highway. Motorists are also required to use their headlights when the wipers on their vehicles are in continuous or intermittent use during periods of rain, snow or other conditions such as fog or mist.
Motorists have been required to follow the headlights and wiper law since January 2007. Failure to comply with this law could result in motorists receiving a $25 fine, as well as other fees and associated costs which could increase the fine to almost $100.
Four tips to mitigate flood loss
The following information was sent by a local resident with four quick tips to mitigate personal losses during times of flooding. Please see below.
1. Develop a flood evacuation plan
Flash floods can occur without a warning, escalating quickly. If you live in a high-risk area prone to flooding, a flood evacuation plan is essential. Aren’t sure of your risk? Plug in your address on the FEMA site to view a local flood map.
Three questions that are key to your escape plan are:
2. Waterproof to ward off heavy rains
By taking proactive measures around your property, your home will be more flood resistant. Consider the following precautionary steps:
3. Invest in flood insurance
Weather is unpredictable. As much as you can prepare, sometimes even the most well devised plan is no match for Mother Nature. In times like this, it pays to be properly insured.
The Insurance Information Institute (@iiiorg) reminds us that flood coverage is not part of standard homeowners, business or renters insurance policies. To ensure protection against direct physical losses associated with flooding, a separate flood insurance policy is necessary.
The following resources can help you determine your home’s risk for flooding and the appropriate coverages to carry:
Premiums are based on your risk of flooding. For details see the NFIP’s flood insurance policy rate information page to estimate coverage costs.
4. Understand flood terminology: Watch vs. warning
The best way to prevent floodwaters from catching you off-guard is to keep an eye on local weather, including short and long-term forecasts.
Flood advisory–Be aware! A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.
Do you have unclaimed property with Pa. Treasury? Find out!
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury, the department is currently seeking the owners of $2.3 billion in unclaimed property in the Commonwealth.
Each year, Treasury is required to advertise the names and addresses of property owners with unclaimed property valued at more than $250. These advertisements are required to appear in a general circulation newspaper in the property owner’s last known county of residence.
Given that the names of unclaimed property owners appear only once in the newspaper, individuals are encouraged to visit Treasury’s Unclaimed Property database at www.patreasury.gov or call the Unclaimed Property call center at 1-800-222-2046 for more information about how to recover their property, free of cost.