I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the session week of March 2, 2015.
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Senate to Review Governor’s FY 2015-16 Budget
Beginning with Governor Tom Wolf’s budget address on Tuesday, the Senate begins the extensive process leading to the finalization of a state budget for the 2015-16 Fiscal Year, which runs from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016.
During a joint session of the General Assembly, the Governor unveiled his $33.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16, which includes a $4.7 billion (16.1 percent) increase in state spending. It also includes tax increases totaling $4.7 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. Detailed information about the budget is available at: http://www.pasenategop.com/state-budget/.
I plan to thoroughly review the Governor’s proposal, but the bottom line when it comes to the state budget is that we must exercise due diligence in spending taxpayers’ money and hold the line on taxes. Governor Wolf’s proposal seems to do neither of those. It is one thing to increase spending when the state economy is robust, it’s totally different when -- such as in this case -- the Governor is digging deeper into the pockets of hardworking Pennsylvanians to pay for that largesse on the part of government.
Even a small tax increase often has a dramatic impact on jobs and our economy. The Governor is requesting significant tax increases in this budget. To say that we must be cautious and prudent in our consideration of these tax increases would be a major understatement.
Certainly, Senate Republicans will be taking a hard look at the Governor’s proposal. The process will get underway as the Senate Appropriations Committee holds three-weeks of budget hearings beginning on March 16. The hearings provide an opportunity for the Appropriations Committee to hear Administration officials detail their plans for the upcoming fiscal year. Live coverage of the hearings will be available online at www.pasenategop.com.
Senate Committees Hold Hearing Highlighting Natural Gas Impact Fee
The Senate Local Government Committee, which I chair, and the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a joint public hearing on Tuesday to discuss the benefits of the Act 13 Impact Fee on Pennsylvania communities.
The public hearing featured testimony from counties, townships, conservation districts and economic development organizations throughout the state. Act 13 of 2012 imposed an unconventional gas well fee which has provided more than $630 million to local and county governments to compensate for impacts of the industry, in addition to more than $2 billion companies have paid in state taxes.
Click here for video of the hearing.
Bill Sets Penalties for False Claim of Veteran Status
The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday intended to protect the integrity of the “veteran” driver’s license designation process. Under Senate Bill 42 those who falsely claim to be a veteran on their Pennsylvania driver’s license application would be subject to a summary offense with a $300 fine and possible imprisonment of between 30 and 90 days for those who fail to pay the fine. A state law enacted in 2012 allows veterans to self-certify their status subject to verification by state military officials.
On Monday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 130, a measure banning the practice of allowing persons sentenced to community service to purchase gift cards in lieu of performing the service.
Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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