In this Edition:
Senator Mensch Reacts to Governor Wolf’s Decision on Budget
I was pleased to hear Governor Wolf’s comments regarding HB 1801, which the Governor stated would become law without his signature.
HB 1801 will release $6.6 billion to complete 2015-2016 state budget without raising taxes. The Governor has finally done the right thing for Pennsylvanians. This is a huge win for taxpayers. This funding is greatly needed by the community and I am relieved that the administration has finally come to its senses.
No More Unnecessary Pain
HB 1801 restores funding, previously reduced or eliminated by the Governor, to state correctional institutions, basic education funding, and medical assistance capitation. With the restoration of vetoed monies under House Bill 1801, the 2015-16 state budget would spend $30.031 billion, a $872.6 million, or 3 percent, increase over 2014-15 levels.
HB 1801 was identical to the three previous budget bills sent to the Governor since June 30, 2015. The legislature delivered on its promise to accomplish a budget without tax increases. I find it shameful that the Governor took so long to release this funding. It caused unnecessary pain, paranoia, stress, debt, and undue financial pressure on constituents, school districts, Medicaid programs, government organizations, municipal entities and more.
School Funding Increased
Through HB 1801, basic education spending will increase by $200 million, taking the Commonwealth’s investment for public schools to its highest levels ever, a record $5.93 billion. K-12 education funding is increased significantly for FY 2015-16 as follows:
In addition, funding for higher education is increased by five percent over FY 2014-15. The Governor’s cuts to community colleges, PASSHE and state-related universities would also be reversed.
Agriculture and Child Advocacy Centers
Through HB 1801, $50.5 million will be provided for agricultural extension and research and includes $2 million to combat avian flu should an outbreak occur within the Commonwealth. This funding will ensure that 1,100 employees in the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Agriculture Extension Program will not be furloughed and that these vital programs can continue uninterrupted.
In addition, the legislation also restores funding for Child Advocacy Centers, Agricultural Research and Agricultural Excellence programs, economic development programs, disease-specific treatment/research programs, critical access hospitals, hospital-based burn centers, local municipal emergency relief funds, and much more.
The administration announced that the Governor would veto the fiscal code. The impact of this veto will be reviewed and addressed individually.
We can now move on from the 2015-16 budget and focus on the 2016-17 budget as well as other important legislative priorities. I will continue to fight for our taxpayers, social services, and our communities.
Senate Approves Six Bills
The Senate approved and sent to the House of Representatives six bills this week.
Senate Bill 983 allows parents and/or guardians of disabled adult children, who are in their care, to receive disability license plates.
Senate Bill 1108 defines in state statute a new subtype of federally certified motorcycle -- a three-wheeled vehicle with two forward wheels -- as an “autocycle” and creates a special designation under the existing motorcycle definition in Title 75 (Vehicles).
Senate Bill 1122 addresses membership on the board of trustees of a community college.
Senate Bill 1123 corrects a regulatory issue relating to gasoline in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 1142 amends the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act by making changes to the makeup of the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.
House Bill 1638 amends state law to permit appraisers to appraise physical damage to a vehicle using personal inspection or by photographs, videos, or telephonic means. Currently, appraisers can only conduct appraisals by personal inspection. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate “Welcomes Home Vietnam Veterans” with a Resolution
The Senate adopted a measure I co-sponsored, Senate Resolution 316, proclaiming March 30, 2016, as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Pennsylvania.
More than 304,000 American service members were wounded in Vietnam and of the 58,193 service members who lost their lives, 3,144 were from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. March 29 was the date that the last of our U.S. troops left Vietnam in 1973. And as such, the resolution marks March 30 is the date by which we commemorate their return home.
Therefore, it is appropriate that Pennsylvania and the nation pay tribute on that day to the unsung heroes of the Vietnam War. Let us offer a special prayer of gratitude to those men and women who served in Southeast Asia and never forget those whose dreams were left unfulfilled.
Joint Committee Reviews PA’s E-Recycling Law
The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee, held a public hearing on Monday to review Act 108 of 2010, the Covered Device Recycling Act.
This law was enacted with the intent of promoting the recycling of electronic devices, such as televisions and computer components, as a way to keep many hazardous and toxic materials from ending up in landfills.
However unforeseen economic issues and the growing problem of illegal dumping have sparked an interest in the General Assembly in reviewing the current Act to determine what refinements can be made to address those matters.
The committee discussed possible legislation that would address shortcomings in the current law and promote electronics recycling in Pennsylvania.
The Senate returns to voting session Monday, April 4. You can follow session live at PASenateGOP.com.
Twitter and Facebook: I post regular updates on legislative action, committee developments, useful state-related information, happenings in the 24th Senatorial District and more on Twitter @SenatorMensch and on my Facebook page.If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatormensch.com for more information about you
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