VANDERGRIFT, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said applications for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program covering tax year 2017 are now available in his Vandergrift, Derry and Latrobe offices. “The program can provide vital assistance to seniors, low-income families and citizens with disabilities,” Petrarca said. “It’s free to apply, and my offices can help with the application process. I urge all eligible residents to stop by one of my offices for an application.” The program, which permits some state residents to receive rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2017, is open to eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older and people with disabilities 18 or older. Homeowners earning a maximum of $35,000 annually and renters earning a maximum of $15,000 annually may receive up to $650 in rebates, depending on their income. In addition, some homeowners may qualify for supplemental rebates that can increase their total rebate to $975. Half of Social Security benefits are not considered income when determining eligibility. Residents can find applications at Petrarca’s Vandergrift office, 239 Longfellow St. (724) 567-6982; Derry office, 620 North Chestnut St. (724) 694-5298; and Latrobe office, in the Latrobe Municipal Building, 901 Jefferson St. (724) 539-7560. The Latrobe office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Applicants should bring proof of their local Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila.,/Delaware, chairwoman of the Philadelphia County Delegation, called Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal for the 2018-19 fiscal year the best way to move Philadelphia forward. “As chairwoman of the Philadelphia County Delegation, I am excited to see that Governor Wolf’s budget proposal falls in line with our delegation’s initiatives for this upcoming year,” Donatucci said. “For years, we needed greater investments in education, access to high-quality child care, and resources to tackle the drug and opioid epidemic. These are programs and initiatives that Philadelphians need and our delegation will make sure that the appropriate bills are sent to the governor’s desk to be signed.” Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal includes: $100 million increase in basic education; $40 million increase in Pre-K Counts and Head Start; $20 million increase for special education; A proposal to increase Pennsylvania's minimum wage to $12 per hour; $25 million investment in state funds to expand access to high-quality childcare; Proposals to protect Pennsylvania women and families by closing the gender wage gap, guaranteeing sick leave, and protecting people from sexual assault; and $26.5 million investment in federal Cures Act funding to expand treatment to address the opioid drug epidemic. Donatucci added, “The job of government is to make people’s Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Michael Driscoll, D-Phila., highlighted how Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal for the 2018-19 fiscal year would provide Philadelphia residents with much-needed relief. “I would like to thank Governor Wolf for presenting us with a common-sense budget proposal that will help protect Philadelphia residents,” Driscoll said. “This includes investing in education, providing the necessary funding for successful workforce development initiatives, as well as increasing our resources to tackle the opioid epidemic that has impacted our city.” Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal includes: $120 million increase in basic and special education; $40 million investment to develop 21st-century job skills; $10 million for career and technical education; and $26.5 million investment in federal Cures Act funding to expand treatment to address the opioid drug epidemic. Driscoll added, “With these funding increases, we can finally give our constituents the break they deserve, without any broad-based tax increases.” ### Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced that the House unanimously passed H.B. 979—a bill that would criminalize “caller ID spoofing.” Petrarca, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the bill would target the fraudulent use of technology that allows a caller to make it appear as though a call is coming from an entity other than the actual caller. “Scammers use the technology to get financial and other sensitive information from consumers,” Petrarca said. “It’s just one more disturbing development in the area of telephone solicitation fraud, and it shows that we must be especially vigilant in fighting these practices.” In 2009, criminals used caller ID spoofing technology to disguise themselves as a local bank. They called hundreds of Lancaster County residents, asking for their account details and other sensitive financial information. The bill, which would amend the state Crimes Code, would make it a misdemeanor to cause false caller identification information to be displayed on a recipient’s telephone with the intent to harass or defraud. The penalty for a first offense is a $2,500 fine and/or up to one year in prison. For subsequent offenses, the penalty increases to a $5,000 fine and/or up to two years in prison. The bill now makes its way to the Senate chamber. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., called Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal for the 2018-19 fiscal year a step in the right direction: “I applaud Governor Wolf for making the needed investments in our workforce, proposing to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and providing a total of $20 million to focus on workforce development,” Cephas said. “By launching PAsmart, he has pledged $50 million to promote 21 st century job and skill development, including $10 million to apprenticeship programs which would allow individuals to enter the workforce with a trade and debt free. With 200,000 job openings projected each year in the state, more than 13 percent are expected in traditionally CTE-related fields, generating the need to invest in pathways beyond the cradle to college pipeline.” Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal includes: $225 million to improve education for all students regardless of zip code; $25 million increase in STEM and computer science related education; $7 million increase in apprenticeships in order to double the number of registered apprentices by 2025; $10 million increase to develop career and technical education and STEM career pathways; and $5 million increase to encourage employers to partner with colleges and universities to prepare students for jobs in high paying and demand fields. “Governor Wolf introduced measures for business tax reforms to establish a more Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., outlined how Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal for the 2018-19 fiscal year would help move the 203rd Legislative District forward: “I applaud Governor Wolf for investing in initiatives that would help to move my district forward and provide my constituents with more of the resources and services that they need. Every Pennsylvanian deserves access to a quality education, high-quality child care, and a living wage. I look forward to working with my colleagues to see that these initiatives are signed into law.” Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal includes: $100 million increase in basic education; $40 million increase in Pre-K Counts and Head Start; $20 million increase for special education; A proposal to increase Pennsylvania minimum wage to $12 per hour; $25 million investment in state funds to expand access to high-quality childcare; and Proposals to protect Pennsylvania women and families by closing the gender wage gap, guaranteeing sick leave, and protecting people from sexual assault. “Children and families would benefit the most if this budget is passed,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s time to put their needs first and invest in solutions to the problems that so many Pennsylvania families face. Another one of these concerns includes addressing the gun violence epidemic that has impacted our communities for far too long. I am grateful to the Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, said Gov. Tom Wolf's 2018-19 budget proposal is good for Philadelphia and Delaware County residents. "Good schools lead to good jobs – good schools help our young people to succeed, and they help in attracting and keeping jobs here. In his three years in office, Governor Wolf has worked with us to restore the Corbett-Republican cuts to K-12 and higher education, but there's more to do. The funding increases he's calling for would help education, and in turn economic development, in Philadelphia and Delaware counties," McClinton said. "And I'm glad the governor has renewed his call for a commonsense severance tax on natural gas that's drilled in Pennsylvania. As he said, 'It’s a tax paid by people mostly outside of Pennsylvania to use our natural resources.' All of the other major natural-gas states have a tax like this and it's only fair to our taxpayers to do the same." McClinton said Wolf's proposal includes many elements of the House Democrats' Plan For PA, which is outlined at http://plan4pa.pahouse.com/ A video of McClinton’s reaction to the budget proposal is available at https://youtu.be/Gx8znf9P53c ### Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, said he is encouraged that the budget proposals Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled today focus on early education and working families. “Emphasis on education – and early education in particular – is critical,” Costa said. “Multiple studies have shown how important it is to give kids a good foundation while they’re young, so they don’t fall behind. Investing in kids while they’re still at the pre-K age not only helps secure a better future for them, it strengthens our state’s future by ensuring that we have a productive, competitive workforce.” Costa said he is also excited by the budget’s focus on job training and on raising the minimum wage. “I have been fighting to raise the minimum wage for my entire career as a legislator,” Costa said. “Only by paying workers a living wage can Pennsylvania’s families thrive and give back to the state’s economy. I’m also encouraged by the budget’s proposed investments in career and technical training. Strengthening educational and job opportunities is key to strengthening the commonwealth.” Costa said he will be working with his colleagues to ensure that Pennsylvania’s children and working families remain the number one priority. A video clip of Costa discussing the budget proposals is available here . Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, praised Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2018-19 proposed budget address. Davis said he was especially happy to hear about Wolf’s commitment to providing more funding for education, which ultimately will lead to better jobs and workforce development. “The governor put a responsible and fair budget on the table,” Davis said. “I like the increases in education. He adds $100 million to basic education funding, as well as $30 million to pre-k programs.” Additionally, Wolf’s recommended budget outlined a $20 million increase in special education, $15 million to the State System of Higher Education and $10 million in career and technical education. Davis said that type of funding would be huge for the commonwealth and the constituents he serves. “I think this budget is right for Pennsylvania and it personally will affect the communities in my district in a positive way.” A video on this topic from Rep. Davis is available here . Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, said he is pleased with Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2018-19 budget that includes his unwavering commitment to bolstering the state’s workforce, growing the economy, protecting the taxpayer and the continued push for business investment incentives across the commonwealth. “I’m pretty impressed by today’s budget address, I think it hit home on a lot of areas many of us around Pennsylvania are looking to see improvements in,” Bizzarro said. Bizzarro highlighted workforce development and education. “We’re seeing a continued push to invest in education and workforce development, which goes hand-in-hand,” he said. “Nearly 180,000 jobs have been created in the last three years. By committing to the growth of the job market, we’re not only investing in the creation of jobs for all Pennsylvanians, but also the growth of our economy.” Bizzarro also discussed how the budget proposal ties in with House Democrats' Plan For PA . “The overall goal of Plan For PA is to better the lives of all Pennsylvania residents by putting our people first, creating and retaining good-paying jobs, and the continued investment in education that is the backbone to the ongoing progression of the job market in our state.” More information about the Plan For PA is available at http://planforpa.pahouse.com . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 1 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., announced she will host an open house at her district office for constituents of the 203rd Legislative District. The free event will take place 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9 at 7178 Ogontz Ave., 19138. Fitzgerald and her staff will be available to answer questions and provide information on the SEPTA Photo ID program, Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, unclaimed property and many other state-related services and programs. For more information, contact Fitzgerald’s office at (215) 549-0220. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, released the following response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address for the 2018/19 fiscal year: “The governor’s budget address was positive and promising. I’m in full support of his efforts, which will help move Pennsylvania forward. “The governor’s proposed investment in job training and education provides an outlook for a brighter future for Pennsylvanians. We need to work with all levels of government and private enterprises to meet the workforce needs of current and prospective businesses to continue to build and energize Pennsylvania communities, starting with investing in pre-K through K-12 and post-secondary education. “Pennsylvania has the lowest minimum wage of our neighbors. Raising the wage will help working men and women better provide for their families while depending less on social programs, thus increasing revenues for education funding and workforce development. “We heard again this year about how a modest severance tax will help us make that happen. We’re the only state with natural gas resources that doesn’t impose a severance tax. This resource will help pay for the investment in education and our future. “Additionally, the governor proposed shrinking the size of the waiting list for services for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities, and making contributions to the state’s rainy day fund. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., applauded the funding proposals Gov. Tom Wolf made during his 2018-2019 budget address. “Governor Wolf is committed to strengthening our schools and improving Pennsylvania’s economy. The people of Philadelphia will benefit from these proposals and I look forward to working with him to accomplish those goals,” Dawkins said. Dawkins said the proposed boost in education funding would translate into better schools in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth. “We need to arrive at smart, useful benchmarks to ensure academic success. We need to invest money into classroom learning to provide quality education and opportunities for all of our students, from Pre-K to college to workforce skills and training for adults,” Dawkins said. Dawkins said the proposed PAsmart program reflects the needs of Pennsylvania’s workforce and employers. “I’ve spoken with labor union leadership across the Commonwealth, and the need to expand apprenticeship programs and continue to recruit new talent has come up in conversation after conversation. "Developing programs for apprentices and creating other career and technical education pathways will help Pennsylvania’s students prepare themselves not just for jobs, but for lifelong careers. Nurturing an educated workforce is the first step towards encouraging companies and corporations to invest in Pennsylvania,” Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2018-19 state budget proposal: “I was thrilled to hear the governor’s specific commitment to career and technical education that will ultimately lead to family-sustaining jobs for people living in Luzerne County and throughout Pennsylvania. I’m working with Republicans on a bipartisan package of bills on this important issue through my subcommittee appointment,” said Mullery, who serves as Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Career and Technical Education. “Additionally, I know the hardworking people of the 119th Legislative District are pleased the governor's budget contains no proposed tax increases on their families," Mullery said. “I understand this is the first step in the budget process. I remain willing to work across the aisle and with the administration to pass a responsible, on-time budget." Mullery said the governor's proposals go hand in hand with the House Democrats' Plan For PA, which includes supporting quality schools, good jobs and fair taxes for all Pennsylvanians. More information about the Plan For PA is available at http://planforpa.pahouse.com . Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Robert Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, released the following statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2018-19 budget address today: “Budgets, in essence, are a list of priorities. The governor’s proposal hit on many of my priorities: increased education funding – from pre-K to college; a large investment ($50 million) in workforce development and additional dollars to help create manufacturing jobs; additional funding to combat the opioid crisis; and additional funding for bridge repair. “It protects programs that are crucial to our senior citizens, and offers ways to consolidate and streamline government while maintaining services. Perhaps most importantly, there is no call for a broad-based tax increase. “As always, this proposal serves as a framework. There is much work to be done. But this is a positive first step.” To her audio of Rep. Matzie’s comments, click here . Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Marty Flynn lauded today’s 2018-19 state budget proposal unveiled by Gov. Tom Wolf because of its continued commitment to education and good jobs. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., applauded today’s 2018-19 state budget proposal unveiled by Gov. Tom Wolf because of its continued commitment to education while expanding jobs and skills training and the renewed call for a severance tax on natural-gas drilling. “Once again, the governor’s budget is putting people first. His proposal is seeking $120 million more for school districts in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth, as well as higher investment for pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs and state universities, and career and technical education. “In addition to that commitment, Gov. Wolf is seeking to launch PASmart, which would provide opportunities for Pennsylvanians to get the skills they would need to obtain good, family-sustaining jobs,” Youngblood said. “I am also a proponent of the governor’s repeated stance on a severance tax on natural-gas drilling. This commonsense tax would help meet Pennsylvania’s needs such as education and balancing our budget. It is long overdue for the drilling industry to pay its fair share of doing business in the commonwealth. “As the House Democratic Caucus Secretary, I’m pleased to see the governor’s budget falls directly in line with our own House Democratic agenda, the Plan For Pennsylvania , which focuses on quality schools, good jobs and fairer taxes,” she said. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Mike O’Brien, D-Phila., lauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal that calls for more funding for education as well as the renewed call for a severance tax on natural gas drilling. “I’m pleased to see Governor Wolf staying on course with his commitment to increase funding for education. The proposed $120 million more for our schools in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth remains a top priority to reverse the cuts made by the previous administration. This funding also would create a higher investment for pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs and state universities, and career and technical training. “I also support the governor’s proposal to fund apprenticeship and job training programs. We need to provide our young people with the skills necessary to obtain family-sustaining jobs and allow older people to return to the workforce if they desire,” O’Brien said. “I stand with Governor Wolf on his repeated push to get Pennsylvania in line with other natural-gas states on a severance tax on drilling. It’s high time the commonwealth enacts this commonsense tax to help us meet our needs such as balancing our budget. It’s ridiculous to see neighboring Ohio and West Virginia with such a tax, yet here we are letting companies work without paying their fair share of taxes here,” he said. Read more
State Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s state budget address today: “I am pleased that Governor Tom Wolf is proposing $120 million more overall for school districts in my area and across the state. As a former skills trainer for 16 years for young adults with special needs, I know how important investments in education are, as well as to adequately fund pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs. Our children are our future and we must continue to invest in their education.” McNeill said McNeill outlined the governor’s budget proposal for education: $100 million increase in basic education; $40 million increase in Pre-K Counts and Head Start; $20 million increase for special education; $15 million increase for the State System of Higher Education; and $10 million for Career and Technical Education. McNeill said the governor's proposals go hand in hand with the House Democrats' Plan For PA, which includes supporting quality schools, good jobs and fair taxes for all Pennsylvanians. More information about the Plan For PA is available at http://planforpa.pahouse.com . McNeill represents the 133 rd Legislative District. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, is welcoming the proposed funding increases for education and opioid treatment in the budget plan Gov. Tom Wolf fully unveiled today, as well as his renewed call for a severance tax on natural-gas drilling. Frankel said: "We've made so much progress in Governor Wolf's three years in restoring the Corbett-Republican education cuts to K-12 education and our state-owned and state-related universities, including Pitt. But there's more to do. And I'm glad to see the governor will be calling for tens of millions of dollars in new funding to build on the work we've already done to tackle the heroin and opioid crisis – we can't count on the Trump administration to deliver anything more than words on that front. Some of the counties hit hardest by the heroin and opioid crisis are in southwestern Pennsylvania, and Governor Wolf continues to recognize how important addressing it is to our region. "Governor Wolf is also right to call again for passing a commonsense severance tax on natural-gas drilling to help meet our needs such as education and balancing our budget. All other major natural-gas states – including neighboring Ohio and West Virginia – have such a tax. It's only right for Pennsylvania families to have the same measure of fairness, by having these companies pay their fair share of taxes here." ### Read more
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