House passes Caltagirone bill to fund pediatric cancer research

HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said today the House of Representatives unanimously passed his legislation that would increase funding for pediatric cancer research throughout Pennsylvania.

Caltagirone's legislation, H.B. 1804, would establish a check-off box on Pennsylvania's state income tax form. Under the bill, the state Department of Revenue would provide space on the Pennsylvania individualized income tax return form where a taxpayer could voluntarily contribute no less than $5 for pediatric cancer research within the commonwealth.

Caltagirone noted pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children between 1 and 14, and the average age of death for a child with cancer is 8. Additionally, it is estimated that seven children die each day from cancer nationwide.

"This is a huge signal that this effort has support among state lawmakers," Caltagirone said. "As we speak, children are fighting for their lives in Reading, in Berks County and across Pennsylvania. This is the least we can do for them.

"This bill is giving the people of Pennsylvania an option. I've talked to doctors, I've talked to researchers, I've talked to families and they will all tell you: every dollar counts."

The funding raised by the legislation would be distributed to eligible institutions in Pennsylvania that conduct research relative to pediatric cancer, including: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center; Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Abramson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania; and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Caltagirone added this is the first of his bills in a three-bill package to pass the House. Caltagirone is the sponsor of H.B. 746, which would establish a Pediatric Cancer Research registration license plate that would be made available through the state Department of Transportation. He is also the author of H.B. 1865, which is designed to offer tax credits to businesses in order to raise millions of dollars in funding for pediatric cancer research.

Specifically, the bill would allocate $10 million in tax credits per year over the next 10 years to Pennsylvania businesses, similar to the existing Educational Improvement Tax Credit program that offers tax credits to businesses that contribute to scholarship organizations.

The funds raised through the initiatives would be distributed to the same pediatric cancer research institutions noted in H.B. 1804, which now moves to the Senate for consideration.