Mar. 10, 2017

The Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol

Thanks for Coming!
It was my pleasure to host our 11th annual Farmers’ Breakfast last Friday in Elliottsburg, Perry County. We had a record crowd of more than 200 people and I sincerely thank everyone who attended.

Our guest speaker was Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, who talked about the ag budget proposal and the state of the industry in Pennsylvania. Learn more here


More photos available here

Education, Human Services Focus of Budget Hearings
The House Appropriations Committee wrapped up its three-week series of budget hearings Thursday, with two full days of questions about the education and human services aspects of the governor’s proposal.

Monday’s hearing included details about increased funding for basic and higher education, and whether additional state investments are being directed into the classrooms.

Questions about the opioid crisis, child care, food stamps, Medicaid and specific programs for those with developmental and physical disabilities were the focus of Tuesday’s hearing, with members asking details about the waiting lists for services, program eligibility, and federal and state matching funds.

During its appearance, the state police answered questions about the governor’s proposed $25 per person fee for coverage in municipalities without their own police protection.

The final hearing involved the Office of the Budget and included questions about the governor’s overall $32.4 billion spending plan and the estimates on a number of cost-saving initiatives.

The committee will take the testimony gathered from these hearings into negotiations for the 2017-18 budget
Seeking Money-Saving Solutions 
A new effort to help save taxpayer dollars by asking state employees and retirees for their ideas was announced this week by the House Appropriations Committee. The program, State Employees Achieving Savings (SEAS), seeks their strategies to better streamline services and be more efficient. The committee emphasized that no idea is too small for consideration. A website has been created to submit ideas.
The February Economic Numbers
Pennsylvania collected $1.9 billion in General Fund revenue in February, which was $32.9 million less than anticipated. General Fund collections so far this fiscal year total $18 billion, which is $449.7 million below estimate.

Sales tax receipts totaled $701.9 million for February, which was $11.8 million above the estimate. Year-to-date sales tax collections total $6.6 billion, which is $126.5 million less than anticipated.

Personal Income Tax (PIT) revenue in February was $799.4 million, which was $29.6 million below estimate. This brings year-to-date PIT collections to $7.5 billion, which is $128.1 million below the estimate.
Free Safety Courses Available for Motorcyclists 
Spring is just around the corner, and that means motorcycle riders will be hitting the road. PennDOT suggests that motorcyclists prepare for the upcoming riding season by taking one of several free training courses that are available through the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program.

The courses are offered at numerous locations statewide to Pennsylvania residents who have a motorcycle learner’s permit or motorcycle license. They are conducted on a riding range, under the supervision of certified instructors. Learn more here
Visit a Museum for Free on Sunday
To help our Commonwealth celebrate its 336th birthday on Charter Day, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will offer free admission to many historic sites and museums on Sunday, March 12. The list is available here.

Charter Day also gives visitors to The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg a rare opportunity to see the original Charter of Pennsylvania, written in 1681. 
Spring Ahead: Turn Clocks Ahead One Hour This Weekend
Daylight saving time will begin on Sunday, March 12, at 2 a.m., and residents are reminded to turn their clocks ahead one hour Saturday night. This is also a good time to check and/or change batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, which should also be replaced every 10 years.