In this Update:
Massive Spending Increase in Shapiro’s Budget Creates Concern
This week, Gov. Josh Shapiro shared his proposed 2024-25 state budget, which includes an excessive $3.2 billion increase – a jump of 7.1% – in state spending. This is irresponsible, inappropriate, and unsustainable.
In addition to making it extremely difficult to balance future budgets, the governor’s spending plan would completely eliminate the state’s current and future budgetary reserves in the next five years. Unrealistic spending and revenue projections mean the governor’s budget plan will likely require deep spending cuts and painful broad-based tax increases on Pennsylvanians much sooner.
Shapiro’s budget approach, which would result in driving inflation even higher, is a real concern—one of many that I expressed this week. Families are already struggling to make ends meet; they deserve tax relief, not more taxes and more inflation. The governor’s proposal runs in opposition to the cautious and responsible budgets Senate Republicans have fought to enact.
In the next several months, Senate Republicans will examine Shapiro’s budget proposal and search for greater efficiencies. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I look forward to participating in budget hearings beginning on February 20 to study the proposal.
Senate Passes Measure Supporting a More Secure Southern Border
As the unprecedented rise in illegal immigration strains the resources of states throughout the nation, the Senate approved a measure calling for action to address the border crisis and support the rights of states to protect their citizens.
Senate Resolution 234 voices support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s actions to secure the border amid federal inaction by the Biden Administration. It also encourages Gov. Josh Shapiro to join dozens of other governors from across the country who have announced their support of Abbott. The Biden Administration continues to fight Abbott’s lawful exercise of his Constitutional authority to defend his state and its citizens.
According to the U.S. Center for Immigration Services, the country’s illegal immigrant population grew to 12.8 million by October 2023. It rose 2.6 million since January 2021, when President Joe Biden took office and used executive orders to move financial resources away from the border, suspend deportations and end the successful “Remain in Mexico” policy.
Speaking on behalf of the resolution, I expressed concern for the 85,000 children were brought into this country in the last two years, with an adult, who are now unaccounted for as well as for the people are dying daily from fentanyl being trafficked across the border. The crisis on our southern border has made us all border states. Pennsylvania is taking action.
Hear my full remarks here.
Senate Hearing on Office of Administration Data Loss
This week, as a member of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee, I attended a joint public hearing with the Senate State Government Committee to obtain more information about the recent Shapiro Office of Administration (OA) server data loss.
According to the OA, human error from an employee performing server maintenance on Jan. 3 resulted in data loss affecting several agencies. Additional information requested at the hearing will be reviewed once received by the committees. Video of the hearing can be found here.
2023 Accomplishments: Cutting Red Tape
As 2024 kicks off, Senate Republicans will continue our work to cut red tape and improve the experience citizens have when they interact with their government and the agencies intended to help them.
Already this session, we have passed a bill that would improve government efficiency by authorizing the Pennsylvania Treasury Department to return unclaimed property without requiring the owners to search for it. Another legislative measure would ensure Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Medical Assistance benefits are not spent on the deceased.
Legislation I introduced with Sen. Phillips-Hill, Senate Bill 350, would streamline and bring transparency to the process for obtaining permits, licenses and certifications. This bill, which passed the Senate and has been referred to the House State Government Committee, would require state agencies to create an accessible website to explain why a permit application was rejected and enable permit applicants to check their application status. It would also deem a permit, license or certification approved if the agency reviewing the application misses its deadline – giving Pennsylvanians far more predictability than they currently have. This change would also help to attract more business to the state and boost our economy by addressing unreasonable permit delays.
Property Tax Relief is Available for Homeowners
Most homes and farms are eligible for property tax reduction under the Homestead Tax Exemption program.
Under a homestead or farmstead property tax exclusion, the assessed value of each homestead or farmstead is reduced by the same amount before the property tax is computed.
To receive school property tax relief for tax years beginning July 1 or Jan. 1, an application for homestead or farmstead exclusions must be filed by the preceding March 1. School districts are required to notify homeowners by Dec. 31 of each year if their property is not approved for the homestead or farmstead exclusion or if their approval is due to expire. Learn more and find an application.
Around the District
It was a pleasure to host students from the Cumberland Perry Career and Technical Center (CTC), Dauphin County CTC, and Carlisle Area CTC at the Capitol this week. This impressive group asked insightful questions and I thoroughly enjoyed discussing their exciting career plans.
The Northern Dauphin Human Services Center has been an invaluable asset to the community over the last 15 years. Since opening in 2009, the Center’s employees and volunteers have contributed significantly to the health of children and families. I am grateful for the wonderful work they do and was honored to join them in commemoration of their 15th anniversary.
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