Senator Rothman E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Begins Review of Proposed State Budget
  • Ag Freedom Legislation Would Benefit Farmers and Sportsmen
  • Free Webinars Provide Helpful Financial Aid Info
  • Recognizing National FFA Week
  • Around the District

Senate Begins Review of Proposed State Budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee began public hearings this week on the proposed 2024-25 state budget.

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget plan would increase state spending by more than $3.2 billion, or about 7.1% above the current year’s budget. Projections indicate it will be all but impossible to balance budgets in the next five years without deep spending cuts and massive tax increases.

Among the highlights:

The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) hearing focused on the commonwealth’s ongoing structural deficit and future financial standing. The IFO’s projected revenues for 2024-25 are $825 million lower than those from the Shapiro administration. Additionally, the IFO director projected the current fund balance and Rainy Day Fund – the state’s emergency savings account – would both run out in 2026-27 under the governor’s budget.  He also acknowledged that inflation and job loss are to be expected, should the governor’s proposed budget be enacted as-is.  Watch here.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) budget hearing included questions about how the new governance model for PASSHE and community colleges would be structured and when the transition would happen. Unfortunately, very little information was available. PASSHE’s chancellor was not included in the work group planning the merger, which caused concerns.  Watch here.

At the Department of Corrections and Pennsylvania Parole Board budget hearing, the committee sought an explanation for Shapiro’s new funding for the department totaling $229 million, which is $74 million more than the department requested. This followed the department overspending its 2023-24 budget by $100 million. The need to curb excessive spending on overtime was also discussed.

At the Department of Community and Economic Development budget hearing, the committee asked about the negative impacts of Pennsylvania’s burdensome permit process and tax penalties on startup businesses that don’t turn an immediate profit. Members also discussed the governor’s Main Street Matters program, which he wants to fund at more than four times the amount of a similar program that already exists.

Thursday’s hearings include the Department of Labor and Industry and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Find the hearings schedule, livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at

Ag Freedom Legislation Would Benefit Farmers and Sportsmen

Yesterday, in response to escalating agricultural crop damage as well as calls from sportsmen to open up more hunting opportunities, Sen. Elder Vogel, Jr. and I introduced legislation aimed at addressing both issues.  The Ag Freedom Package would give agricultural producers more freedom to mitigate crop damage on their farms by eliminating burdensome regulations.  It would also increase hunting opportunities for sportsmen while protecting private property rights, which makes this legislation a win for all involved.

The Ag Freedom Package is comprised of four bills:

  • SB 1086 seeks to provide common-sense procedural relief for farmers registered in crop deprivation programs, allowing them to transport animals to processors, thereby saving time, reducing waste, and maximizing donations to charitable feeding programs.
  • SB 1087 would stiffen penalties for trespassing on private property.
  • SB 1088 would establish an optional, non-public “Ag Access List” for those seeking more hunting opportunities.  The list would be shared only with farmers requesting crop damage assistance from hunters.
  • SB 1089 would add a tenth seat to the Game Commission Board from the agriculture community. Most deer in Pennsylvania are harvested on private lands, many of which are farms.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee.

Free Webinars Provide Helpful Financial Aid Info

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding free webinars to assist college-bound students and their families with navigating the financial aid process.

Speakers will discuss planning for higher education financing, comparing financial aid offers and understanding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Register to attend the one-hour webinars, which run through July.

Recognizing National FFA Week

As agriculture is one of Pennsylvania’s top industries, it is important to recognize National FFA Week, which runs from Feb. 17-24.

Farmers work hard so we can enjoy fresh, local fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses and milk. They help to reduce our dependence on other countries for our food supply so we don’t need to worry about being able to put food on the table.

A group of young farmers founded FFA in 1928, and the organization continues to play an important role in attracting future generations. After all, agriculture is more than planting and harvesting – it involves science, business and more.

Around the District

Our communities are indebted to the brave men and women who volunteer with our local fire companies. They stand ever ready to protect our families and homes in the event of an emergency. I’m always honored to meet with first responders. It was a pleasure to stop by Northeast Fire and Rescue in East Pennsboro this past week to discuss recruitment, retention, and plans for the future.


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