February 8, 2019
Response to Governor’s Proposed Budget
On Tuesday, February 5, Governor Tom Wolf presented his budget proposal for the 2019-20 Fiscal year to the General Assembly. Under his proposal, state spending would be $34.1 billion, a $927.3 million increase from the current fiscal year. Although, that does not include tens of millions of dollars of line items that would be funded through outside sources.
The Governor’s request includes an extra $166 million for Basic Education, a $50 million increase for early childhood education and an extra $50 million for special education funding. The State System of Higher Education (including Bloomsburg University) would receive an additional $7 million, while community colleges and state-related universities would see level funding.
While I am very pleased to see that the Governor is not proposing any broad-based tax increases, I am concerned with his continued effort to tax Marcellus shale beyond the current local impact fees already being charged that have generated over $1.7 billion during the past 7 years. I am also concerned with his plan to charge residents in rural areas a fee for state police coverage if they do not already have local police protection.
I look forward to carefully studying the details of the Governor’s proposal and working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to craft a state budget agreement that meets the needs of our citizens without undue burden on their hard-earned money.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will begin their budget hearings on February 11. They will be broadcast on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN).
Bloomsburg Flood Wall Groundbreaking
The groundbreaking ceremony for the second phase of the Bloomsburg Flood Wall will occur on March 29, 2019. Numerous dignitaries from federal, state and local government will be on hand at the event to commemorate the commencement of this essential project.
The Town and the Bloomsburg Area School District have gone through the bidding process and the low-bidder has been identified. Once completed, the school, fire hall, public works building, 30 businesses and approximately 120 homes will be protected from the massive flood events that are prevalent in the area. Construction is expected to take approximately 16 months to complete.
I had a great time playing indoor mini golf with my son at a fundraiser for the McBride Library
State Income Tax Filing Assistance Now Available
Pennsylvanians may download forms to file 2018 personal income taxes in the traditional manner prior to the Monday, April 15, 2019 midnight deadline. For electronic filers, Padirectfile is available for state-only personal income tax or PA Free File is a no-charge option to file federal and state taxes at the same time, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
The Department offers the PA Personal Income Tax Guide. The Guide provides a brief overview, filing requirements, and expands on a broad range of tax-related topics from debts to dividends. Find Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the Customer Support page or confidentially submit a specific question.
Refunds for electronically filed returns are estimated to arrive in approximately 4 weeks, while 8 to 10 weeks are required to process paper forms. While waiting on a refund, check the status online or call 717-787-8201 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. An automated toll-free information line is available at 1-888-PATAXES.
Pennsylvania Department of Revenue: https://www.revenue.pa.gov/
PA Personal Income Tax Guide: https://www.revenue.pa.gov/FormsandPublications/PAPersonalIncomeTaxGuide/Pages/default.aspx
Frequently Asked Questions: https://revenue-pa.custhelp.com/app/home
I was pleased to recently take a site visit to Stumps Run with Middleburg Borough officials to examine a potential storm water project.
Financial Options Open to Those With Disabilities
Individuals with qualifying disabilities and their families may save for a wide range of disability-related expenses through state-offered savings and investment options authorized under the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience program (PA ABLE), according to the PA Treasurer’s Office.
Individuals with a disability and their families are encouraged to save funds to support their loved one’s health, independence, and quality of life without affecting eligibility for state or federal means-tested benefits.
Six of seven investment opportunities include conservative to aggressive Asset-Allocation Options. The seventh option is a FDIC-insured interest-bearing checking account with a debit card. See Frequently Asked Questions for answers regarding eligibility and qualified expenses.
Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience: https://www.paable.gov/overview/
Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.paable.gov/faqs/#collapseSixLeftTwentyFive
Qualified expenses: https://www.paable.gov/expenses/
Ice and Snow – Remove It Before You Go
Following injuries and deaths as a result of snow and ice striking vehicles and individuals, Pennsylvania passed a law requiring drivers to remove ice and snow before driving. When snow or ice is dislodged or falls from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious bodily injury, the operator of the vehicle from which the snow or ice is dislodged or falls is subject to a fine of not less than $200 nor more than $1,000 for each offense.
The PSP remind drivers that lights must be turned on any time the vehicle’s windshield wipers are in continuous or intermittent use due to rain, snow, sleet, or mist.
Pennsylvania State Police: https://www.psp.pa.gov/
Remove ice and snow before driving: https://www.psp.pa.gov/public-safety/pages/rules-of-the-road.aspx
Lights must be turned on: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=75&div=0&chpt=43
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