March 10, 2020
Coronavirus in Pennsylvania
As you are aware, there is currently a global epidemic involving a Coronavirus called COVID-19. Be assured that your state government is taking this situation seriously and that many experts have been meeting on a regular basis to coordinate our response.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill. Individuals most at risk for severe symptoms include elderly and those with conditions that leave them immune-compromised.
Pennsylvanians are reminded to:
To date, there are 755 cases and 26 deaths in the United States. At the time of this publication, the number of presumptive positive cases in Pennsylvania is currently 11 with no deaths. The department expects cases to continue to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks but wants everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of the virus. The department also said due to the rapidly changing nature of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it is important for families to be prepared.
Major health insurers in Pennsylvania have announced they are taking the necessary steps to cover medically appropriate COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment for consumers, and have committed to waive any cost-sharing for the testing. This increased access to testing is especially critical as multiple commercial medical labs are in the process of implementing testing capabilities and some have begun to perform tests.
For more information about COVID-19 and Pennsylvania’s response to this outbreak, please visit: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx
State Budget Update
The Senate will reconvene at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, March 16th after three weeks of budget hearings. If you missed the hearings, you can access the Budget Hearings Recap including video of the hearings and a summary with key issues on the PA Senate GOP’s website.
Keep up with what is going on in the Senate at www.pasen.gov. At this page, you can access the Senate Calendar, recent roll call votes, a schedule of upcoming committee meetings, a link to watch Session live and more. You can also search for bills and resolutions, legislation enacted, and amendments via the advanced search page.
Votes PA Available to Help Educate PA Voters
Pennsylvania voters have a new resource to prepare to go to the polls on April 28th. Votes PA offers information on how to register to vote, an online application for mail-in and absentee ballots, information on newly implemented election reforms made by Act 77 of 2019 and a webpage for each county’s new voting system.
The webpages for each county’s voting system includes a description of the voting system, along with photos and videos that guide voters through a step-by-step process of how to use the system. The webpages also include accessibility information for voters with disabilities and contact information for county election offices if voters have additional questions.
On April 1st, the U.S. Census Bureau will be counting all residents living in the United States. Everyone counts, regardless of age, gender or citizenship status. The census makes note of demographic changes and reports the statistics. The information is used to determine how many seats each state receives in the U.S. House of Representatives. State officials use the statistics to redraw U.S. congressional and state legislative districts.
Census data are also used to decide how $675 billion in federal public funding is spent every year. Pennsylvania gets $26.8 billion annually through 16 of the largest federally funded programs. That is about $2,000 per Pennsylvanian each year. These numbers may change based on the 2020 Census data. Federal funding supports many programs and services for Pennsylvanians, including healthcare, food security, education, transportation, housing, community development, support for families, and more. Your response matters!
Learn more about the 2020 Census, your role as a resident, and explore ideas and downloadable materials you can use to help spread the word about the upcoming census.
Pennsylvania 529 College and Career Savings Program
The Pennsylvania 529 College and Career Savings Program provides a smart, tax advantaged way for families to save for education. Administered by the Pennsylvania Treasury, PA 529 offers two plans: the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan, in which growth is tied to the rate of college tuition inflation, and the PA 529 Investment Plan, in which investment returns are determined by financial markets.
Not only are contributions deductible from your Pennsylvania state income tax, the entire value of your account is exempt from Pennsylvania inheritance tax. Assets held in a PA 529 plan are not counted when determining state financial aid for college. Pennsylvanians can now also send state tax refunds directly to a PA 529 College and Career Savings account.
PA Personal Income Tax Return Filing Options
Padirectfile is a free and secure way to file your return directly with the PA Department of Revenue. PA e-file is a free option to file your federal and state taxes simultaneously. Click here for a PA Personal Income Tax Guide and to download paper forms.
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