It’s a pleasure to share another edition of the First District Connection with you. Today I’d like to tell you about:
- Budget Update
- The Mayor’s Assessed Value Initiative
- My Freedom Keeper Award
- Denouncing the SNAP Asset Test
- Property and Rent Rebates
In the coming weeks, once the legislature returns to Harrisburg, I’ll be sure to update you on the ongoing budget negotiations. As always, thank you for your support and please don’t hesitate to contact me or my staff if we can be of any assistance.
Sen. Larry Farnese
Last week, I voted against the Governor’s $27.6 billion budget (Senate Bill 1466) because an increase of less than two percent over last year's devastating budget cuts is just not enough for our families and children.
The budget makes significant restorations to education, county human service programs, the Accountability Block Grant, early learning programs and libraries. But this budget needs to do more for communities, families and children. The Republicans refused to restore cuts to everything from cancer screening to child care services, and they wouldn’t restore funds for Adult Basic Health Insurance, the General Assistance transition grants and charter school funding, which would do so much for the School District of Philadelphia’s bottom line.
This budget was balanced on the backs of the vulnerable so I voted no, and I will continue to vote no, until the budget represents the needs of the entire commonwealth, not just the needs of some. Sadly the budget, which is now in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for their consideration, passed the Senate by a 39-8 vote.
The Mayor’s Assessed Value Initiative
The City of Philadelphia’s so called Actual Value Initiative (AVI), a comprehensive property reassessment program, will affect more than 500,000 property owners. It’s a much needed reform which I support, but unfortunately it’s being used by the City as a back-door tax increase – a $94 million windfall that would not be allowed by law in any other county or school district in Pennsylvania. I’ve introduced legislation to stop this maneuver and it wouldn’t prevent one penny from being raised for the School District or the thousands of students it serves.
I believe AVI should be used as a comprehensive and transparent process to restore fairness to property taxation in Philadelphia. Doing otherwise threatens to jeopardize the real property tax reform that has been sought for so long in Philadelphia. If you would like to read more, please take a moment to read my recently published op-ed.
Freedom Keeper Award
I was honored to receive Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania's Freedom Keeper Award, and I promise to stand with women and Planned Parenthood to fight any effort that impedes a woman's right to access to their reproductive health care.
Denouncing the SNAP Asset Test
My Senate and House Democratic colleagues and I came together last week to denounce the Republican imposed asset test on the State’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. This move is nothing more than another attempt by the administration to score political points, and it’s not fair to place further burdens on the backs of people who are already hurting and can’t protect themselves.
Under the Corbett administration’s plan, any SNAP recipient under the age of 60 who has more than $5,500 in savings and assets and individuals who are over 60 or disabled who have $9,000 in savings and assets would no longer qualify for the program.
Property and Rent Rebates
Financial help is available if you are:
- 65 or older, a widow or widower 50 or older, or 18 or older and permanently disabled;
- A homeowner and have a total income not exceeding $35,000 a year; or
- A renter and have a total income not exceeding $15,000 annually.
If you meet these qualifications you may be eligible for a property tax or rent rebate. To learn more, or to apply, contact my office at 215-952-3121.