It’s a pleasure to share another edition of the First District Connection with you. Today I’d like to:
- Tell you about Pennsylvania’s new budget;
- Remind you that the application deadline for Property Tax/Rent Rebates has been extended; and
- Tell you about Fun Safe Philly Summer.
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
PA’s New $27 Billion Budget
Budget in Brief:
Programs that will see a spending increase: 43 percent increase for school-employee pensions, 5 percent increase for debt payment, 0.9 percent increase for public schools, and less than 0.5 percent for the Department of Public Welfare;
Programs that will see a spending decrease: $319 million from the elimination of cash payments from the General Assistance Program and new work requirements, 9.5 percent decrease in financial assistance for college students, 8.7 percent decrease for the Department of Environmental Protection, and.3 percent decrease for the Legislature;
Programs that will see no change in spending: the 14 State System of Higher Education universities, community colleges, kindergarten grants, and the Corrections Department.
Minutes before the Pennsylvania’s Fiscal Year 2011-2012 budget expired, Governor Corbett signed into law a new, approximately $27.66 billion Fiscal Year 2012-2013 budget. I voted against it because it is not good for Pennsylvanians and turns a blind eye to our friends and neighbors who are doing all they can to survive this challenging economy.
The news is not all bad because we were able to reverse many of the governor’s drastic cuts to education, including $100 million to the Accountability Block Grant, which helps schools fund essential programs, including kindergarten. We were also able to reach a compromise and provide $50 million for distressed school districts, as well as reinstate higher and basic education cuts. But there are some serious problems with the budget, especially when it comes to funding human service and public welfare programs.
The budget eliminated $150 million from the General Assistance Transition Grants. The nominal monthly funds received through this program are an essential last-resort safety net for abused women, the disabled and children without custodial parents. The budget also made $84 million in reductions for county human service programs and included deep cuts to mental health services, homeless assistance and drug and alcohol programs.
I think this budget reflects the misplaced priorities of Governor Corbett and the Republican legislative majority. On one hand it cuts welfare and human service funding; on the other it gives $375 million in tax breaks to Pennsylvania businesses. All the while, Pennsylvania has a projected $400 million, year-end surplus. For all these reasons, I voted against this budget.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application Deadline Extended
The deadline to apply for Pennsylvania's Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31. The program is for Pennsylvanians age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older, and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. The maximum standard rebate is $650 but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can be up to $975. Forms and related information is available at www.revenue.state.pa.us or by calling 1-888-222-9190.
Fun Safe Philly Summer
Fun Safe Philly Summer offers more than 15,000 structured summer opportunities for area youth at 140 of Philadelphia’s parks and recreation sites. Paired with structured programming, the City of Philadelphia wants you to know about in drop-in activities at recreation centers, public libraries, pools, KEYSPOT computer centers and more. For a full list of dates and times call 3-1-1 or log on to www.phila.gov/youthprograms.