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Friday, January 23, 2015

Capitol Update

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Capitol Update
Friday, January 23, 2015 The latest news from the State Capitol


House Committees Ready to Conduct Business

Speaker of the House Mike Turzai finalized the makeup of the 26 standing committees of the state House on Wednesday. In addition to serving as chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, I was formally appointed to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, a committee on which I have served throughout my tenure in the House.

My top priority as a member of Environmental Resources and Energy will continue to be advocating for our conventional oil and gas producers to ensure they are not driven out of business by unnecessary and very costly regulations. During the last session, we passed legislation requiring the state’s Environmental Quality Board to create separate regulations for the conventional and unconventional industries with the goal being to ensure the regulations are both reasonable and relevant to each type of activity.

The Senate is already advancing legislation to reinforce this effort with the creation of a Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council. Senate Bill 279 is awaiting a vote by the full Senate, and upon approval, its next stop would be the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. I will work to ensure this bill advances through the committee and the full House, and ultimately to the governor’s desk.

December Revenues Up But Budget Shortfall Expected

The December revenue report is in, and it shows the Commonwealth received $2.7 billion in General Fund revenue, approximately $162 million more than expected. Across the board, revenue collections were above estimates, including corporation taxes, sales taxes and Personal Income Tax collections.

Six months into the fiscal year, the General Fund stands at $13.3 billion, $271 million above estimate. However, it is still estimated that the state will end the fiscal year with a budget shortfall of at least $2 billion, making this another challenging budget year.

Newly inaugurated Gov. Tom Wolf will offer his budget proposal to the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 3.

Another Step Toward Government Transparency

Building on the success of PennWATCH, the comprehensive and searchable database of state budget and spending information, a new website offering financial information about the state’s school districts was unveiled recently.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education added the financial data to its existing School Performance Profile website, offering taxpayers access to public school district spending statewide, including total revenues, total expenditures, per-pupil expenditures and average staff salaries. The website tracks not only traditional school districts, but also charter and cyber charter schools, and comprehensive career and technology centers.

Please note, financial information is listed according to school district ONLY, not by individual schools. To view the financial data, select a school district and then click “view district information.” From that page, click “view fiscal information” in the upper right corner.  

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