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Friday, March 13, 2015

Capitol Update by Rep. Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, March 13, 2015 The latest news from the State Capitol

I was honored to serve as guest speaker at the Kane Volunteer Fire Department’s annual banquet last weekend. I admire the hard work and dedication of these volunteers who do so much to protect public safety in our communities. Pictured left to right are Brian Nelson, fire department president and master of ceremonies; Tim Holt, fire chief; me; Tom Brinkley, who was honored for 55 years of service as a firefighter; the Rev. Philip Pinczewski, fire department chaplain; Rhonda Holt, chairman of the banquet committee; and Tom Aiello, who received a certificate of appreciation for his service as a firefighter and longtime state instructor for firefighters.  

House Budget Hearings in Full Swing

The House Appropriations Committee has completed its first week of hearings on Gov. Tom Wolf’s $33.8 billion spending plan. Among the state agencies testifying this week was the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. As chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, I was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the hearing and asked Acting Secretary Russell Redding about a proposed increase in “general government operations” funding for the department while proven programs, including the Hardwoods Development Council, are eliminated from the plan. I told the secretary it was important to work together to restore funding for these programs, which are vital the industry.

Budget hearings continue next week with some key departments set to testify, including Education, Conservation and Natural Resources, Transportation and Corrections. For a full schedule of hearings, click here.

The governor unveiled his budget proposal last week, outlining an estimated $4.7 billion in new spending and several tax proposals to pay for it, including a 21 percent increase in the Personal Income Tax; a 10 percent increase in the sales tax, which will be broadened to apply to many more products and services; a severance tax on natural gas drilling; and an increase in the cigarette tax. To learn more about his budget proposal, click here.

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Apply Now for DCNR Fire Assistance Grants

Applications are now available for Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Grants may be used for the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment, wildfire protective gear, wildfire prevention and mitigation, wildfire training mobile or portable radios, and installation of dry hydrants. Funds also may be used for certain projects involving the conversion and maintenance of federal excess vehicles received from the Bureau of Forestry and used for fire suppression. The application period is open now through May 21. For complete guidelines and to apply, click here.

Need Help with Your 2014 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application?

Just a reminder that my office is hosting two Property Tax/Rent Rebate clinics next week to provide free assistance with filing the applications for eligible senior citizens and people with disabilities. The clinics will be held as follows on Tuesday, March 17:

 • Ulysses Senior Center, 522 Main St., Ulysses – 9-10 a.m.  
 • Oswayo Valley Senior Center, 106 S. Oswayo St., Shinglehouse – noon to 1 p.m.
No appointment is necessary, but be sure to bring the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process your claim quickly and accurately.
Free assistance also is available at my offices:  
 • Bradford: 78 Main St., First Floor – 814-362-4400. 
 • Coudersport: 107 S. Main St., Room 1 – 814-274-9769. 
 • Kane: 55 Fraley St. – 814-837-0880.

Additional information and claim forms are available at

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