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Friday, June 5, 2015

Capitol Update By Rep. Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, June 05, 2015 The latest news from the State Capitol

Wolf Tax Hikes Voted Down

The House voted unanimously this week against an amendment that would have implemented Gov. Tom Wolf’s income and sales tax hikes that are needed to fund his $33.8 billion budget proposal.

This vote sends a clear message to the governor that support simply does not exist for his proposal that increases state spending by more than 16 percent and funds it with, among other taxes, a 20 percent increase in the income tax, a 10 percent increase in the sales tax, and an expansion of the sales tax to more than 500 products and services, not currently subject to the tax. Items that would be taxed under his plan include everything from diapers and caskets to day care and long-term care services.

I have heard from many area residents concerned about the governor’s tax and spend proposal and how it would impact their household budgets. Even the non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office found the governor’s tax hikes would negatively impact residents all across the state in all income groups.

Now that the governor’s tax plan has been voted down unanimously by members of both political parties, I am hopeful that budget negotiations will start moving us toward a spending plan that is fiscally responsible and focused on funding the core functions of government.

The deadline for the budget to be passed is June 30.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Deadline Extended

Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program application deadline has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31. The program provides property tax and rent relief for eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with permanent disabilities age 18 and older.

The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Fifty percent of Social Security income is excluded when determining eligibility. The maximum standard rebate is $650.

For more information or an application, contact one of my offices listed below:

 • Bradford: 78 Main St., first floor, telephone 814-362-4400.
 • Coudersport: 107 S. Main St., Room 1, telephone 814-274-9769.
 • Kane: 55 Fraley St., telephone 814-837-0880.

Information also is available at the Department of Revenue’s website.

Bill to Aid Retirees Earns Committee Approval

The House Transportation Committee this week approved my legislation to increase the income eligibility limit for the state’s reduced-fee vehicle registration program for retirees.

The program, which offers vehicle registration at a discount rate of $10, is open to any person who is retired and receiving Social Security or other pension income that does not exceed $19,200 annually. House Bill 582 would increase the income eligibility limit to $23,500, the same limit set for the state’s PACENET prescription drug assistance program. The threshold was last increased in 1998.

Additional information about the existing program is available at

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

Measure to Clarify Clean and Green Law Passes House

A bill I introduced to ensure the state’s Clean and Green program is working as it was intended has earned unanimous approval in the House.

Clean and Green was created in 1974 to give preferential assessment to farm and forest lands to encourage their protection. However, in counties that have not conducted a reassessment recently, some Clean and Green properties are being taxed at a rate higher than a normal assessment, and that is counter to the purpose of the law.

House Bill 806 would prohibit counties from taxing Clean and Green properties at a rate greater than fair market value.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Ag Committee to Discuss Avian Influenza Preparedness

Avian influenza is spreading across the Midwest, killing millions of chickens and turkeys. The disease has not found its way to Pennsylvania – yet – but what is the state doing to prepare in case it does?

As chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, I will host an informational meeting next week to discuss the issue. Scheduled to speak at the meeting are Dr. Sherrill Davison, New Bolton Center poultry veterinarian; Chris Pierce, president of Heritage Poultry Management Services Inc., Annville; and state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

The meeting will be streamed live on my website,, starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 10. 

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

The state is broke but PennDot is buying all managers and assistant managers of every county new vehicles. The assistant managers are getting F150 4 wheel drive trucks and the managers are getting Jeeps.
Now isn't that something.