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Friday, November 13, 2015

Capitol Update By Rep. Martin Causer

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

Budget Negotiations Continue

House and Senate leaders, along with the Wolf administration, this week announced an agreement on a general framework for the adoption of a 2015-16 state budget. While there are still many details to be worked out, I am hopeful we will have a budget in place within the next few weeks.

The framework largely reflects the priorities House Republicans have been fighting for during the last six months. We have been working toward a fiscally responsible budget that keeps spending in check, further increases funding for public education, addresses property tax relief, and implements major reforms to the state’s pension systems and wine and spirits sales.

I am pleased the proposal does not include an increase in the Personal Income Tax. However, it does include a proposal to increase the state’s Sales and Use Tax to fund property tax relief for homeowners. I am concerned about the impact of this sales tax increase, and about how much property tax relief it would actually provide to people in our region. I am also concerned about how increased funding for education will be allocated across the state. These details are not yet available, but rest assured I will be taking a close look at them before casting my vote on the budget and related bills.

Veterans Service Officer in Coudersport

A veterans field service officer with the American Legion will be available to assist veterans at my Coudersport office (107 S. Main St.) next Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Assistance with services such as compensation, education, pension, health care and death benefits is available, by appointment, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To schedule an appointment, please call the office at 814-274-9769. Veterans need not be a member of the American Legion to use the service.

Closing Another Public Assistance Loophole

The state House approved legislation this week to help protect taxpayer dollars and prevent recipients of public assistance from collecting benefits in more than one state.

House Bill 1322 would require applicants for general assistance in Pennsylvania to disclose any previous states in which they collected public benefits within the last five years. The bill also would require the Department of Human Services to notify other states of the change in residency of the applicant.

There is nothing in current law that prevents all applicants for public assistance from receiving benefits from the state of Pennsylvania in addition to the state in which they previously resided.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Flu Vaccine Clinics Announced

To help protect against the flu, the state Department of Health is hosting a series of flu shot clinics to provide vaccines at little or no cost to uninsured/underinsured adults and children. The cost is $5 per person for individuals and families who fall above income guidelines; however, no one will be turned away for an inability to pay. The schedule in our area is as follows:
  • Cameron County: Nov. 19 and Dec. 10, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Memorial Hall, 300 Chestnut St., Emporium. Call 814-834-5351 for an appointment.
  • McKean County: Nov. 18 and Dec. 10, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., McKean County Health Center, 84-90 Boylston St., Bradford. Call 814-368-0426 for an appointment.
  • Potter County: Nov. 17 and Dec. 9, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Gunzburger Building, 1 Main St., Coudersport. Call 570-724-2911 for an appointment.
The Department of Health is encouraging all Pennsylvanians over six months of age to get a flu vaccine. Infants and children, seniors, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions are especially susceptible to developing flu-related complications. 

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