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Friday, April 8, 2016

Capitol Update By PA Rep. Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, April 08, 2016 The latest news from the State Capitol

Rural Schools Lose Out With Governor’s Distribution of Education Funds

The 2015-16 state budget included the highest amount of state funding ever for public schools in Pennsylvania, but if you’ve read the local papers or talked with local school officials, you know budgets are still tight for our rural schools.

That’s why ensuring fair distribution of state funds is so important…and why it was so disturbing to see Gov. Tom Wolf reject the fair funding formula developed by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission in favor of his own ideas. The governor’s plan sends more than half of the new money appropriated to just three school districts: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Chester Upland.

While the remaining 497 school districts will still see more funding than they received last year, many will not receive as much as they should have under the fair funding formula.

Locally, school districts in the 67th Legislative District stand to receive about $515,000 less solely due to the governor’s actions. For most of our school districts, the reduction amounts to about 1 percent or less of their total state funding, but for the Austin Area School District it amounts to more than 5 percent. Austin is among the school districts statewide with the greatest need.

I am disappointed in the governor’s actions. Not only is his formula unfair to rural schools, but it’s also highly questionable that he has the authority to just pick and choose his own education funding formula, which is typically outlined in state statute. The governor vetoed the bill that included the Basic Education Funding Commission’s formula in March.

Veto Threatens Conventional Oil and Gas Industry

In case you missed it, the Bradford Era printed an article I prepared about how the governor’s veto of the fiscal code bill is impacting the conventional oil and gas industry in our region. You can read the full article here

Testifying Before the Congressional Ag Committee

I have been asked by Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson to appear before the House Committee on Agriculture in Washington, D.C., next week to discuss the impacts of the oil and gas industry on rural economies like ours.

I look forward to the opportunity to share our story with representatives from all over the country as Congress considers issues impacting oil and gas and other energy industries.

The hearing will take place on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Longworth House Office Building.

House to Consider Changes to Statute of Limitations Laws

To help victims of sexual assault, the House may vote next week on legislation to remove the criminal statute of limitations on sexual assault cases, and to expand the statute on civil cases until the victim reaches the age of 50.

Currently, adult victims of sexual assault have 12 years to report the crime in Pennsylvania, as do victims under the age of 18 before August 2002. Sexual assault victims under the age of 18 born after August 2002 have 32 years after their 18th birthday to file criminal charges. On the civil side, a victim currently has until the age of 30 to file a lawsuit.

House Bill 1947, which passed the House Judiciary Committee this week, is designed to protect children and ensure that victims are able to hold their abusers accountable for their crimes and to better seek damages for the pain they’ve endured.

Veterans Assistance Hours in Bradford Monday

If you are a veteran in need of assistance with issues such as compensation, education, pension, health care or death benefits, Melissa Davis of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will be at the Bradford office on Monday, April 11, from 1-3 p.m. No appointments are necessary.

For information about future veterans outreach dates and locations, click here

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