Subscribe to this e-update.
Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Senator Fontana speaks at the annual Memorial Service at the  Monument Parklet in Beechview on Saturday, May 25th.

Senator Fontana speaks at the annual Memorial Service at the
Monument Parklet in Beechview on Saturday, May 25th.

Saving for College

As the current school year is coming to a close and with tomorrow designated as 529 College Savings Day, I want to let families know about the Pennsylvania 529 college savings plans.  These plans are considered by many financial experts to be one of the best ways to save for college.

The Pennsylvania Treasury Department offers two great tax-advantaged 529 plans to help prepare for future higher education costs – the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP).  The primary difference between the two plans is the way savings grow.  Growth in the PA 529 GSP is based on tuition inflation.  For example, if you save enough for a semester at one of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education universities today, you will have enough for a semester there in the future, no matter when or how much tuition has gone up in the meantime.  Returns in the PA 529 IP are based on financial market performance.  The PA 529 IP features low fees and more than a dozen conservative and aggressive investment options from Vanguard, one of the nation’s largest financial services companies.

Families saving through either plan receive tax-deferred growth on earnings and tax-free withdrawals when funds are used for qualified educational expenses.

PA 529 PA529 The Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program is a tax-advantaged way to help make college more affordable and accessible for Pennsylvania families.  The program currently serves over 167,000 accounts with more than $2.5 billion in assets and can be used at a wide range of schools from the Pennsylvania State University and University of Pittsburgh to trade and career schools.

To encourage more families to save for college in a tax-advantaged way, the PA 529 College Savings Program is offering free enrollment, a $50 savings, for all new PA 529 GSP accounts opened by May 31st.  Simply visit www.PA529.com and use the code “TimeFlies” when prompted.  There is no enrollment fee for the PA 529 IP.

To learn more about the program or to open an account, or contribute to an existing account, please visit www.PA529.com or call 1-800-440-4000.  You may also register for free to watch a webinar on the PA 529 College Savings Program by clicking here.

Did You Know…

Did you know since the Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program began in 1993, more than 20,500 students have saved for college and benefitted from over $64 million in earnings?

Farmers’ Market Vouchers

Qualifying residents of Allegheny County will soon be able to pick up vouchers for locally grown fruits and vegetables.  The Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, provides qualified senior citizens, as well as Women, Infant and Children (WIC) recipients with checks to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from over 1,000 approved farmers in Pennsylvania. 

Voter BoothThe program provides recipients with four $5 vouchers checks for a total year benefit of $20 to redeem at qualified farmers markets or roadside stands.  FMNP runs from June 1 – November 30, with the last day recipients can receive the checks is September 30, 2013.

Some examples of produce that may be purchased under the vouchers are apples, beans, berries, carrots grapes, melons, spinach and tomatoes.  Customers must spend the entire $5.00 check and change will not be given. 

The program's goals are to provide WIC recipients and seniors who are nutritionally at risk a means to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.  FMNP also expands the awareness and use of farmers markets as well as increase sales at these stands which in turn supports locally grown produce and Pennsylvania businesses. 

Farmers will have signs available at their stands if they accept FMNP vouchers.  To find the nearest market or stand that accept FMNP checks, you can also visit http://www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/olderadults.aspx.

Senior Eligibility –

Individuals must be 60 years of age or older and meet the federal income guidelines. The checks are available on a first come first serve basis.  The 2013 household income guidelines are as follows:

# of people in the household   Total income cannot exceed
1 $21,257
2 $28,694
3 $36,131
4 $43,568

*Married couples may each receive one set of checks.

Distribution days for senior vouchers will take place on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at most senior centers in Allegheny County.  Checks are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.  For more information on when and where the checks will be distributed, interested seniors should contact their county aging office by calling 412-350-5460 or visiting:  http://www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/olderadults.aspx.  WIC recipients will receive FMNP vouchers during their quarterly WIC clinic visit.

Register Today for Skills For Success!

Skills for Success - The Fontana Series Skills for Success: The Fontana Series. Register Online! The popular Skills for Success: The Fontana Series got underway last week at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) – Mt. Washington branch.  Three more workshops remain with the next scheduled for this Thursday.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) If you are currently looking for a job, or are interested in boosting your skills that will help you land a desired position, sign up today for one of these free workshops, which will serve as a great resource for you.  I was proud to partner with CLP in 2011, providing grant funding for this free series aimed at building skills and creating excellent resumes and applications that aid job seekers in achieving the positions they desire.  Whether you have already built a resume and are looking to fine-tune it, if you are starting from scratch and need help with organizing your work history, need assistance with searching for positions online, or require help in improving your interviewing skills, there is a place at one of these free workshops for you.

Rachel Masilamani and Richard Brzustowicz are again leading the Skills for Success: The Fontana Series, bringing over 10 years combined experience assisting library visitors with job hunting, online applications and resume writing.  The series features two separate workshops:  one focused on resumes and cover letters, and the other dedicated to interviews and networking.  The series also contains a career lab where attendees can work on online applications and explore library resources that can assist them in the job searching process.

Job seekers today face fierce competition in securing employment.  Take advantage of this free program, Skills for Success: The Fontana Series, and learn the ins and outs of the job searching process that will give you an advantage. Registration is required for workshops; however, walk-ins are welcome for the career labs.  To register for any of the remaining workshops please call 412-281-7141, ext. 2012 or email careerworkshops@carnegielibrary.org.

CLP – Mt. Washington
315 Grandview Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
Thursday, May 30 – Interviewing & Networking 
Thursday, June 6 – Resumes & Cover Letters
Thursday, June 13 – Interviewing & Networking
Workshops: 1-3 p.m., Career Labs: 3-5 p.m.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

I want to remind everyone that the deadline to submit applications for the 2012 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is June 30th.  If you are a Pennsylvanian age 65 and older, a person with a disability 18 and older, or a widow or widower age 50 and older, you may be eligible.  Income limits are $35,000 for homeowners and $15,000 for renters.  The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can potentially increase rebates to $975.

If you need help with completing the claim form (PA-1000) please visit one of my district offices and my staff will gladly assist.

Three Rivers Arts Festival Returns

Three Rivers Arts FestivalThe Three Rivers Arts Festival, hosted by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is scheduled for June 7th-16th in downtown Pittsburgh.  The annual event connects the community to arts and culture and has grown into the region’s largest multidisciplinary showcase of visual art and performing arts over the last 54 years.  Artists will be on hand selling original, handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces of art including jewelry, paintings, woodworking and photography.  Once again this year, the Arts Festival will feature music, theater, and dance performances and a wide variety of food vendors.

The Arts Festival’s many activities and displays encompass Point State Park, Gateway Center and the Cultural District.  The Artist Market and Gallery Exhibitions are open daily from noon – 8 p.m. and the Giant Eagle Creativity Zone is open daily from noon – 6 p.m.   

For more information about the Arts Festival including maps, participating artists, musical performances, and schedules of events, please visit www.3riversartsfest.org.

Brookline Business Feature

Mazza Shoe Store & RepairThis week’s featured Brookline business is Mazza Shoe Store & Repair, located at 618 Brookline Boulevard.  This family owned business, owned by Vincent Mazza of Brookline, has been in business 54 years.  Offering shoe repairs, Mazza Shoe Store & Repair is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – noon.  You can reach the store at 412-341-7493.

Please continue to support local merchants during the Brookline Boulevard Streetscape Project and remember:

Brookline is open for business!

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Fontana Fact

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court was created by the Provincial Assembly in 1722, predating the U.S. Supreme Court by 67 years.  Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court was the only independent court in the early 1700’s with the power to declare laws made by an elected legislative body unconstitutional.  Today, the Supreme Court meets in three places, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

  Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Fax: 412-344-3400
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol
Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plz.
524 Pine Hollow Rd
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Fax: 412-331-2079
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone: 412-343-2080
Fax: 412-343-2418
Three Rivers Arts Festival Returns Property Tax/Rent Rebate