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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Senator Fontana participated in a panel discussion at the 2016 Homeless Children’s Education Fund Government Relations Briefing on March 18.
Senator Fontana participated in a panel discussion at the 2016 Homeless Children’s Education Fund Government Relations Briefing on March 18.  He was joined on the state portion of the panel with Nancy Hubley – Pittsburgh Director, Education Law Center, Patricia Hozella – Director, Bureau of Special Education, PA Department of Education, and Carmen Medina, Chief, Division of Student Services, PA Department of Education.

Budget Update

capitolPennsylvania is currently operating on a $23.4 billion budget which is nearly $6 billion less than last year.  The results are that schools are borrowing more and more every day to avoid closure while critical programs, like Penn State’s agricultural extension offices and 4H programs, have threatened mass layoffs and to shut down.  All the while, the commonwealth’s credit rating continues to decline while the structural deficit climbs.  We cannot keep running on one-time transfers and maneuvers which is exactly what the most recent budget passed by the General Assembly does.  This is both an irresponsible and unbalanced approached.

I am calling on Governor Wolf to blue line, meaning cut or eliminate several lines, instead of a total veto on the recently passed spending plan.  I feel that this is the best approach to keeping schools open and averting mass layoffs by hospitals and universities while waiting for state aid.  We cannot continue to play politics with children’s education and people’s livelihoods.  A blue-line will allow state monies to continue to flow to designated programs and educational facilities to finish their year while negotiations continue.  After all, inadequate funding on the state’s part should not be forcing schools to make tough decisions.  

Offices Closed

All Senate offices will be closed on Friday, March 25 in observance of Good Friday.  My offices will re-open as scheduled on Monday, March 28.

Lawrenceville Mobile Office

I want to remind everyone that I will be opening a mobile office in Lawrenceville next week.  The mobile office will be open each Thursday, beginning March 31, at the Carnegie Library - Lawrenceville, located at 279 Fisk Street, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.  This office will replace the Strip District mobile office at the Pittsburgh Public Market.

Below is an updated schedule for all of my district offices including satellite and mobile offices.

 

Brookline
932 Brookline Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA  15226
Phone – 412-344-2551
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Beechview (satellite office)
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA  15216
Phone – 412-343-2080
Tuesdays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza, 500 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp., PA  15136
Phone – 412-331-1208
Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Northside Mobile Office
Carnegie Library
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA  15212
Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Lawrenceville Mobile Office (BEGINNING MARCH 31)
Carnegie Library
279 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA  15201
Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Voter Registration Deadline

Vote PA Voter Registration The deadline to register to vote in the April 26 Primary Election is quickly approaching.  Anyone not registered to vote who wishes to vote in the April 26 Primary Election must register by next Monday, March 28.  Remember, voter registration can now be done online.  Simply visit www.votespa.com to get started.  In addition to registering to vote, current registered voters can also use the online system to make updates to their voter record, such as a change of name, address, or party affiliation.

Anyone wishing to register with a paper application can obtain an application from any of my district offices, or by downloading one at www.votespa.com.  Completed applications can be returned by mail to the Allegheny County Division of Elections and must be postmarked by March 28 in order to be processed prior to the April 26 Primary Election.  You can also register by completing an application in person at the Division of Elections office.  The location of the Allegheny County Division of Elections office is listed below.  For any questions related to registering to vote, please contact 412-350-4510.

            Attn: Voter Registration Services
            Allegheny County Division of Elections
            542 Forbes Avenue, Room 609
            Pittsburgh, PA  15219

You may also click here to view the PA Department of State’s Everyone.VotesPA campaign and receive additional information about voting in Pennsylvania.

Senior Community Center Grants

Senior CenterThe Pennsylvania Department of Aging announced last week a grant funding opportunity for Pennsylvania’s Senior Community Centers that includes $2 million to be awarded from 2015-16 fiscal year funds.  The grants provide funding for Pennsylvania Senior Community Centers to increase participation, provide innovative programs, attract a new generation of older adults, and provide a safe and healthy environment for participants.  Minimum awards are $5,000 and maximum awards are $150,000.

The grant application period runs through April 19 at 5 p.m.  Application submission instructions, required documents, and other resources can be accessed by clicking here or by visiting www.aging.pa.gov.  Questions about the grant program and application process can be directed to Suzanne Bellotti, the Program Coordinator at 717-772-1221 or RA-paseniorcenters@pa.gov.

Table Games Revenue Increases

table gamesThe Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced last week that gross revenue from table games play at the state’s 12 casinos increased by 6.7 percent in February, compared to the same month in 2015.  Gross revenue from table games in February was over $68 million, compared to the nearly $64 million in revenue in February 2015.  Total tax revenue generated during February from table games play was over $9.7 million.

The increase in table games revenue coupled with the earlier reported 9.3 percent increase in slots revenue for February resulted in an overall gaming revenue increase for February of 8.6 percent compared with last February.

Table games in Pennsylvania are taxed at 14 percent with the majority of that revenue directed into the state’s General Fund and the remaining funds directed to local governments.  Slot machines are taxed at 55 percent in Pennsylvania and directed as follows:  34 percent for property tax reduction; 12 percent supporting the horse racing industry; five percent is placed in a state economic development fund; and two percent goes to local governments that host casinos.

The state’s gaming industry employs over 17,700 people and generates an average of $3.7 million per day in tax revenue from both table games and slot machines.  For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.

Free Tax Preparation Assistance

taxesThe United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Money in Your Pocket Coalition are taking appointments from low- and moderate-income workers in need of assistance with preparing their tax returns.  In mid-January, 16 free tax preparation sites opened around Allegheny County where trained, IRS-certified volunteers are available to prepare tax returns for qualifying individuals.  Households with a total income of $52,000 or less in 2015 may qualify for free tax preparation assistance.

All 16 locations throughout the County are by appointment only.  For more information on the program, what you need to bring to an appointment, and to view all 16 locations, please visit www.swpafreetaxes.org.  To schedule an appointment you may dial 2-1-1 to contact the United Way’s free 24-hour health and human services hotline.  The Free Tax Preparation Program runs through April 15.

Did You Know…

Did you know that last year 345 trained volunteers prepared more than 10,000 tax returns, returning almost $14 million to the local economy?

McKees Rocks Community Flea Market

For nine consecutive Sundays beginning April 3, the McKees Rocks Community Flea Market will be held in the Municipal Lot on Furnace Street in McKees Rocks.  The Flea Market will run April 3, 10, 17, and 24 and May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29 from 8 a.m. 3 p.m.

For more information including information on vendor tables please email mckeesrockscommunityfleamarket@gmail.com.

Fontana Fact

On March 18, 1816, 200 years ago last Friday, Pittsburgh officially became a city.  At that time, Pittsburgh had between 5,000 and 6,000 residents.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Fax: 412-344-3400
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol
Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza
524 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Fax: 412-331-2079
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
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Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone: 412-343-2080
Fax: 412-343-2418
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library
Allegheny Branch
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm