First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Program
I am excited to announce that my Senate Bill 1066 (SB 1066) unanimously passed the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee recently. This legislation would establish a First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Program in Pennsylvania. If enacted into law, this program would provide incentives for first-time homebuyers to save for such things as down payments and closing costs.
Compared to where it was more than a decade ago, home ownership among young adults is low. Nationwide, adults who are 35 years old or younger accounted for a little more than one-third of all homeowners last year, compared with 43.6 percent, at this century’s peak, in 2004. One of the biggest factors contributing to this decline is an increase in student loan debt and debt in general. In fact, a recent study ranked Pennsylvania as having the second highest average college debt per borrower at around $35,000. As a result, many first-time homebuyers are struggling to find the money for a down payment and closing costs.
To help close the gap and allow residents to achieve homeownership, my SB 1066 would allow individuals and their families to open a First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account at a financial institution to put money aside for a future purchase. An accountholder may save up to $50,000 over 10 years with the savings qualifying as a tax deduction on state income tax returns. When taken out, the money can be used for such things as closing costs or a down payment. Individuals who do not use the account to buy a house or if they end up using the money for something other than a home purchase will be responsible for paying the taxes and a penalty on the money.
A recent study by the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors showed that this program could increase home purchases by up to 4,000 annually while also helping to spur additional economic activity, job creation and higher earnings for households. In fact, it is believed that the economic impact on Pennsylvania because of SB 1066 could reach as much as $69 million.
More than 80 percent of commonwealth residents support this type of program that will help individuals and families overcome the financial hurdles of purchasing their first house. For more information about my legislation, please visit www.FirstHomePA.com.
Did You Know…
Did you know the median age of a first-time homebuyer in the United States is 32?
All Senate offices will be closed next Tuesday, May 15 for the Primary Election. My offices will re-open on Wednesday, May 16 as scheduled.
Election Day Information
Next Tuesday, May 15 is Election Day! For any questions related to voting, I encourage everyone to visit www.votespa.com. The website offers information on voting rights, answers to frequently asked questions, and provides you with the ability to confirm your registration and much more.
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the Primary Election is today. All completed absentee ballot applications must be received by the Allegheny County Division of Elections Office no later than 5 p.m. The Elections Office is located in the County Office Building at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Ross Street in downtown Pittsburgh:
542 Forbes Avenue, Room 601
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
When applying in person, as long as you are properly registered, you will be given an absentee ballot on the spot and you will be able to cast your vote right then and there.
If you have already applied for and received your absentee ballot, please know all voted absentee ballots must be received in the Elections Office no later than 5 p.m. this Friday in order to be counted. If you have any questions or need any additional information, please visit the Absentee Ballot page at www.alleghenycounty.us or call 412-350-4520.
Locate Your Polling Place
If you are not sure where to vote on Election Day, or wish to confirm your polling place, Allegheny County and the Pennsylvania Department of State offers a simple-to-use online Polling Place locator. Click on the previous link to get started. Simply enter your county, municipality, house number and street name. Once you have entered that information, your polling place address will be displayed. You may also select “View Ballot” to see the ballot as it will appear before you when you go vote.
If you feel your information is inaccurate in any way, or have any further questions regarding your polling place or ballot, please call 412-350-4500.
Polling Place Changes
There are 20 polling place locations in Allegheny County that have changed since the November 2017 General Election. Voters in these districts have been notified of these changes by mail from the Allegheny County Elections Division. The following are locations in the 42nd Senatorial District that have changed:
||The Thomas Merton Center, 5129 Penn Avenue
||Three Rivers Grace Church, 1028 Chartiers Avenue
Arbors Arch Court Apartments, 1311 Arch Street
||Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 Flag Pole Entrance, 810 Arch Street
How to Register Election Day Complaints
Any registered voter who wishes to file a complaint about alleged election law violations can do so online by visiting www.votespa.com and clicking on the “Election Complaints” tab. The voter will be asked to enter their first and last name, address, county of residence and date of birth to ensure they are a registered voter. Once submitted, these complaint forms will be directed to the county election board in the county in which the voter making the complaint resides.
In Allegheny County, written statements of complaint are available at all polling places and the County Board of Elections. You may also call 1-877-VOTES-PA (1-877-868-3772) to obtain a complaint statement or visit www.votespa.com.
Grants for Libraries
The Office of Commonwealth Libraries invites applications for the 2018 Keystone Grants for Public Libraries program. These grants are funded through the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.
A competitive grant application process is used to award matching grants to municipalities that sponsor state-aided public libraries. These grants may be used for planning, acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public library facilities as outlined in the General Guidelines. To be eligible, the sponsoring municipality and the board of the state-aided library must jointly submit an application developed cooperatively by both entities and signed by their governing bodies.
The maximum Keystone grant award is $750,000 and requires a dollar-for-dollar match. Applicants must show matching funds on hand at the time of the application. There is no minimum amount that may be requested.
Applicants must submit a complete application to the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, postmarked on or before June 15.
The Office of Commonwealth Libraries expects to notify applicants by early September whether they have been awarded a grant.
The application and related Keystone information is available at www.statelibrary.pa.gov.
Slot Machine Revenue Rises Slightly
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced last week that revenue from slot machines in Pennsylvania increased 0.2 percent in April compared with April 2017. Revenue from slot machines in April totaled more than $206 million, a 0.2 percent increase from last April’s slot machine revenue of $205.7 million. Tax revenue collected from slot machines during April totaled more than $107.6 million.
The state’s gaming industry employs over 18,000 people and generates approximately $1.4 billion annually in tax revenue from both slot machines and table games. For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit them online at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
Crime Watch Seminar
The Ingram and Crafton Community Crime Watches are hosting a Crime Watch Seminar focusing on Identity Theft on Tuesday, May 22 at 7 p.m. The Seminar is being held at the Ingram Borough Community Room, located at 40 W. Prospect Avenue. The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office will present the program.
It was on this day in 1884 that the nation’s 33rd President, Harry S. Truman was born. The middle initial “S” in Truman’s name was just that, an “S.” He had no middle name. Truman’s parents gave him the middle initial S to honor his grandfathers. Since the S did not stand for a name, Harry didn’t use a period after it for most of his life. Soon after he was elected president, the editors of the Chicago Style Manual informed Truman that omitting a period after his middle initial was improper grammar and a bad example for America’s youth. From that moment on, the 33rd President signed his name Harry S. Truman or put all the letters in his name together as in HarrySTruman.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol |
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
|Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library |
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212