2016-17 General Budget
Act 16A which is the 2016-17 General Fund budget became law on July 12, 2016. Overall, this $31.53 budget is a responsible and balanced spending plan that provides critical funding and resources to important services and programs. However, like all negotiated agreements, there are areas I support – and areas I don’t support.
I am particularly pleased by the Legislature’s bipartisan agreement to provide over $250 million in increased funding for our public schools. This places school funding at an historical high of $5.9 billion – and actually exceeds the level of education dollars distributed during the federal stimulus funding years. The additional funding is split up as follows:
Increased amounts for Pre-K through Grade 12 education:
- $200 million for Basic Education.
- $20 million for Special Education.
- $30 million for Pre-K and Head Start early childhood education programs.
I would also like to highlight that this year’s budget provides a 2.5 percent funding increase, or $40 million more, for higher education including state supported universities and community colleges; as well as an additional $7.7 million for Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) students grant and loan programs.
The health and wellbeing of the commonwealth’s citizens are not forgotten under the 2016-17 spending plan:
- $750,000 for the State Food Purchase Program (food banks and assistance).
- Increases spending in the Department of Human Services over $537 million, to nearly $12 billion.
- Intellectual disability services funding for graduating high school seniors and additional individuals on the emergency waiting list. It also, provides access to adult autism services for more individuals.
- Increased support for domestic violence, rape crisis and legal services programs.
- Support for vocational rehabilitation programs.
It is also important to emphasize that this budget increases spending on programs and services without any broad-based tax increases like personal income tax or the sales tax.
In the coming weeks, I will highlight some of the other budget-related bills that passed in which programs like the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) saw a significant increase as well as the film tax credit program which has been very beneficial and an economic driver to the Pittsburgh region.
Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic
I will be hosting my annual Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic on Friday, September 30 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Quinn Hall at the Church of the Resurrection in Brookline. American HealthCare Group will be providing free vaccinations to any senior with the Medicare Part B health insurance card. Make sure to bring your card with you.
I am also pleased that several organizations from around the region will be present to provide seniors with important information on available services and resources. Organizations scheduled to participate thus far include: AARP; Allegheny County Bar Association; Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy; Office of the Consumer Advocate; PA APPRISE; and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office. I will continue to update you with additional information on this year’s Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic throughout this summer.
Faces Never Forgotten
The Pennsylvania Department of Military & Veterans Affairs (DMVA), in partnership with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), is still hoping to locate nearly 400 photos of Pennsylvanians who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War as part of the Wall of Faces program.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund wants to collect photos for each of the 58,307 men and women whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., so that they can keep the legacies of these service members alive for future generations. Since the photo campaign was launched in 2009, the VVMF has located photos for more than 41,000 of the names inscribed on the Memorial. Of the 3,148 service members from Pennsylvania whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial, nearly 400 photos are still needed.
For a complete listing of Pennsylvania service members whose photos are still needed please visit www.dmva.state.pa.us and click on the “Wall of Faces” tab. For information on how to submit a photo please visit http://www.vvmf.org/faces-never-forgotten.
Did You Know…
Did you know the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was established by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc., the nonprofit, charitable organization incorporated on April 27, 1979, by a group of Vietnam veterans led by Jan C. Scruggs, a wounded and decorated infantryman, from Bowie, Maryland?
Rebates for Alternative Fuel Vehicles
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is reminding Pennsylvania car buyers of rebates to assist with the cost of purchasing a new alternative fuel vehicle. Purchase of battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and alternative fuels such as natural gas and fuel cell vehicles are eligible for rebates.
These rebates are funded by the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program, which is supported by a gross receipts tax on utilities. To qualify the vehicle must be registered in Pennsylvania, operated primarily in-state, and be purchased no more than six months before the rebate application is submitted. Rebates are available for new cars only.
Large-battery vehicles are eligible for a rebate of $2,000. DEP is also offering $1,000 rebates for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery-electric vehicles. Rebates of $1,000 are also being offered for natural gas, propane, hydrogen or fuel-cell vehicles. CNG original equipment, manufacturer retrofits, or certified conversions to CNG or propane are also eligible for the $1,000 rebate. A $500 rebate is available for electric motorcycles and scooters.
There are only a limited number of rebates available at $2,000. The rebate program offered will be reassessed upon payment of the first 250 rebates at $2,000 or December 31, 2016, whichever occurs first. For more information on the types of eligible vehicles and to apply for a rebate, please click here or visit www.dep.pa.gov.
Fresh Paint Days in Pennsylvania – Grant Applications
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is accepting applications for their Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania program. The annual program, held in partnership with Behr and The Home Depot, is designed to provide community groups with paint and painting supplies to enable them to renew a community structure in need of some attention.
Applications are available by clicking here or visiting http://illegaldumpfreepa.org/keep-it/ and are due no later than July 31. All applications will be evaluated by a review committee with grants awarded in August. Projects must be completed during Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania, September 1 – 30.
Below are a list of grant criteria and more information about the program.
- Available to any tax-exempt group in Pennsylvania. Private property owners or individual applicants cannot apply.
- Each application is eligible for up to 20 gallons of exterior paint provided by Behr and a $50 Home Depot gift card for painting supplies.
- Only one building per application is allowed. Applicants can submit multiple applications.
- Once receiving award notification, applicants must provide proof of liability insurance and signed permission to paint from the property owner.
- Required to submit two “before” photos of the intended project.
- Applicants must adhere to a 20 gallon limit of exterior paint, chosen from the Behr line.
For more information about the grant program please contact Michelle Dunn at 1-877-772-3673, ext. 113 or email@example.com.
Summer Food Program for Children
Children ages 18 and younger can participate in the Allegheny County Summer Food program. Summer Food will run in over 80 locations in Allegheny County through August. At these locations, children can receive a free breakfast and lunch during the summer recess from school. For more information on the program, including information on locations and times, please call the Allegheny County Department of Human Services at 1-800-851-3838. You may also view a listing of Summer Food program sites by clicking here.
This year, PennDOT has used 24,880 tons of asphalt to fix potholes on state roads across Pennsylvania.
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
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Northside (Mobile Office)
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Lawrenceville (Mobile Office)
279 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Thursdays - 11 am - 4 pm