In this Update:
Expanding the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
In an effort to provide more financial relief for low-income seniors, the Senate recently passed legislation to increase the income eligibility and amount of rebates for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. I’m glad that this bipartisan bill will put money back into the pockets of those who need it most and I was pleased to quickly schedule it for a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, which I chair, unanimously advancing it to the full Senate for a vote.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. House Bill 1100 will expand this program to help homeowners and renters with household income of up to $45,000. Previously, the income limit was $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
In addition, as part of the legislation, the household income limit is required to be adjusted each July equal to a percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with any changes rounded to the nearest $10. If the CPI declines, the income limits will remain unchanged.
Pennsylvania to Receive More Than $1 Billion to Close Digital Divide
Pennsylvania is set to receive $1.16 billion in federal funding to increase access to high-speed internet connectivity for individuals, businesses, schools and hospitals.
Thanks to everyone who submitted information to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s map that indicates areas with and without high-speed internet connectivity, Pennsylvania had the third highest number of successful challenges in the country.
While funding was predicated on the map released by the FCC, residents may still view and challenge the map should the information be incorrect. Residents can view the statewide broadband map and learn more about challenging any location in Pennsylvania here.
Introducing Summer Intern on Senate Floor
I recently took to the Senate floor to introduce our summer intern, Garrett Weber. Garrett is interning in our Capitol office, proudly serving the constituents of the 21st Senatorial District. This fall, Garrett is entering his sophomore year at Penn State University, where he is pursuing a degree in Finance. He is an active and involved student at Penn State where he is a member of the Club Rowing team, a YoungLife Leader, a Statistics Teaching Assistant and more recently joined the Nittany Lion Consulting Group. Outside of his academic studies and extracurricular activities, Garrett enjoys spending time outdoors – hunting, fishing, backpacking and hiking. In my office, Garrett has already proven to be an eager learner and a quick study. He has been joining me at meetings, assisting constituents and getting to know other public officials and staff. Over the summer, Garrett is looking forward to gaining a greater understanding of how our system works and exploring a future career in public service.
We are grateful to have Garrett in our office assisting us this summer!
Beware of Student Loan Scam Robocalls and Robotexts
Following the Supreme Court decision regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s student loan forgiveness program, scammers are likely to attempt to use the program to make their misleading robocalls and robotexts seem more legitimate.
Common scams pretend to be from the “student loan forgiveness center” or from a state “forgiveness center.” Other messages reference a “settlement” with the U.S. Department of Education that entitles the recipient to “fully discharge” their student loan obligations. Incoming communications may also fraudulently reflect seemingly legitimate caller ID information to convince consumers to respond.
Learn more, including how to spot a scam and what to do if you are a target, here.
Purple Star School Program Supports Military-Connected Children
Thanks to legislation sponsored by Senate Republicans, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) launched the Purple Star School Program.
The program encourages schools to support the children of service members on active duty and in the National Guard and Reserves as they transition to a new school due to a parent’s change in duty station. Public and non-public schools can receive the Purple Star Award from PDE if they demonstrate their commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.
Pennsylvania now joins 37 other states that offer this designation. Schools can learn more and apply for the Purple Star School designation here.
For anyone who hasn’t already signed up to receive my e-newsletters, you can get on the mailing list here.