|House Passes Historic Pension Reform
In a major step forward in the effort to reform the state’s public pension systems, the House this week passed legislation that aims to slow the growth of pension liabilities, shift risk away from taxpayers and ensure the Commonwealth can meet its future pension obligations.
Senate Bill 1, which received bipartisan support, would establish three new public pension plans from which state employees and teachers hired in 2019 or later can choose. Each offers a defined contribution component, similar to a 401(k) commonly offered to workers in the private sector. The plans provide future employees with retirement security and portability while also protecting taxpayers.
Current employees will have the opportunity to opt in to a new plan or continue in their current plan, and retirees would not see any changes to their plans.
The governor is expected to sign the measure.
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Bill to Base Budget Decisions on Performance Passes House
To help ensure tax dollars are used to their maximum benefit, the House passed legislation, which would require performance-based budgeting.
This type of budgeting uses performance matrices to determine whether each state department has met its goals and objectives, and bases future budget allocations on what was accomplished with the dollars given. Budget requests would include itemized expenditures for all activities required by state and federal statutes at minimum and current levels.
This is another effort by the House to stand up for taxpayers and reinvent the way state government operates.
House Bill 410 now goes to the Senate for review.
Tourism Committee Passes Bill Expanding Recreational Land Use
This week, a bill introduced by Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams) that would expand recreational land use in Pennsylvania passed the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee.
The bill, which passed the House overwhelmingly last session, amends the state’s recreational use of land liability law, expands its protections for landowners and awards legal fees to property owners found not liable for injuries to recreational users.
This is the first bill to pass out of our committee this session and I believe it represents a great effort by the sponsor of the bill to increase recreational land use opportunities in our Commonwealth. Outdoor recreational tourism generates millions for the Commonwealth each year and we should do all we can to encourage growth in this area.
Improving a Health, Human Service Helpline
To help residents better access both private and public human services, House Bill 211 passed the House this week to improve Pennsylvania’s 2-1-1 system.
The 2-1-1 system is a free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service provided by the United Way that connects Pennsylvanians in need with health and human service assistance available through government programs, along with private and nonprofit organizations in their communities.
The new public-private grant program established under House Bill 211 would help expand the service, develop mobile applications and ensure efficiency and quality standards across the state, all while reducing the taxpayer costs needed ensure its success.
House Bill 211 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Tax Amnesty Ends June 19
Taxpayers who owe state taxes only have a few more days to take advantage of the latest tax amnesty period. The program, which offers incentives to Pennsylvanians to settle their delinquent tax accounts, is expected to generate as much as $150 million in revenue for the Commonwealth. The program does not “forgive” taxes owed but instead waives penalties, collection and lien fees, and half of the interest owed.
All taxes owed to the Commonwealth administered by the Department of Revenue are eligible for the program. The delinquent taxes must have been owed as of Dec. 31, 2015. Any unpaid taxes, penalties and interest resulting from periods after Dec. 31, 2015, are not eligible for the program.
The amnesty period runs until June 19, 2017. More information is available at www.revenue.pa.gov. For a video explaining the program, click here.
• The Park Place Village-Berwick Community Yard Sales will be held on Saturday, June 10.
• The Sherwood Village-Bloomsburg Community Yard Sales will be held on Saturday, June 10.
• Mifflinville Community Yard Sales will be held on Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17.
• The Benton Fire Department Carnival will be held from Wednesday, June 21, through Saturday, June 24.
• The ALS George Curry Memorial Walk will be held on Crispin Field beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 24.
• The 114th Six County Fireman’s Convention and Parade will be held on Saturday, June 24, in Jermyn.
• Monthly Radio Address: Thursday, June 29, at 8:30 a.m. on WHLM 94.7 FM.
• The Millville Fire Department Carnival will be held from Friday, June 30, through Saturday, July 8.