House Passes Revenue Plan to Help Close Out Budget
In seeking to close out the 2017-18 state budget process, the House this week voted on part of a revenue package to finish funding the 2016-17 fiscal year and maintain operations for the current fiscal year.
House Bill 542 would raise the bulk of revenue needed to close the budget gap by securitizing the Tobacco Settlement Fund, ensuring third-party online sellers remit the sales tax and applying the sales tax to fireworks. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Additional measures still need to be passed on gaming reforms and reinvesting excessive balances from dormant state funds, and the fiscal code bill to finalize the budget package.
House Republicans have been focused on standing up for taxpayers, first by successfully passing a spending plan that spent much less than the governor proposed, and now by approving a revenue plan without any broad-based taxes to further burden individuals, families and employers.
Improving Education at All Levels
As part of the Public School Code portion of the 2017-18 budget package, the House passed several important initiatives designed to enhance curriculum and improve the educational process.
Changes to overall kindergarten through 12th-grade education include delaying the implementation of the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement until the 2019-20 school year; prohibiting “lunch shaming” to ensure all students have access to school lunches; adding opioid abuse and prevention education to drug and alcohol abuse curriculum and enhancing agriculture education offerings; and increasing the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) by $10 million to $135 million.
To help with public school administration, changes are also being sought to require training for new members of a school’s governing body and to allow a school to furlough teachers for economic reasons and basing those decisions on performance, rather than seniority.
The legislation now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.
Got Expired Drugs? Dispose of Them Safely on Oct. 28
To help keep prescription medications out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, the U.S. Department of Justice, working with local law enforcement, will hold a prescription take-back event in our area on Saturday, Oct. 28. This event allows residents to drop off unwanted or expired prescription medications free of charge for safe and convenient disposal.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents can drop their medications off at the Berwick Police Department and the Locust Township Police Department in Catawissa. More sites are being added daily, check here for the latest updates.
Several communities in our area also have permanent collection sites. Click here for those.
Thanks for Attending Our Caregivers Forum
Thank you to those who attended our Senior Caregivers Forum on Oct. 5. Pictured with me are panel members; Lynne Wood, business development representative, Commonwealth Home Health and Hospice of Berwick; Nickolas Lutz, elder law attorney, Law Office of Lutz and Petty; Sandy Darlington, Columbia Montour Aging Office APPRISE; and Lynn Rosbach, casework supervisor from Columbia Montour Aging Office.
Thanks to the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation for hosting us.
• A photography exhibit, featuring the photos of Harry Ackerman, will be on display at the Northern Columbia Community Center through November. A “meet the artist” reception will be held on Sunday, Oct. 22, from 2-4 p.m.
• The Berwick Elks Halloween Parade will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 24, beginning at 6 p.m.
• The Benton Halloween Parade will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 24, beginning at 7 p.m.
• Monthly Radio Address: Thursday, Oct. 26, at 8:30 a.m. on WHLM 94.7 FM.
• The Catawissa Halloween Parade will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
• A craft show will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28, at S.S. Cyril and Methodius Church in Berwick from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• The Bloomsburg Veterans Parade will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4, beginning at 9 a.m.
• Our Fall Art Show is set for Monday, Nov. 6, at our Bloomsburg district office, from 6-8 p.m.
• Offices will be closed on Tuesday, Nov. 7, for Election Day and Friday, Nov. 10, for Veterans Day.
• An event designating Route 93 as Stuart Tank Memorial Highway will be held on Sunday, Nov. 12, at 1901 Orange St., Berwick, at 1 p.m. All are welcome to attend.
• Our Third Annual Veterans Expo will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Central Columbia High School from 9 a.m. to noon.