Senator Pat Stefano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • FINAL CALL: Funding Workshop Scheduled for First Responders
  • Senate Passes New Funding for Hospitals, Health Care Workers
  • Student Loan Relief for Nurses Available through March 1
  • Senate Acts to Improve PA National Guard Health Care
  • Congressional Redistricting Map Approved by General Assembly
  • Apply Today for the Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy
  • Property Tax/Rent Rebate Applications Being Accepted
  • National School Choice Week

FINAL CALL: Funding Workshop Scheduled for First Responders

I will be hosting a First Responders Funding Workshop on February 2 in Fayette County and February 3 in Somerset County. Many grants are extremely competitive, and I want to make sure you have the information needed to maximize your chances of securing funding for critical needs in our local communities.

The workshop will feature tips on how to find government and foundation grants and to submit applications with a greater chance of success. Participants are welcome to ask questions about current or future projects their organization is considering. The workshop will feature experts from PEMA, Office of the State Fire Commissioner, Department of General Services, and the Senate Republican Caucus Services Grant Team.

These contacts, as well as a reference manual that contains a comprehensive listing of grant programs and important contact information, will be a valuable reference for many years to come.

Again, I hope that you or multiple members of your organization can join us.  If you have any questions, please contact Sue Quinn of my staff at 724-626-1611 or squinn@pasen.gov.

As always, thank you for your continued service to your community.

Senate Passes New Funding for Hospitals, Health Care Workers

The Senate this week approved critical funding for hospitals and frontline health care workers who continue to keep Pennsylvanians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was sent to the governor for enactment.

It allocates a total of $225 million to hospitals and their employees. The additional dollars will be allocated as follows:

  • $100 million for acute care general hospitals.
  • $110 million for critical access hospitals, facilities with a high volume of Medicaid patients, and behavioral/psychiatric providers.
  • $15 million for the PA Student Loan Relief for Nurses Program.

The legislation requires the funding to be directed to retention and recruitment programs for staff. Hospital executives and administration, contracted staff and physicians would not be eligible for payments.

Student Loan Relief for Nurses Available through March 1

Applications are being accepted through March 1 for the new Student Loan Relief for Nurses program.

Qualified nurses working through the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to receive student loan relief of up to $2,500 for each year of work (beginning with 2020) for up to three years, with a maximum benefit of $7,500.

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency indicates the high volume of applications has slowed the review process, and online applications are not offered. You can learn more about the program and the application process here.

Senate Acts to Improve PA National Guard Health Care

Legislation to increase the number of health care providers in the Pennsylvania National Guard was approved by the Senate. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The legislation improves the Medical Officer or Health Officer Incentive Program, which was created in 2014 to provide an education stipend to those who qualified through their time in the armed services.

This incentive program began to address the lack of health care providers within the Guard. However, some health professionals, such as dentists and physician assistants, were inadvertently left out of the program.

Senate Bill 927 would establish a broader definition of “health professional” to capture those left out of the original program. It would also create education stipend tiers based on the participant’s education level, so that physicians and physician assistants would get a higher reimbursement to help pay down their higher tuition debt.

Congressional Redistricting Map Approved by General Assembly

Legislation to redraw the boundaries of Pennsylvania congressional districts to reflect changes in population was approved by the Senate and sent to the governor, who vetoed the measure.

The U.S. Constitution requires congressional redistricting following the updated census count every 10 years.

The preliminary congressional map was developed after a series of public hearings held by the state Senate and House of Representatives. 

Apply Today for the Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy

The Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA), located at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, is accepting applications for its first-ever cadet class in July 2022. The Academy is designed to give academically challenged teens a second chance at obtaining their basic education, learn leadership, self-discipline, and responsibility while working towards finishing their education and building a brighter future.

The program is open to 16- to 18-year-old male and female PA residents who are failing to progress in high school or may not be on a clear path to graduating. Applicants must be willing to be drug free, free of felony convictions, and voluntarily commit to the program. The program lasts for 17 months, with the first five months consisting of residential training at FTIG followed by one year of mentorship back in the community.

The KSCA is a joint effort between the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the National Guard Bureau in consultation with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

For detailed eligibility requirements and to begin the application process, visit: https://www.dmva.pa.gov/KeystoneStateChallengeAcademy.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Applications Being Accepted

Older and disabled Pennsylvanians can apply now for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2021.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older, and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.

After checking eligibility requirements, you can file your rebate application online by visiting mypath.pa.gov. Submitting your application online does not require you to sign up for an account. You can check the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program instruction booklet to learn which information you will need to complete the process.

National School Choice Week

Pennsylvania families should have a choice in selecting the best education for their children, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies and homeschooling.

This is National School Choice Week, a time to stand with parents and recommit to giving parents the power to choose what’s best for their children.

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