In this Update:
Remembering Sgt. Earl Barkley
Last week, Saltlick Township held a dedication ceremony for Sgt. Earl D. Barkley, renaming the Indian Head Bridge in his honor. At the age of 21, Sgt. Barkley was killed during the Vietnam War and posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.
I hope that this bridge will stand as a lasting tribute to Sgt. Barkley’s bravery, sacrifice, and commitment to preserving the freedoms we are all fortunate enough to enjoy today.
Rockwood Student Receives Gold Award
Congratulations to Bena Croushore for receiving the Girl Scout Gold Award. For her project, Bena presented information on the importance of hosting international exchange students. Great work Bena!
Local Schools Paint the Plow
Four Fayette County schools participated in PennDOT’s “Paint the Plow” high school art and safety contest: Albert Gallatin Area School District, Fayette County CTI, Frazier School District, and Laurel Highlands School District
Awesome job to the talented students who created these pieces as a reminder to buckle up!
Rebate Application Period Open Now
The application period for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is now open. The program has been expanded for the first time since 2006 & now, more Pennsylvanians are eligible.
My office is happy to assist anyone with questions about the program and those looking to apply. Please call any of my district offices to make an appointment.
2023 Accomplishments: Public Safety
The men and women of law enforcement and emergency response work hard to keep us safe. As their jobs become even more difficult, they need our support.
Last year, we passed legislation to combat different forms of theft. We have new laws that target looting and organized retail theft by increasing penalties and crack down on “porch pirating” by setting penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter.
We also passed measures to prevent the exploitation of older Pennsylvanians and update 911 funding to meet the expanding cost of services so help is available when Pennsylvanians face emergencies. We also provided an additional $20 million for county mental health programs. Ensuring safe communities is among the Senate Republican priorities to protect jobs, empower families and defend freedoms.
Healthy Rainy Day Fund Cushions Against Hard Times
As of the beginning of January, the state’s Rainy Day Fund sits at a record high of $6.1 billion thanks to prudent decisions the Senate made in the past three years. Most recently, we deposited $900 million as part of the current state budget. While others wanted to spend the money on all sorts of things, we prioritized smart saving so we would have a cushion in the event of hard times.
To build on the benefits of smart budgeting, Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced a new investment pool specifically for the Rainy Day Fund. It’s designed to earn even better returns while continuing to ensure that money will be available when needed.
A strong Rainy Day Fund offers more than just a financial buffer. Because of the state’s healthy nest egg, Pennsylvania received rating improvements from three rating agencies: Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. The better ratings help Pennsylvania taxpayers by reducing the cost of borrowing for the state.
Free FAFSA Workshops Across PA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) underwent changes resulting from the FAFSA Simplification Act, a federal law intended to streamline the financial aid application process.
Filing the FAFSA online is the first step for students and families to determine if they qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, Pennsylvania State Grant, scholarships, institutional awards and federal student loans.
Because of the changes, free FAFSA workshops are being held across the state. Find one near you.
Prioritizing Mental Health at All Ages
January is Mental Wellness Awareness Month, which is a great reminder of how important it is to focus on our mental health, particularly as mental health challenges increased for so many people in the past few years because of the pandemic and the many impacts it had on all of us.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in 20 adults in the United States experience serious mental illness each year. With 50% of all lifetime mental illness beginning by age 14, it’s important to support young people.
As part of this fiscal year’s budget, Senate Republicans dedicated $100 million for school mental health, helping to address a major need as mental health needs for young people continue to rise.