Senator Pat Browne E-Newsletter

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In This Update:

  • Governor’s Budget Plan Features Massive Spending and Tax Increases
  • Relief Package for Restaurants & Renters Heads to Governor’s Desk
  • Resources Available to Answer Unemployment Claimants’ Year-End Tax Questions
  • New Fraud Attempts Target Social Media Users
  • 2021 Trout Stocking Schedule Available Now

Governor’s Budget Plan Features Massive Spending and Tax Increases

Governor Wolf unveiled on Wednesday his $40.2 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2021-22 that includes more than $3.1 billion in new government spending – which would be the largest spending increase in the state’s history. The governor’s plan also includes an increase in the Personal Income Tax by 46.3 percent.

The governor could not have picked a worse time to propose such an increase in the Personal Income Tax given the struggles Pennsylvanians continue to face during the worst pandemic of our lifetime. This major tax increase and massive spending plan will devastate working families and small business owners, many who already cannot afford their current tax burden, are unemployed or have been forced to close their business.

There is merit to some of the spending priorities that the governor has proposed, including continuing to provide more resources for education at all levels and helping our most vulnerable citizens. Over the years, I am proud to have worked with the governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly to provide more funding to school districts locally and across the Commonwealth. With this in mind, we need to balance these priorities, while not increasing the burden on our working families and small businesses in these difficult times.

I look forward to continuing to work with the governor and my colleagues to develop and advance a responsible budget that meets our state’s challenges and helps keep businesses open and employees working, creates jobs and rebuilds our economy.

You can watch my comments on the Senate Floor about the Governor’s proposal HERE

Relief Package for Restaurants & Renters Heads to Governor’s Desk

Legislation that passed both the Pennsylvania Senate (48-0) and House of Representatives (202-0) unanimously will a massive aid package  aimed at providing relief to those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation (Senate Bill 109) now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

The comprehensive $912 million package, which was developed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which I chair, consists of funds provided by the federal government through the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and state funding.

The state legislature directed:

  • $569.8 million for Rental and Utility Assistance
  • $197 million for Education Relief
  • $145 million for Pennsylvania’s Hospitality and Restaurant Industries

Additionally, the Senate concurred on several House amendments made to the legislation, including exempting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from state income taxes, making it consistent with federal tax laws.

Once the package is approved by the Governor, and guidelines are issued, my office will provide details on how to apply for these programs.

Resources Available to Answer Unemployment Claimants’ Year-End Tax Questions

Unemployment claimants who have year-end tax questions can find answers through a new Frequently Asked Questions page developed by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity’s office. The page includes information on what claimants should do if they have not received their 1099G, how to dispute the amount reported on a 1099G form, and what Pennsylvanians should do if they receive a 1099G because they were a victim of fraud or identity theft, among other topics.

Information is also available on how state residents can report identity theft and fraud related to unemployment benefits, as well as how Treasury can provide evidence that fraud has taken place so victims of these crimes can resolve the issue. The Department of Labor and Industry also has its own FAQ page that covers questions about how to obtain forms, report fraudulent activity and more.

New Fraud Attempts Target Social Media Users

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is urging social media users to be on the lookout for fraud attempts involving fake Facebook pages and profiles. By creating fake pages and social media profiles posing as department employees, criminals can attempt to obtain the personal information of Pennsylvanians.

A few helpful reminders:

  • The department does not communicate directly to claimants through replies to posts or private messages.
  • The department will never ask individuals to call or text a phone number or send an email.
  • The department’s official Facebook account has a blue check next to the name that identifies it as a verified page.
  • Pennsylvanians should never divulge personal information to the department through social media.

If you have a question pertaining to unemployment benefits, the contact information for the Department of Labor and Industry is:

2021 Trout Stocking Schedule Available Now

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently announced its 2021 trout stocking schedule for all Pennsylvania waterways. This year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans to stock approximately 3.2 million trout in 701 streams and 128 lakes open to public angling.

Trout season will officially open on April 3, following a single statewide Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day on March 27.

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