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Senator Pat Browne
Appropriations Committee Chairman
16th Senatorial District
In this Edition of the E-News:
- Effort to Override Governor’s Veto Falls Short
- PA Heating Assistance Program is Open
- Property Tax & Rent Rebate Applications Available
- PennDOT’s 511 Information Website
Senate Republicans Push Budget Override Effort
Click to watch my response
Responding to growing pleas from schools and community groups to release
overdue state funding, Senate Republicans on October 28th led an effort to
override Governor Wolf’s veto of an emergency budget passed last month by the
Senate leaders emphasized that the override would have provided badly
needed funding while negotiations continue on a final budget agreement. The
override required a two-thirds majority, or 33 votes. While all 30 Republican
Senators voted for the measure, the emergency funding veto override vote
received no Democrat support.
Hours before the vote, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told members of
the Senate Democrat Policy Committee that the lack of state funding is having a
devastating financial impact on schools throughout Pennsylvania. School
districts have already borrowed nearly a half-billion dollars – plus interest
payments of $15 million – because of the budget impasse, and that number may
double by Thanksgiving.
Today’s vote marks the fifth time since June 30th that the legislature has
attempted to have a fiscally responsible budget enacted and keep money flowing
to schools and organizations.
Click Here to read more on the effort to override the veto.
It was my pleasure to welcome Pastor Bob
Stevens (center) as my guest on and to serve as Guest Chaplain of the Senate on
October 26th. Pastor Stevens is from Zion’s “Liberty Bell” Church in downtown
Zion’s is known as the Liberty Bell Church
because in 1777, eleven bells were brought there from Philadelphia and hidden
under the floor boards of the church for safe keeping during the Revolutionary
War. One of those bells is now better known as the Liberty Bell.
Pennsylvania’s Heating Assistance Program is Now Open
Pennsylvania’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) grant program is
now accepting applications. LIHEAP, which opened on November 2, 2015 and runs
until April 1, 2016, provides grants of up to $1,000 to help low-income families
pay heating bills during the winter months. LIHEAP also offers crisis grants of
up to $500 for families who experience heating emergencies, such as a broken
furnace, fuel shortage or utility termination.
As we head into the colder months of the year, it is vitally important
that our residents who do not have the resources to pay for heat can get access
to it. The LIHEAP program helps those low-income families receive that necessary
heat and I urge everyone who qualifies for the program to apply.
The program is available to individuals and families earning less than 150
percent of the federal poverty level, or about $17,655 for a single individual
or $36,375 for a family of four. Grant amounts are based on income, family size,
type of heating fuel and the region where the person or family lives.
To apply for the program, a people will need the names, dates of birth,
Social Security numbers and proof of income for all members of the household
seeking assistance, along with a recent heating bill.
Applications for LIHEAP grants are available online at the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania Access to Social Services (COMPASS) website,
www.compass.state.pa.us. More information on the program is also available
by calling the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095 or by visiting their local
county assistance office. Lehigh County’s Assistance Office is located at 101
South 7th Street in Allentown and the phone number is 610-821-6509.
Individuals may also pick up an application – in English or Spanish – or
get more information at my Main District Office at 702 Hamilton Street in
Allentown or by calling any of my offices: Allentown Office (610-821-8468);
Western Lehigh County Office (610-366-2327); or, North Whitehall Township Office
Property Tax and Rent Rebate Applications Still Available
The Property Tax and Rent Rebate program deadline has been extended to
December 31, 2015 for homeowners and renters to file applications for property
taxes and rent paid in 2014. The rebate program benefits 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 with only half of Social Security income counting towards
income eligibility for the program.
Residents, who meet the program’s guidelines and who have not already
filed a 2014 Property Tax and Rent Rebate Application, may qualify for a rebate
of up to $650. Claimants are reminded to provide all the necessary income,
property tax or rental information for their claims to be processed accurately
Applications are available at any of my offices and also by visiting the
Property Tax and Rent Rebate section of state Department of Revenue’s website at
www.revenue.state.pa.us or by calling toll-free (888) 222-9190.
PA Travel Info to Go
Before you head out on the road, a minute reviewing the
live traffic images, construction locations, current speed data and the
maps on the 511 PA Travel Info to Go site may save you time and frustration.
Pennsylvania’s 511PA traveler information system provides motorists with better
access to traffic information through its website,
www.511PA.com, as well as through phone and personal-alert systems. The
website, which works on both computers and mobile devices, provides free,
24-hour travel information for thousands of miles of state roads including the
Incident and construction information is available for 40,000 miles of
state roads, essentially the entire PENNDOT-maintained system, plus the
Pennsylvania Turnpike. Information on current traffic conditions is available
for 15,000 roadway miles. The site also offers access to 30 additional traffic
cameras from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, in addition to the 650
already available across the state. Information is available statewide and, for
your convenience, broken into
Download the app for iPhone or Android to begin your hands-free travel
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