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Senator Judy SchwankHello, my friends!

We, normally, are preparing for vacation and more time in the community, but the state budget impasse is changing many summer plans this year.

This newsletter will be about important state financial happenings because I believe you need to know about what’s going on in the state Capitol and what I am doing to spark comprise and solutions.

But not everything here is about the budget. Community events are happening and I am looking very forward to being at the Antietam Valley Street Fair this Saturday, the Reading Fair Aug. 1, and the Oley Valley Community Fair later this summer.

I hope to see you there or at any of the many places and events I make it a point to visit just about every day.

Thank you for your support and enjoy your summer.

Sen. Judy Schwank

Budget Blues

CapitolThe spirit of compromise needed to bridge the differences between state budget negotiators has not yet arrived in Harrisburg, so Pennsylvania’s 2015-2016 spending plan is now 16 days late.

I am growing increasingly worried about what this could mean for our vital human service organizations that need state subsidies to do what they do so well. No budget will soon mean no money to help them deliver their programs of support. Even worse, some of them are anticipating laying off staff!

While I am a strong believer in the budget wanted by Gov. Tom Wolf and my Senate Democratic caucus, I do think there is a middle ground. Still, we must do more than we have done during the past four years, which is next to nothing, and why I voted against the GOP proposal.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center recently did a nice, easy-to-understand analysis of both budget wish lists.

I also voiced my budget concerns – and articulated a way forward – with an op-ed in the Reading Eagle.

We need everyone at the table – every day, as they promised they would – to get this done sooner rather than later.

Property Taxes & Education


Standing with supporters of SB76

One big problem with the Republican budget the governor vetoed is it failed property taxpayers by delivering absolutely no relief and it flat-funded our state-owned universities, like Kutztown.

The budget issues recently forced the hand of the State System of Higher Education to increase tuition across the board by $240 to $7,060. I am a member of the PASSHE board but I voted against the tuition increase.

I understand the state system’s problem, and the math makes sense. After all, the governing body that operates the 14 state-owned universities is operating with the same level of funding it had 17 years ago.

However, the annual tuition increases are slowly and surely eroding the mission of the state system: to deliver a quality – affordable – higher education.

We need better investments in our universities from Harrisburg, and we need to ensure that our children and adults who want to continue their educations can do so without going into hock.

The same is true for the state when it comes to better funding basic education.

I am glad there is a new proposal to better distribute basic education dollars but the lack of any discussion or any proposal to eliminate property taxes is a deep concern of mine.

Senate Bill 76 was recently re-introduced, and I am a proud co-sponsor, as are many other Republicans and Democrats. Republican leaders, however, uttered not a word on property tax elimination or reform last month, and now they are trying to claim that property taxes are not a budgetary issue.

It’s like being in an echo chamber. Supporters of Senate Bill 76 are hearing nothing but their own voices when they ask if anyone is there. This has to change.

Avian Flu

ChickenAn avian flu epidemic that has slowly spread from west to east in the United States could land in Pennsylvania, but I am happy to report that we are being proactive and leaving nothing to chance.

Communication is one of the big forces in battling the bird pandemic, and that is happening. From my June 26 press release to stories by the Reading Eagle, WGAL, the Allentown Morning Call, people are paying attention.

People who raise chickens in their backyard also need to keep a wary eye on the health of their birds because they are not immune from getting the strains of avian flu.

BECAUSE of the communication and proactive efforts, Gov. Wolf today announced an additional $3.5 million to battle the avian flu’s expected arrival.

Conservation Award

ConservationOne of the wonderful aspects of living in Berks County is that I get to work with people who deeply care about what they do and their quality of life.

So the award I recently received from the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts is really for those I work with on this front.

The Berks County Conservation District has been advocating for the protection of our natural resources since 1946 and it lets me know when action is needed in Harrisburg.

Being co-honored with PACD’s 2015 Legislative Leadership Award is nice, but it’s for every Berks Countian who works to make sure our open spaces, our water and our air stay pure. Thank YOU.

Don't Be Shocked

ElectricityI want to remind you about the need to be alert to the possibility of a utility scam.

Met-Ed said recently that there is an ongoing, nationwide con involving a telephone caller posing as a utility company employee threatening to shut off power unless immediate payment is made.

The power company has told me that if your electricity account is past-due, you will receive a written notice of your status with instructions on how to avoid disconnection of service. While a Met-Ed representative may call a customer to remind them that a payment is due, the representative would explain how a payment can be made using established payment options. They will NOT demand payment over the phone.

If a caller threatens to shut off your power unless immediate payment is received, hang up. To verify your account status or the identity of a Met-Ed employee, call 800-545-7741.

RebateMore Time for Property Tax Rebate

It’s not property tax elimination, but if you need money back for your property taxes or rent, the state has granted a property tax/rent rebate extension.

You now have until the end of 2015 to apply. Please make note of the income guidelines if you are planning to participate.

Being Social

Twitter/Facebook Facebook Twitter It’s a privilege to be your state senator, so it is important to me to be in touch with you.

I really like face-to-face meetings but understand that in this busy world, sometimes that isn’t possible. Feel free to call my office to ask questions or make suggestions. Also, you may connect with me through my pages on Facebook and Twitter. Please follow me for regular updates and comments about what’s happening in the district and in Harrisburg.

Offices to Serve You

  District Office
210 George Street
Suite 201
Reading, PA 19605
Phone: (610) 929-2151
Fax: (610) 929-2576
Harrisburg Office
457 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203011
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3011
Phone: (717) 787-8925
Fax: (717) 772-0578