In this Update:
The New State Budget: Clearing Hurdles to Jobs and Opportunity
The new 2022-23 state budget does not include any broad-based tax increases and is structured in a way to minimize the risk of tax increases in the years ahead.
In fact, the budget actually cuts the Corporate Net Income (CNI) tax rate, which is now the highest in the nation. The new budget cuts the rate from 9.99% to 8.99% and creates a phased reduction to 4.99%, or sixth lowest, by 2031.
Not only will a lower rate attract new business, it also makes the state more attractive for businesses that already operate here and need to expand.
The budget also eliminates a disadvantage faced by Pennsylvania small businesses when competing with those in other states. Under federal tax law, a “like-kind” exchange under the Internal Revenue Code allows for tax deferral when property is exchanged for similar property. This long-standing federal provision allows employers to invest in the job-creating assets businesses need to remain competitive. Every state but Pennsylvania provides for a similar deferral on the state level.
The new spending plan also brings state tax law governing expense deductions in line with federal law, eliminating the unequal treatment of small businesses in Pennsylvania. The increase in limits makes it easier for employers to buy equipment and to invest, which promotes job growth.
Additional funding is also included for several tax credit programs that foster economic development in Pennsylvania communities, including Research and Development ($5 million increase), Film Tax Production ($30 million increase), Entertainment Economic Enhancement ($16 million increase) and Waterfront Development ($3.5 million increase).
These changes will make Pennsylvania more competitive with surrounding states and send a strong message to employers that our Commonwealth is open for business.
Deana’s Law Increases Penalties for Repeat DUIs
The Senate recently passed legislation that is now law to increase penalties for multiple DUI offenders.
Act 59 of 2022, Deana’s Law, would require consecutive sentencing, instead of concurrent, for fourth DUIs and above. It would also increase penalties for drivers with multiple DUI convictions involving high blood alcohol content levels.
The law is named after Deana Eckman, 45, who was killed in a 2019 crash involving a six-time DUI offender.
Funding Available for Projects that Promote PA Farm Products
Nonprofits can apply now for grants for projects that promote Pennsylvania farm products and grow export markets.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will award up to $303,000 in matching funds to nonprofits to reimburse up to 50% of costs for promotional and educational projects intended to increase consumer awareness and sales.
Eligible projects in 2022 can promote anything from wine to wool, hardwoods to honey, fruit, vegetables, herbs, meat, poultry or dairy — any agricultural product produced in PA.
Complete guidelines for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Product Promotion, Education and Export Promotion Matching Grant Program are in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Grant applications must be submitted online through the Department of Community and Economic Development Electronic Single Application. Applications are due by Aug. 5.
Public Hearing About Lake Erie
The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee will be holding a public hearing on July 19 at 2 p.m. to discuss the environmental improvements of Lake Erie as well as the economic impact that fishing has on the region.
As Committee Chair, I recognize the importance of continuing these improvements to the lake and the fishery.
The hearing is open to the public, and I invite anyone who wishes to learn more about these topics to join us at the HIRT Auditorium of the Blasco Memorial Library in Erie.
This week I had a virtual meeting with Vote Solar to discuss their desire for more solar power in Pennsylvania.
I, along with Sen. Jay Costa, introduced legislation that expands access to solar power while ensuring ratepayer protection. This bill expands renewable energy’s reach into communities while simultaneously creating jobs in Pennsylvania.
Economic Revitalization of EMI Complex
This week I joined Acting Community and Economic Development Secretary Neil R. Weaver at the former Erie Malleable Iron (EMI) complex to discuss our region’s efforts for economic revitalization.
Investments like this take a lot of effort on the local, state and federal levels, and working cohesively for the same goal is how things get done.
I am happy to support this work and look forward to seeing the transformation take place.
Discussing Long-Term Care in PA with LeadingAge PA
Earlier this week, I met with LeadingAge PA and some of our local senior care facilities to discuss the state of long-term care in Pennsylvania.
There are some crucial components in this industry that need attention to be able to provide healthy, affordable, ethical aging services in Pennsylvania. I will continue to work with the group to ensure our most vulnerable community members have respectable accessible care.
Accessing Local and County Crime and Crash Data
When crimes and crashes are investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police, the statistical data is available online through the Community Access to Information Dashboard (CAID).
CAID allows the public and the media to access and search data collected from traffic enforcement and crashes for both commercial and noncommercial vehicles, including Incident maps. There’s also data concerning various crimes, with mapping for counties and municipalities.
The dashboard allows the user to choose what data is displayed. Searches can be refined with custom date ranges, locations and categories. Queries can be made in the dashboard with statistical information from as far back as 2019. The dashboard contains no information that could be used to identify the individuals involved.
How to Conserve Energy and Manage Summer Power Bills
As hot weather settles in, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) offers tips on conserving energy and keeping summer power bills manageable.
You can find more tips here. For consumers struggling with paying utility bills, the PUC continues to encourage them to call their utilities to discuss the many different affordability options available.
Celebrating Parks and Recreational Opportunities
Parks and recreational opportunities are key components of healthy communities. I hope you get to enjoy the great outdoors this summer.
The new state budget includes $56 million in state funds to create a new State Parks and Forests Infrastructure Program and $100 million in federal funding for state parks and outdoor recreation.
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