Jan Murphy | Wednesday, October 23, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News
Length of service awards, college loan forgiveness, tuition assistance, and local property tax credits may soon be among the incentives available to individuals who choose to serve as a volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania.
The state House of Representatives passed a package of bills on Wednesday aimed at addressing a growing shortage of volunteer firefighter and EMS personnel that is nearing or at crisis levels in some communities around the state. Those measures, along with ones passed earlier in the week, now will go to the Senate for consideration.
On July 10, 2014, Governor Corbett approved the budget for Pennsylvania’s 2014-2015 fiscal year after announcing that he had decided to line item veto certain funding for the state legislature. The budget provides for $29.1 billion in state spending for this new fiscal year. Budget highlights include:
- No increases in broad-based state taxes (e.g., Personal Income Tax, Sales and Use Tax).
- No severance tax on the extraction and production of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.
- The continuation of economic development tax credits, including the Film Production Tax Credit.
- The continued phase out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.
- $10.5 billion for K-12 education.
- A $20 million increase in special education.
- A $10 million increase for PlanCon, a process whereby a school district seeks reimbursement from state government for a major construction project undertaken by the school district.
- $327.69 million in funding for early childhood education, including a $10 million increase for Pre-K Counts.
- A $3.5 million increase in funding for community colleges.
- $5 million for the newly established Ready-to-Succeed Scholarship, which provides merit-based scholarships to students who demonstrate academic achievement and come from families with household income of less than $110,000.
- $100 million for the newly created Ready-to-Learn Block Grants to support academic achievement with flexible uses that include the following: uses allowable under the Accountability Block Grant; establishing, expanding, and maintaining kindergarten and Pre-K programs; hybrid learning; and curriculum alignment.
- Requirement that the Environmental Quality Board regulations differentiate between conventional oil and gas wells and unconventional gas wells.
- Elimination of the state’s pension reimbursement payments to charter and cyber charter schools.
- No public pension reform. However, pension reform may be taken up by the state legislature in the fall.
- No liquor store privatization or modernization.