Rep. Mustio: Updates from Harrisburg
Rep. Mark Mustio, whose district includes Sewickley area communities, shares news with his constituents on Patch in this new weekly feature.
State Budget Hearings Under Way
The House Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, began budget hearings with state agencies on Feb. 19 to carefully review the details of the governor’s proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The Department of Revenue and Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) testified the first day. The IFO offered information on revenue collection projections and current tax collection figures. Testifiers indicated that revenues will grow by 1 percent for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
The office also discussed the Commonwealth’s unemployment figures and jobs climate, indicating that Pennsylvania employment is expected to expand by 69,000 jobs this year and 78,000 jobs next year.
The Department of Revenue presented information related to the continued phase-out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, in addition to material related to the department’s planned creation of a new Tax Appeals Board to better serve individuals with a tax discrepancy.
The second and third days of hearings featured testimony from the Department of Environmental Protection, the judiciary, the Pennsylvania State Police, Office of Auditor General, Pennsylvania Treasury and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Budget hearings will continue through the first week of March.
Click here to watch my questions for Matthew Knittel, director, Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office.
House Passes Debt Reform
The House recently passed a measure that I co-sponsored to put new controls in place to curtail levels of public debt for projects funded by the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic and historical improvement projects with a focus on job creation.
Created in 1999 with an initial debt ceiling of $1.2 billion, the RACP debt ceiling has been raised six times since then, pushing it up to $4.05 billion. House Bill 493 decreases the RACP debt ceiling from its current $4.05 billion to $3.45 billion, an immediate reduction of $600 million.
In addition, the bill puts in place important transparency measures. Eligible projects must meet specific criteria, including generating substantial increases in or maintaining current levels of economic activity, having substantial regional economic impacts, including at least 50 percent of non-state funding participation and having a total project cost of at least $1 million.
House Bill 943 now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Congrats Lady Tigers
On Feb. 11, I officially recognized the Moon Area High School girls’ soccer team on the House floor for winning the 2013 PIAA Class AA State Championship. The Lady Tigers finished their season with an overall record of 24 wins and 2 losses, culminating in their 1-0 victory over Archbishop Wood High School in the state championship game. It is always an honor to have the opportunity to recognize student athletes from my legislative district, especially when we share the same alma mater.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
Applications for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program for tax year 2012 are now available through my Moon Township district office and online at www.RepMustio.com.
Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2012. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with permanent disabilities.
Renters may earn up to $15,000 annually and qualify for the program, while homeowners may earn up to $35,000.
Local residents are reminded to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately.
Applications are due by June 30.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is one of many initiatives supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery, which dedicates its proceeds to support programs for older Pennsylvanians. Since the program began in 1971, $4.8 billion has been paid to qualified applicants.