In this Update:
Senate Reelects Senator Kim Ward to Serve as President Pro Tempore
This week, the Pennsylvania Senate convened for the first session day of 2024. As stated in the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Senate shall meet at 12 o’clock noon on the first Tuesday of January each year.
Senator Kim Ward was re-elected by our colleagues for the position of Senate President Pro Tempore. I am honored to serve with her, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, and our entire caucus, as we continue our work to accomplish results for the people of Pennsylvania.
Giving Students the Tools to Succeed
The passage of the 2023-24 state budget reflects important Senate Republican priorities, including helping students by dedicating an additional $567 million to Basic Education and an additional $150 million for education tax credits to provide scholarships to students so they can learn in an education environment that best suits their needs.
We also ensured greater collaboration in keeping children safe in the classroom by consolidating school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The commission already manages the highly successful School Safety and Security Grant Program created by the Senate in 2018.
Reducing the Tax Burden
As part of the state budget, Senate Republicans voted to reduce the tax burden. One initiative would address a barrier to employment for working families by giving parents additional support to continue to seek and maintain employment.
The legislation also exempts Dependent Care Assistance and Flexible Savings Accounts, which are used to cover health care expenses, from the state Personal Income Tax. They were already exempt from federal taxes.
Finally, it helps counties and municipalities avoid raising taxes on their residents. It increases the payment made for state-owned property dedicated to outdoor recreation to $2.40 per acre to be paid from the State Gaming Fund. Previously, open spaces for the public’s enjoyment were more of a financial burden because they aren’t owned by businesses or individuals.
Officiating Opportunities Available Throughout PA
If you would like to help your community more this year, there are lots of opportunities to make a huge difference in the lives of student-athletes.
There’s a shortage of referees, umpires and other high school officials in almost every sport. High school officials protect the integrity of the games our kids love to play by demonstrating qualities like honesty, objectivity, consistency and courage.
Hours are flexible, and it’s a great way to stay in good physical condition. Find out how to become an official.
Recognizing Law Enforcement in Our Communities
Tuesday, Jan. 9, is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Protecting our communities is a dangerous and demanding job, but men and women across the state answered the call to public service. They leave their families not knowing if they’ll need to give their lives to keep us safe.
I appreciate their selflessness and commitment to others and was proud to vote for legislation to help them.
Act 60 of 2023 expands the list of law enforcement entities covered under the Heart and Lung Act, which provides for salary and medical expenses to be paid when an officer or firefighter is injured on the job. Other new laws passed by the Senate allow municipal police to conduct fingerprint-based criminal history checks on police applicants and funds an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer.
Saying Goodbye to a Good and Gentle Soul – Pocono Raceway’s Michele Rose Mattioli-Kulick
Gary and I join Michele and her children, Michael and Elizabeth, at Pocono Raceway’s annual dinner celebrating the Bill France Award of Excellence for outstanding contributions to NASCAR – one of many times we spent together over the years.
One of my sincere joys in life has been my friendship with the Mattioli family. It is with great sorrow that my family and I note the passing of Pocono Raceway’s Michele Rose Mattioli-Kulick and take a moment to remember her life. Our condolences to everyone at Pocono Raceway.
Please do not reply to this email. If you would like to contact Senator Baker, submit a web contact form here: https://www.senatorbaker.com/contact-me-2/