In this Update:
Budget Hearing for the Department of Corrections/Probation and Parole
On February 8, Governor Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2022-2023 that would increase spending by $4.5 billion over the current year’s budget. Based on projections, this will create a $1.3 billion deficit in FY 2023-2024 and produce a $13 billion deficit by FY 2026-27. As part of the process to enact a more responsible state budget, I participated in a Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing with the Department of Corrections (DOC)/Board of Probation and Parole, to examine these budget requests.
As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, during the hearing I questioned Acting Secretary of Corrections George Little and Board Chairman Ted Johnson regarding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, staffing shortages, community safety, a medical parole pilot program, and cost savings as a result of steps previously undertaken. This closer look at the departments’ budgets for the coming year required a look back at some of the most recent cost drivers, including grappling with the effects of COVID-19, and moving forward to a new state of normal.
Additional 100,000 Older Adults Eligible for Prescription Assistance
Legislation approved by the General Assembly in December expanding income eligibility limits for the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET) program is now in effect.
The new law allows an additional 100,000 older adults to now become eligible to sign up for the program with enrollment beginning this month. The law expands the PACENET income limits by $6,000:
The PACENET and PACE programs are funded with revenue from the Pennsylvania Lottery and provide comprehensive reimbursement coverage for prescription medications to qualified older Pennsylvanians. The program serves older Pennsylvanians 65 years of age and older, many of whom require multiple medications for several chronic conditions.
You can read more about PACE/PACENET, the latest expansion and the application process here.
Applications Being Accepted for Schools-to-Work Grants
State grants are available to foster partnerships between schools, employers, organizations and associations that lead to career pathways for students. The application deadline is March 15.
Eligible applicants for the Schools-to-Work Program must be registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry as a pre-apprenticeship program or connected with a registered apprenticeship program. Other eligible applicants include an entity that has an established connection with a registered apprenticeship program.
Project proposals must create learning opportunities for participating students and should focus on the coordination of people and resources to help individuals on a continuous path to family-sustaining employment and career growth. The proposal must also focus on building pre-apprenticeship programs to fill current and anticipated labor market needs in the given geographical area.
Virtual Veteran Town Hall Series Set for 2022
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has announced five Virtual Veteran Town Halls to provide veterans with a convenient platform to learn and ask questions about programs and benefits earned through their military service.
Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters live during a chat feature. Visit DMVA’s website two weeks prior to each town hall for the link to participate.
Student Art Competition Raises Awareness About Ticks and Lyme Disease
As the number of Lyme disease cases in the state and across the nation continues to rise, students can use their artistic talents to raise awareness of the prevalence of ticks and the types of diseases they carry.
The Lyme Disease Art Contest is open to children in first through sixth grade. Entries must be received by March 11. Contest materials can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website. Finalists will be notified by mail and will be invited to an award ceremony in May.
There are reports of up to 10,000 Lyme disease cases per year in Pennsylvania and more are likely unreported. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a short course of antibiotics. However, if the infection is left untreated, it can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Ticks that cause Lyme disease are found in every county and every green space, even in cities.
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/
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.