Residents of the 34th Senatorial District are encouraged to grab their cameras and start clicking as I kick off my inaugural Pennsylvania State
Symbols Online Photo Contest.
The contest is open to all residents of the 34th Senatorial District (Centre, Juniata, Mifflin and parts of Huntingdon Counties). The state’s 12
symbols are connected to history, a native species or products important to Pennsylvania’s economy. The photos must fall into one of 12 categories. The
categories are the state; Animal (Whitetail Deer), Tree (Hemlock), Fish (Brook Trout), Beautification Plant (Penngift Crownvetch), Ship (United States Brig
Niagra), Insect (Firefly), Flower (Mountain Laurel), Bird (Ruffed Grouse), Fossil (Phacops Rana), Dog (Great Dane), Beverage (Milk) and Locomotive
(Pennsylvania Railroad K4S).
Photo submission runs from now until August 31, 2015 at
http://www.senatorcorman.com/photo-contest. Once all the photos have been
submitted, those going to the same website will be able to vote for their favorite photos in each of the categories until September 30, 2015.
The winning photos in each category (one per month), based on public vote, will be featured in the 2016 “Senator Jake Corman’s Pennsylvania State Symbols
Complete details can be found by going to
Budget Debate, Pension Reform Take Center Stage as June 30 Deadline Looms
Creating a responsible state budget will be among the most important responsibilities for lawmakers in the coming weeks.
Two very different visions for Pennsylvania’s future are being presented and debated. Gov. Wolf’s includes tax increases on all income levels in order to
expand state spending. Senate Republicans propose fiscal restraint that continues to move our economy forward.
Although numerous issues must be resolved prior to the June 30 deadline, I remain hopeful that lawmakers can approve a spending plan that sets Pennsylvania
on a path to responsible, sustainable budgets now and in the future.
Governor Wolf is proposing a massive tax-and-spend budget that would increase the personal income tax by 21 percent, the state sales tax by 40 percent and
state spending by 16 percent.
His state budget plan includes tax increases totaling $4.7 billion for the upcoming fiscal year – the largest in state history. His proposal would raise
taxes by $12 billion over the next two fiscal years – about $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Pennsylvania.
And while he promises that revenue generated from his proposed expansion of the sales tax will go to property tax reductions, there are no guarantees that
property taxes won’t go back up.
Budgeting for the future must address skyrocketing pension costs. It’s the most pressing crisis that is draining tax dollars from our schools and
threatening education funding. The Senate recently approved legislation that will restore this balance by restructuring the state’s public employee pension
Senate Bill 1, which I sponsored, would:
Fully protect the benefits earned by retirees and current employees.
Limit short-term and long-term costs to taxpayers.
Ensure new employees have a retirement system that mirrors benefits offered in the private sector.
Senate Bill 1 is projected to produce $18.3 billion in savings over 30 years, according to three independent actuaries. The savings reflect the tangible,
structural improvements to the pension system for current and future employees and will allow us to spend more money on our schools and students.
The pension crisis has created a huge gash in the state budget, and the only
alternative to pension reform is perpetually higher property taxes, higher
state taxes and more borrowing. Unless we address this issue, we will
continue to face higher property taxes and have fewer resources for state
programs, services and to fund our schools.
Senate Moves to Delay Keystone Exams
I heard from many of you on SB 880, a bill that took steps to delay the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement, sponsored by Senator Smucker. Thank you
for reaching out and sharing your views on delaying these exams.
Monday, I joined the Senate in unanimously voting to pass this bill. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for their concurrence. Again, thank
you for taking the time to participate in the legislative process by contacting my office on this bill.
Senate Approves Pet Protection Measures
Pets bring an extraordinary amount of love and companionship to their owners. Although many of us would never dream of mistreating these furry family
members, we hear stories of people neglecting or abusing animals all too frequently. I supported passage of several measures last week to help protect pets
and hold animal abusers accountable for their actions.
The package of pet protection bills included measures to prevent Dog Law violators from operating a kennel under a family member’s name; preclude pets from
being tethered in dangerous weather conditions or without access to food, shelter and water; protect horses against neglect and abuse; and enact stiffer
penalties for the mistreatment of animals in a domestic violence situation.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended to December 31
The deadline to apply for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to December 31, 2015 to allow eligible individuals more time to
take advantage of the program.
The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those with disabilities 18 years or older. The
income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, excluding half of Social Security income. The maximum standard rebate is
$650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.
This is a great program that can help make housing more affordable for those on a limited income. With the cost of housing increasing, it’s important for
those who qualify to submit their applications.
Applicants may obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) and related information online at
www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-222-9190.
Claimants who already applied for Property Tax/Rent Rebates may check the status of claims online at
www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES.
Child Abuse Clearance Fees Waived for Volunteers
The General Assembly has taken a number of steps in recent years to help prevent child abuse and neglect, including passing new laws to require child abuse
clearances and criminal background checks for anyone who is responsible for the welfare of a child. This requirement goes into effect on July 1.
Unfortunately, this requirement created a financial burden on some of the volunteer organizations that provide special services and programs for young
people. The Pennsylvania State Police and the Department of Human Services recently announced that these fees would be waived for volunteers who work with
children. In addition, the fee will be reduced for all other applicants from $10 to $8. The solution mirrors legislation that had already been introduced
in the General Assembly.
Additional information about clearances required under the Child Protective Services Law are available at
Area Travel Alert
Monday, June 22, 2015, through Thursday, July 23, 2015, the Charles Street off ramp on state Route 322 will be closed due to construction work on the
Chestnut Street Bridge. This is a major Lewistown exit off of state Route 322 in Mifflin County so travelers are advised that detours will be in place.
Kids Day With the Spikes
Senator Corman attends Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital Groundbreaking
for Emergency and Imaging Departments Renovations.