I Stand with Ukraine
I stand with the rest of the Free World in condemning the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine.
I stand with the Pennsylvanians who have family in Ukraine and all of our citizens of Ukrainian ancestry, including those in Cass Township in Schuylkill County which has the highest percentage of people of Ukrainian ancestry in the United States.
Supporting Corrections Officers, Property Tax Elimination, Fighting Unemployment Fraud, and more from Budget Hearings
The Senate Appropriations Committee began the yearly process of reviewing the Governor’s budget proposal this week.
I asked Acting Secretary George Little of the Department of Corrections about many of the staffing issues affecting our corrections officers. We discussed ways to improve the pay scale, decrease mandatory overtime, the governor’s release of 1800 inmates during the pandemic, and the fact that the acting Secretary claims there are no current plans to close prisons in Pennsylvania. I sponsored a 2018 law to require public notice and months of careful evaluation before a facility can be closed.
I asked Treasurer Stacy Garrity about what the Senate and House can do to expose and eliminate unemployment fraud, as well as whether tax hikes would be needed to cover the deficits of the proposed budget.
I asked the Director Matthew Knittel of the Independent Fiscal Office about the cost of eliminating school property taxes and the impact of the governor’s economic shutdown on our labor force.
I asked Auditor General Timothy DeFoor about strategies to avoid welfare fraud and election integrity.
Lame Duck Governor Wolf’s Budget Hides Future Tax Hikes
Quack. Quack. Quack.
Our “lame duck” Governor (meaning his term expires in less than 11 months and he cannot serve another term) has proposed a budget that would increase spending by $4.5 Billion and would leave us with a deficit of $1.3 Billion next year and a deficit of $13 Billion by 2026.
During this week’s budget hearings, I asked the Secretary of Revenue to guarantee Pennsylvanians that there wouldn’t be a large tax increase if we agreed with Governor Wolf’s new spending plan.
His Answer: “There are no guarantees…”
I asked the Secretary how much the sales tax and the personal income tax would need to be raised to cover a $13 Billion gap.
His Answer: “I don’t know.” Keep in mind, Secretary Hassell spent thirty years as a tax analyst for the Department of Revenue and the Senate.
I asked the Secretary if Pennsylvanians could afford a major increase in sales and income taxes to cover this huge deficit.
He “ducked” that answer, as well.
I’ll answer the Secretary’s question for him. To cover a $13 Billion hole in one year, it would almost double your income or sales taxes. That’s a 100% increase and no, you can’t afford to pay that, especially as our country continues to grapple with the highest level of inflation since 1982.
NO WONDER THEY DON’T WANT TO TELL YOU THAT!
Governor Wolf Forces Courts to Select New Congressional Districts
For the second time in four years, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has approved a new district map for Pennsylvania’s members of Congress. The blame for this circumstance ultimately falls on Governor Wolf, who refused to work with anyone to approve a map.
Since this process began, Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) and I were dedicated to working out a bipartisan compromise that could receive a majority vote in the Senate and the House and be approved by the governor. Despite our best efforts, and the most transparent redistricting process in Pennsylvania history, Governor Wolf once again ignored the legislative process.
Read more about this news here.
Assistance with Unemployment Claim Issues
Since the beginning of 2020, I’ve heard from hundreds of you about your difficulties with the current unemployment compensation system. It’s troubling that this system was not built to handle a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and that many of the outstanding issues have not been addressed after almost 2 full years.
Fortunately, my office has been able to help. My staff has had success cutting through the red tape of the Department of Labor and Industry’s bureaucracy to assist people with their claims. If you or anyone you know has difficulty navigating the system, please don’t hesitate to contact my district offices in Pottsville (570-621-3400), Mahanoy City (570-773-0891), or Hamburg (610-562-3411). You can also send your requests via email to email@example.com.
February Report: Encouraging Economic Development
The February edition of my local TV program focuses on the ongoing work that is being done to bring economic development and opportunities to this region.
This edition features a recent tour of the Highridge Logistics Center in Butler Township, the Mountain Valley Logistics Center now under construction in Mahanoy and Ryan Townships, and the new Bed, Bath, and Beyond facility in Frackville. I was joined by Frank Zukas, President of the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) and Brian Stahl, Vice President of Development for NorthPoint Development.
This edition of the Argall Report will air on:
You can also watch this edition and all previous editions here.