|Improving Government Efficiency, Transparency and Fiscal Responsibility
The state House this week passed bills to increase transparency, save taxpayers money and improve the efficiency of government.
House Bill 880 would extend and accelerate the reduction of the debt ceiling for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program by $500 million over five years. Lowering our debt reduces the financial burden of current and future taxpayers.
To ensure businesses get effective and efficient treatment when navigating the Commonwealth’s legal system, the House voted to create Commerce Courts. Under House Bill 332, these courts would have judges dedicated to hearing and deciding complex business-related cases, including acquisitions, mergers, dissolutions and liquidations, among other items.
The bills now go to the Senate for its consideration.
Expanding Education Opportunities
More students and their families would have access to additional educational options under legislation approved by the House this week to expand the successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.
House Bill 800 would increase funding for the program by $100 million to $210 million, providing tens of thousands of additional Pennsylvania families the ability to choose a school that best fits their students’ needs.
In order to ensure that the scholarship program can continue to grow to meet demand, the legislation would also establish an automatic escalator, increasing the EITC scholarship cap by 10% whenever 90% of the tax credits are claimed in the prior year.
To allow more middle-class families access to this program, the bill would increase the maximum annual household income by $10,000 (to $95,000, before add-ons per child), while guaranteeing that once a student has received a scholarship, he or she will remain eligible through high school graduation regardless of changes to family income.
The EITC program provides tax credits to businesses that make contributions to approved scholarship organizations offering scholarships to children in kindergarten through grade 12, educational improvement organizations providing funding for innovative educational programs in public schools, and pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations offering scholarships to children enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs.
The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.
Improving CPR Education to Save Lives
This week the House passed Senate Bill 115 aimed at teaching students cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to help them save lives.
The bill would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to work with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to develop curriculum that could be used by schools across the state. The aim is to help reduce the more than 350,000 cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital each year by preparing students to save lives through CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
The bill now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.
Celebrating Our Small Businesses
This week marks Small Business Week in Pennsylvania.
Small businesses are the backbone of the Commonwealth’s economy, employing over 2.5 million people. In fact, 99.6% of employers in the state are small businesses.
My colleagues and I in the state House have been working hard to help Pennsylvania’s small businesses thrive and grow by cutting the red tape that creates barriers to growth and cleaning up our outdated laws.