State Capitol Roundup
2/7/2014
Governor Proposes Budget to Lawmakers
Before a joint session of the General Assembly this week, Gov. Tom Corbett outlined his budget priorities for the 2014-15 fiscal year. For the fourth year in a row, the proposal includes no new or increased taxes. The governor is proposing a $29.4 billion budget, representing a 3.3 percent increase over last year’s budget. The proposed budget would increase funding for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education by $363 million, making the state’s investment in education the highest it has ever been at $10.3 billion. The proposal also would increase funding to provide home and community-based services for an additional 1,250 individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. In the weeks following the budget address, both the House and Senate Appropriations committees will hold hearings to closely examine the details of the spending plan. House hearings begin the week of Feb. 10, with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and Department of Aging among the first to testify. For detailed information on the state budget, visit www.pabudget.com. For the first time, residents can become directly involved in the budget process by submitting suggestions through the website at www.pabudget.com/participation.aspx on how tax dollars should be spent.

Strengthen Your Financial Defenses in Wake of Recent Security Breaches
Following reported data breaches from several major retailers, consumer protection agencies are urging affected credit card holders to take steps to protect their financial assets. To strengthen financial defenses, do a personal finance safety check. Federal law requires each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. To obtain a free credit report, go online and visit www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action or call 1-877-322-8228. Consumers can request a fraud alert be placed on their credit reports. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued a consumer advisory with tips on what to do when account data has been hacked. The advisory is available at www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/four-steps-you-can-take-if-you-think-your-credit-or-debit-card-data-was-hacked/.

House Scholarship Program Applications Now Available
High school seniors can now apply for a Pennsylvania House of Representatives Scholarship to help cover the costs of higher education. Each year, two students preparing for post-secondary education are awarded four-year scholarships. The program is open to graduating high school seniors who are Pennsylvania residents with plans to attend a Pennsylvania college, university or career school as a full-time student. For more information about eligibility or to apply, interested students should visit Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s (R-Centre/Mifflin) website at www.KerryBenninghoff.com and click on Pennsylvania House of Representatives Scholarship. The application deadline is March 1. The scholarship program is administered through the Foundation for Enhancing Communities and is privately funded by individual and corporate donors. No tax or other public funds are used. Scholarships are awarded through an independent panel of judges chosen by the foundation.
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