In this Update:
Tuition and Loan Assistance for First Responders
Thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency established a Tuition and Loan Assistance Program for active volunteer fire and emergency medical service providers.
After a year of service, volunteers are eligible for up to $1,000 of financial assistance per academic year. Volunteers must commit to five years of service following college graduation.
The legislation is designed to combat Pennsylvania’s crisis in attracting volunteer first responders, which has led to many fire and emergency medical service companies reducing services.
Senate Approves Bill Enabling Better Service in Long-Term Care Facilities
The Senate approved a bill to enhance the availability and quality of service at long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 668 would help address the workforce shortage in nursing homes that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and has grown in recent years as health care professionals left the field due to burnout. It would enable certified nurse aids (CNAs) to train to become certified medication aides (CMAs) and deliver common, minimally invasive prescribed medications to residents of nursing facilities. Currently, only registered nurses and licensed practical nurses can administer medications to nursing home residents.
CNAs would be able to complete a certified medication administration program established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. CNAs who complete the program would be registered as CMAs and would be authorized to administer certain prescribed medications in health care facilities.
Comment Period Open on Plan to Expand PA Internet Access
A strong internet connection powers our economy and supports education, health care and more. Many Pennsylvania communities lack access to high-speed internet.
Development of Pennsylvania’s Digital Equity Plan was funded by federal dollars and aims to make high-speed internet available to more Pennsylvanians. You can review the plan and, until Jan. 8, 2024, take advantage of the public comment period to offer feedback.
The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) offers three ways to comment:
Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday known as the “Festival of Lights,” began yesterday, December 7th and continues through next Friday, December 15th. I wish all those who celebrate, a Happy Hanukkah and time together with family and friends.
Smart Saving Upgrades Pennsylvania’s Financial Standing
Because of sound financial management and strong budgetary reserves, one of the nation’s leading credit rating agencies – Fitch Ratings – upgraded the state’s bond rating from AA- to AA. The state hasn’t held the improved rating since 2014.
The upgrade is expected to lead to lower debt service costs, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. This is one of the reasons Senate Republicans have led the efforts to build the state’s Rainy Day Fund to historic highs and resist new recurring spending the state cannot afford.
Earlier this fall, Moody’s Investor Services and S&P Global Ratings both upgraded Pennsylvania’s long-term financial outlook from “stable” to “positive.”
Deadline for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Dec. 31
The deadline to apply for the state’s 2022 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Dec. 31. Applications and no-cost assistance are available from my district office.
Eligible participants can receive a maximum standard rebate of $650, but supplemental rebates can boost rebates to $975. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities.
Claimants who already applied for their rebates may check the status of claims online or by calling 1-888-222-9190.
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