Senator Culver E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Monthly Office Hours in Beaver Springs & Herndon
  • 2023 Accomplishments: Public Safety
  • Healthy Rainy Day Fund Cushions Against Hard Times
  • Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Now Serves More People
  • Free FAFSA Workshops Across PA
  • Prioritizing Mental Health at All Ages

Monthly Office Hours in Beaver Springs & Herndon

My staff will be available to help residents with state government-related programs, services and issues on Thursday, Feb. 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Beaver Springs Senior Center, located at 55 Elm St., Beaver Springs, and Tuesday, Feb. 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Herndon Adult Community Center, located at 5089 Route 147, Herndon.

We host regular office hours on the first Thursday of each month in Beaver Springs and the second Tuesday of each month in Herndon.

We provide the same services at each location that are available at our other offices, including assistance with Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program applications, unemployment compensation claims and PennDOT paperwork. Staff also can offer complimentary notary services, provide information about state legislation and make referrals to agencies to resolve state-related matters.

Residents should call the Shamokin Dam District Office at 570-743-1918 to reserve time with staff for either of these outreaches.

2023 Accomplishments: Public Safety

The men and women of law enforcement and emergency response work hard to keep us safe. As their jobs become even more difficult, they need our support.

Last year, we passed legislation to combat different forms of theft. We have new laws that target looting and organized retail theft by increasing penalties and crack down on “porch pirating” by setting penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter.

We also passed measures to prevent the exploitation of older Pennsylvanians and update 911 funding to meet the expanding cost of services so help is available when Pennsylvanians face emergencies. We also provided an additional $20 million for county mental health programs. Ensuring safe communities is among the Senate Republican priorities to protect jobs, empower families and defend freedoms. 

Healthy Rainy Day Fund Cushions Against Hard Times

As of the beginning of January, the state’s Rainy Day Fund sits at a record high of $6.1 billion thanks to prudent decisions the Legislature made in the past three years. Most recently, we deposited $900 million as part of the current state budget. While some wanted to spend the money on all sorts of things, we prioritized smart saving so we would have a cushion in the event of hard times.

To build on the benefits of smart budgeting, Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced a new investment pool specifically for the Rainy Day Fund. It’s designed to earn even better returns while continuing to ensure that money will be available when needed.

A strong Rainy Day Fund offers more than just a financial buffer. Because of the state’s healthy nest egg, Pennsylvania received rating improvements from three rating agencies: Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. The better ratings help Pennsylvania taxpayers by reducing the cost of borrowing for the state.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Now Serves More People

Financial relief is available to more people than ever through the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) Program, which supports homeowners and renters across the commonwealth using gaming and Pennsylvania Lottery proceeds.

New this year, the income cap increased to $45,000 for both homeowners and renters. Only half of an applicant’s Social Security income is included in the calculations for eligibility. Starting this year, income caps are tied to the annual cost-of-living increases. Additionally, the maximum standard rebate on property taxes or rent paid increased to $1,000. The program is open to state residents 65 and older, widows and widowers 50 or older, or anyone age 18 and over who is 100% disabled.

My office can provide free PTRR application assistance to residents. If interested, please call one of my offices to make an appointment and bring all proof of income, your ID and a voided check if you wish to have the rebate direct deposited. In addition, property owners must have paid property taxes stamped or signed by the tax collector. Renters must have a rent certificate filled out and signed by their landlord.

Free FAFSA Workshops Across PA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) underwent changes resulting from the FAFSA Simplification Act, a federal law intended to streamline the financial aid application process.

Filing the FAFSA online is the first step for students and families to determine if they qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, Pennsylvania State Grant, scholarships, institutional awards and federal student loans.

Because of the changes, free FAFSA workshops are being held across the state. Find one near you.

Prioritizing Mental Health at All Ages

January is Mental Wellness Awareness Month, which is a great reminder of how important it is to focus on our mental health, particularly as mental health challenges increased for so many people in the past few years because of the pandemic and the many impacts it had on all of us.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in 20 adults in the United States experience serious mental illness each year. With 50% of all lifetime mental illness beginning by age 14, it’s important to support young people.

As part of this fiscal year’s budget, $100 million was dedicated for school mental health, helping to address a major need as mental health needs for young people continue to rise. 

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