In this Update:
General Assembly Approves Budget that Holds the Line on Taxes, Boosts Rainy Day Fund, Supports Schools, Roads and Nursing Homes
The Senate approved a $40.8 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 that supports Pennsylvania’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while protecting taxpayers from tax increases. The plan now goes to the governor’s desk for enactment into law.
The fiscally responsible budget does not include any of the tax increases proposed by the governor in February — including a 46% Personal Income Tax hike.
I have consistently advocated for a responsible approach to budgeting, particularly after such a volatile economic year. Spending within our means, saving money so that we are better prepared for future economic downturns and can avoid potential tax increases, exercising fiscal restraint, and being good stewards of Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars will be necessary as the Commonwealth continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. I was pleased to vote for this budget that does just that.
Learn more about the 2021-22 state budget here.
Senate Passes Comprehensive Voter Rights Bill to Transform Election System, Restore Faith
The Senate passed a comprehensive voter rights bill designed to transform our election system and restore public confidence in the outcome of elections.
The Voting Rights Protection Act is a wide-ranging plan that expands access, boosts election security and helps counties administer elections in an accurate and more timely manner. The bill will make it easier for Pennsylvanians to vote, but harder to cheat.
The bill protects voting access by:
The bill expands election security by:
The package contains critical reforms requested by counties to help elections run more smoothly. This includes changing voter registration and mail-in ballot deadlines, as well as giving counties more time before Election Day to count mail-in votes.
The bill also establishes a state Bureau of Election Audits that will be required to conduct ballot comparison audits to compare machine ballots to voter ballots; ballot-polling audits that will select ballots at random for individual review; and performance audits on county and state election systems every five years.
The Voting Rights Protection Act was sent to Gov. Wolf’s desk. He has 10 days from Friday’s passage to sign the bill into law, veto it or allow the bill to become law without his signature.
Aument Joins Northwest Regional Police Department for Educational “Ride-Along”
Earlier this month, I was pleased to join Officer Brad Redinger of the Northwest Regional Police Department, covering Mount Joy and West Donegal Townships, for a ride-along during a portion of his shift.
I have been and continue to be supportive of not only our police officers, but their families as well. I am committed to standing with them as they continue to provide our communities with safe, professional, and effective protection.
In an effort to show my continued support of and gratitude for our law enforcement community, I plan to meet with members of the many police departments all throughout the 36th Senatorial District. Additionally, I look forward to participating in more ride-alongs with officers as I did in 2016-2017 to learn more about the work they do and any suggestions they may have for how I can support them in Harrisburg.
To the entire law enforcement community: God bless you all and thank you for your service.
Aument Proposes Reducing the CNI Tax Rate to Increase PA’s Population
After the preliminary 2020 Census data was released earlier this year, we learned that Pennsylvania’s population growth has been so stagnant that we again lost a seat in Congress. This is the continuation of an unfortunate trend where the Commonwealth has consistently lost at least one Congressional seat in all of the last 10 censuses beginning in 1930.
The state’s inability to retain residents or attract new ones has cost us political influence in Washington.
Beyond our diminishing power in the nation’s capital, many Pennsylvanians have seen this outbound migration in action as they watch the dream of having their children live nearby fade away as economic opportunity pulls our younger generations out of the Commonwealth to jobs in other states where there’s greater promise of upward mobility.
We must counter this population trend, incentivize working professionals and families to move here and stay here, and create economic opportunity for ALL our residents – the first step to achieving those goals is to make the state’s Corporate Net Income (CNI) tax rate competitive with that of neighboring states.
Based on data from the U.S. census, research shows that lower corporate income tax rates are associated with higher rates of population growth.
Additionally, interstate migration trends in 2019 show that many more people move to states with lower CNI rates than move to states with a higher rate, supporting the claim that states with lower CNI rates have more favorable business climates and better job opportunities. Specifically, data modeling projects that lowering the CNI by one point can increase Pennsylvania’s population by an additional 18,000 people in the first year and that population will continue to grow each year thereafter.
Bottom line – reducing our state’s CNI rate would directly address our ongoing issues with outbound migration while at the same time providing real, tangible benefits to those who reside here in the Commonwealth.
Learn more about Senator Aument’s proposal to reduce Pennsylvania’s CNI rate and the research behind it here.
Increased Support for Crime Victims Approved by Senate
The Senate approved legislation to improve communications with crime victims and ensure they receive any compensation they are owed.
The measure broadens the timeframes victims’ compensation may be sought and expands critical access to compensation. It requires the law enforcement officer responding to or investigating an incident to provide basic information about the rights and services available to crime victims.
The effort uses savings generated by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, launched in 2012, to strengthen public safety and reduce prison and probation costs. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Homeless Students and Students in Foster Care Aided by Senate Measure
Students experiencing homelessness or living in foster care face additional graduation challenges because they changed schools before earning full credit or are unable to take a required course at their new school. Their new school also may not honor the credits they earned.
The Senate approved legislation to create a smoother transition to high school graduation for these students by designating a point person to review past transcripts and provide the essential support needed to aid student graduation.
The bill would also provide students with other methods to demonstrate that their coursework has been satisfactorily completed so necessary credit can be awarded. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Advances Bill to Increase Vaccine Transparency
The Senate voted to increase the transparency of Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout by requiring the Department of Health to make public the amount of vaccine doses that have been wasted.
The measure addresses the Department of Health’s unwillingness to release details of their pandemic response using a law from 1955. Media organizations across Pennsylvania have expressed their frustration throughout the pandemic with this refusal to publicize information.
The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
“Fish for Free Day” is July 4
Pennsylvania’s Fish for Free Day is scheduled for July 4 this year. They allow residents and non-residents to fish on PA waterways with no fishing license, trout/salmon permit or Lake Erie permit required. All other fishing regulations still apply.
It’s a great opportunity for families to try their hand at a new outdoor activity. Learn about where to borrow fishing tackle, where the best fishing waters are, and more, here.
Have a Happy Independence Day
The United States of America remains the world’s beacon of liberty, 245 years after the 13 colonies took the brave step of challenging the British Empire for independence.
Open displays of love of country might seem old fashioned to some, but it is found in abundance in the homes and communities of everyday Americans. I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July celebrating our nation’s birthday.