In this Update:
Senate Hearings on Proposed State Budget Continue
Work on reviewing Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed $45.7 billion state budget continued this week with public hearings held by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The proposed plan was announced last month, and the state constitution requires a budget to be enacted by June 30.
The governor’s plan would increase spending by $4.5 billion. Based on projections, this will create a $1.3 billion deficit in the following fiscal year and produce a $13 billion deficit by 2026-27.
This week’s hearings featured the Departments of Health, State, Education and Human Services.
During this week’s hearing for the state Department of Human Services (DHS), I relayed my concern that all residents have access to health care networks and providers, including community hospitals.
I brought up the issue of vaccination rates during this past week’s hearing for the Department of Health (DOH), questioning how the department calculates the vaccination rate in each county. I also stressed the importance of accuracy in reporting, namely when using base population counts.
In follow-up questioning of DOH Acting Secretary Keara Klinepeter, I asked about her input and knowledge of the DHS ‘HealthChoices’ program.
Election issues were a hot topic during the budget hearing for the Department of State, and I inquired about the shift in deadlines for implementation of new congressional district maps, and asked for clarification on laws governing our electoral process.
And during the Department of Education hearing, I questioned the usefulness of the $40 million Keystone Exams, pointing out that it seems like we spend a lot of money, time and effort for intangible results.
You can find more information on these budget hearings, hearing video, livestreams and more at PASenateGOP.com.
Telephone Town Hall with Sen. Pittman on March 15 at 5 p.m.
New Report on PA COVID-19 Hospitalization and Mortality
From March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, there were 120,329 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Pennsylvania hospitals. Pennsylvania residents were hospitalized at a rate of 91.5 hospitalizations per 10,000 residents. More than half of these admissions occurred from November 2020 through February 2021. There were peaks in admissions in April 2020 (8,391), December 2020 (24,506) and April 2021 (10,641).
While in the hospital, 10.2% of the patients required mechanical ventilation and 12.3% of patients died, while 14.9% were readmitted within 30 days. The average length of stay was 8.1 days. Older residents consistently had higher hospitalization and in-hospital mortality rates. You can read the findings at www.phc4.org.
Honoring the Female Faces of the Front Lines for Women’s History Month: Tell Us Your Story
March is Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is Providing Healing, Promoting Hope, a tribute to the work of caregivers and female front-line workers throughout the pandemic.
In the spirit of this achievement, the Pennsylvania Senate wants to hear the stories of “Female Faces of the Front Lines.” If you are a female medical provider, caregiver, EMS or emergency worker or you know someone who is, we want to hear from you.
Just follow the directions at the link and we’ll share your inspiring story on social media.
Ribbon-cutting Ceremony for New Village Institute Blairsville
I am happy to announce the opening of the New Village Institute (NVI) Blairsville campus for auto and diesel technician training. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new location was held on Saturday, March 5.
NVI Blairsville is the newest and largest U.S. campus for NVI, which in January 2022 launched its innovative, accelerated programs that quickly get technicians on the job.
The speed with which the program can produce new technicians is particularly important right now given our nation’s shortage of critical skilled workers.
The campus is located at 500 Innovation Drive in Blairsville, Indiana County. For more information about NVI Blairsville, see their website.
Resources to Help with Problem Gambling
March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and resources are available to help with a gambling addiction.
The Council operates the Pennsylvania Problem Gambling helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537). More resources, including a 24-hour chat service, are also available at www.pacouncil.com.
Turn Clocks Ahead One Hour This Weekend
Daylight saving time will begin on Sunday, March 13, at 2 a.m., so it’s time again to turn clocks ahead one hour Saturday night.
This is also a good time to check batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, which should also be replaced every 10 years.
Daylight saving time will end on Nov. 6.
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