Healthy Rainy Day Fund Cushions Against Hard Times
Currently, the state’s Rainy Day Fund sits at a record high of $6.1 billion. In large part thanks to careful decisions of the Senate over the last several years. Most recently, we deposited $900 million as part of the current state budget. While many wanted to spend the money, we prioritized smart saving so we would have a cushion in the event of hard times. After going through a pandemic, we should all be aware how emergencies and unexpected events can quickly need resources.
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.
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.
Prioritizing Mental Health
January is Mental Wellness Awareness Month, which is a great reminder of how important it is to focus on our mental health.
Since becoming a Senator, I initiated and created the Senate’s first mental health caucus, charged with in-depth research on the issues and crafting effective suggestions and state policy proposals. Read more about the caucus here. This session, we have been successful in enacting a mental health study into law, directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study on Pennsylvania’s 988 suicide and crisis hotline. Read more here.
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, Senate Republicans dedicated $100 million for school mental health, helping to address a major need as mental health needs for young people continue to rise.
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.
Out and About Listening to You
This week, January 23, was National Pie Day! I celebrated by stopping at the Village Farmer and Bakery in Delaware Water Gap. My family and I loved the fresh chicken pot pies for dinner and a fresh peach pie for dessert. With the prolonged closure of RT611, this is just another reason to support this Del. Water Gap staple. Treat yourself, your friends, or your family to some delicious homemade baked goods. Open 8 AM – 8 PM located on Broad Street in Del. Water Gap.
This week, I visited the Wilderz at Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center (Cherry Drive, Stbg.) to meet with Kathy, Susan, and Janine. From eagles, to foxes, to an owl, a racoon, and more… I was able to meet their newest wildlife residents. We discussed their overall updates and mission, needs, and suggestions to continue their great work to over ten counties in the Pocono region.
As a reminder, they provide humane and loving care for injured, orphaned, or sick wildlife. They work to rehabilitate them and return them to the wild. They play a strong role in public health as diseases identified and controlled within our wildlife and often affect humans. Lastly, they offer education and information to the public about wildlife.
Learn more here.