Senator Brown E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • District of Character
  • Senate Reviews Proposed State Budget
  • Check the Status of Your Tax Refund
  • Improving Access to Unemployment Compensation System
  • Share Your Feedback on PennDOT’s Winter Services
  • Veterans: Protect Your Pension
  • Around the 40th District

District of Character

March | Responsibility

re·spon·si·bil·i·ty | Basing decisions on practical wisdom and good sense, being dependable in carrying out commitments and duties, and being accountable for one’s words, behavior, and actions.

CATCH PHRASE: Think before you act; finish what you begin; take responsibility and accountability for yourself.

Senate Reviews Proposed State Budget

This week, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, we held the first of three weeks of public hearings about the proposed 2023-24 state budget.

Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed $45.8 billion budget would increase spending by $1.3 billion. Based on projections, this could deplete the state’s $5 billion Rainy Day Fund in just five years.

State Treasurer Stacy Garrity urged us to make greater investments in Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund and reduce the structural deficit to improve the state’s credit rating. She testified that the commonwealth has a choice: spend modestly now or face a possible fiscal cliff as federal funds dry up and the Rainy Day Fund is depleted.

Independent Fiscal Office Director Matthew Knittel confirmed that Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would mean hundreds of millions of dollars in new energy taxes. Higher electricity costs could be on the horizon if Shapiro advances a carbon tax – and consumers are already stretched too thin.

In addition to hearings with the State Treasurer and the Independent Fiscal Office – hearings also included the Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Dept. of Revenue, and the Attorney General. To view clips from this week’s budget hearings, click here.

Find the hearings schedule, livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at

Check the Status of Your Tax Refund

As families struggle with rising costs and inflation, many are anticipating their tax refund. Anyone who would like to check the status of a Pennsylvania Income Tax refund can do so by calling 1-888-PATAXES or clicking here. There is also an opportunity to verify your tax refund to expedite processing.

Improving Access to Unemployment Compensation System

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry extended indefinitely a program that enhances Pennsylvanians’ access to the Unemployment Compensation (UC) system by offering in-person appointments to claimants.

The program, now called UC Connect, offers in-person services for UC claimants who do not have proper technology, equipment or technical skills; individuals without access to home Internet or broadband; and individuals with limited-English proficiency.

To schedule an appointment, claimants should contact a PA CareerLink® center directly.

Share Your Feedback on PennDOT’s Winter Services

PennDOT is accepting winter services feedback through an online survey. The public can take the survey here through April 6.

The 17-question survey asks how often respondents travel during poor weather, how they rate PennDOT’s winter service and how they rank snow-removal priorities. Respondents are also asked how they receive PennDOT roadway information and whether they use the state’s 511PA traveler information services.

During the winter, offers its standard traffic and incident information while adding PennDOT plow-truck locations, winter roadway conditions and other services.

Veterans: Protect Your Pension

Veterans and their beneficiaries who are potentially eligible for VA pension benefits must beware of pension poaching. While pension poaching can impact any veteran, poachers primarily target older veterans. Pension poaching comes in several forms, from selling financial products of questionable value to charging a fee to restructure assets to make the veteran or beneficiary meet income eligibility criteria. Read about other pension poaching methods here.

Avoid becoming a victim of pension poaching by never paying:

  • For forms or to submit applications.
  • To restructure assets to “qualify.”
  • For the promise of eligibility for a pension.
  • To receive a lump sum payment on a pension.

If you suspect or experience a scam or financial exploitation related to any veteran benefit, including a VA pension, file a report immediately with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Military and Veterans Affairs section by calling 717-783-1944, emailing or filling out this online form.

Around the 40th District

Such a joy last weekend to attend Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company’s annual installation dinner. Special recognition to Linda Pobstosky for 20 years of service, Christopher DiPierro (Chief) and Michael DiPierro (Deputy Chief) for their dedication as well. Remember always – our firefighters are volunteers – whose service to our community is truly invaluable.

Last week, I had the pleasure of recognizing Doris Day on her 100th birthday! Doris raised four children, has ten grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-grandchildren! Doris is an active member of the Central united Methodist Church in Honesdale and attend their services, bible studies, and volunteers at their events. Doris is well known for baking delicious treats – her and her family operated Day’s Bakery on Main Street in Honesdale from 1952 until 2015.

Congratulations to the “PEER” (Pennsylvania Empowermed Expert Residents) graduates from Serenity Care in Peckville! My staffer, Addie, was pleased to attend their graduation and present certificates recognizing their accomplishments. PEER is available to all nursing homes, personal care homes, and assisted living facilities to educate residence on residents rights, and self-advocacy. Congratulations to the graduates!

Last weekend, I attended the 44th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Stroudsburg, organized by the Pocono Irish American Club. This year was one of the largest parades yet – led by this year’s Grand Marshall, WWII veteran, Ed O’Donnell.

Earlier this week, between budget hearings, I had the absolute pleasure of watching East Stroudsburg High School North’s chorale, directed by Keith Labar, perform in the Capitol rotunda. Senator Lisa Baker and I so enjoyed this lovely visit showcasing the students’ talent.

Attention Monroe County municipal leaders! The Monroe County Conservation District will be hosting a Stormwater Facilities Bus Tour, taking four stops at innovative stormwater facilities across the county. Learn about their operations and maintenance. Meet April 14th at 8:30 AM at the Monroe County Conservation District.


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