Week Ending Feb. 12, 2021

Feb 12, 2021

Connect with Lawmakers at PICPA Virtual Advocacy Updates

Last summer the PICPA government relations and chapter relations teams introduced a series of virtual town hall meetings with government representatives. The Legislator Town Hall series gave members an opportunity to hear from elected officials in an informal setting, connect with leaders at the federal and state levels, and ask them questions. Due to the success of our first series, we are convening a second round of town hall programs, the first of which is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Don’t miss this opportunity to speak directly to state senators and representatives in your area about the 2021-2022 Pennsylvania budget.

Our six PICPA members-only webinars will shine a light on our state's economic recovery and the agenda for the upcoming legislative session. You will also have an opportunity to have your questions addressed. Sign up today (see sessions below). Members may attend any session of interest, and remember to submit your questions in advance.

  • South Central & Central | Feb. 17
    Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre), Senate President Pro Tempore
    Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), House State Government Committee Chair
  • Pittsburgh & Southwestern | Feb. 18
    Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Senate Minority Leader
    Rep. Nick Pisciottano (D-Allegheny), CPA Legislator
  • Greater Philadelphia | Feb. 19
    Sen. Art Haywood (D-Montgomery, Philadelphia), Senate Finance Committee Member, Health & Human Services Minority Chair
    Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia), House Minority Whip
  • North Central & Northeastern | Feb. 24
    Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe), Senate Finance Minority Chair
    Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne), House Finance, Subcommittee on Tax Modernization and Reform Committee Chair
  • Erie & Northwestern | Feb. 25
    Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion, Armstrong, Forest), House Majority Whip
    Sen. Joe Pittman (R-Armstrong, Butler, Indiana, and Westmoreland), Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee Chair, and Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Member
  • Lehigh Valley & Reading | Feb. 26
    Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), Minority House Appropriations Committee Chair
    Sen. Judith Schwank (D-Berks), Minority Caucus Administrator and Senate Appropriations Committee Member


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State Budget Hearings Set to Get Underway

State budget hearings are set to begin the week of Feb. 15 on Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, 2021. The governor proposed a $36.1 billion General Fund budget that calls for an increase in spending of $1.46 billion, or 4.22% over the prior year.

The House Appropriations Committee will kick off the hearing schedule on Feb. 16 with the Department of Revenue followed by the Independent Fiscal Office and the Department of Aging. Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York) says that hearings will take place on the House floor to allow for social distancing. Masks will be required for all members, staff, and testifiers.

Senate Appropriations Committee hearings begin March 8.


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DOR Releases Education Tax Credit Guidance

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue released guidance on educational tax credits. Restricted Tax Credit Bulletin 2021-01 includes a discussion on both the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC).

The bulletin explains the limited carry forward of credits permitted under Act 136 of 2020 and provides examples of the carry forward. For EITC and OSTC credits awarded during fiscal years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, a business entity may carry forward unused credits or credits not passed through to the entity’s owners for two years. A business entity may include a C corporation or a pass-through entity, such as an S corporation, partnership, limited liability company, or special purpose entity.

Only the business entity awarded the credits may carry the credits forward. The owners of a business entity that has been awarded credits may not carry forward any credits passed through to them. This includes special purpose entities’ owner/members.


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Hospitality Relief Funding Ready for Distribution

The Wolf administration announced this week that $145 million in funding will be distributed to all 67 Pennsylvania counties through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program to help support the commonwealth’s hospitality industry. Funding will be provided in the form of block grants to each county based on population and will be allocated by Feb. 28.

Grants will be awarded in $5,000 increments, with a $50,000 maximum.

Each county will administer the funding through one or more designated Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO) or Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which will process applications from businesses in each county. CEDOs or CDFIs must begin accepting applications from businesses by March 15.

Program guidelines are available on the Department of Community and Economic Development's website.  


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IFO School District Property Tax Forecast

An Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) report provides a forecast of school district property tax collections from fiscal year (FY) 2019-2020 to FY 2025-2026. The report also contains projections of the Act 1 index and estimates of school district property taxes attributable to homestead property.

According to the report, for FY 2018-2019, the most recent school property tax data published by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, current-year collections were $13.9 billion. Act 1 allocations for the same period were $533 million, while delinquent collections were $551 million. Total school district revenues related to property is $15.0 billion.

Based on an IFO analysis of millage rate and property tax assessment data, the report provides estimates for FY 2019-2020 and FY 2020-2021. Projections for FY 2021-2022 through FY 2025-2026 are made based on the statutory, economic, and structural factors that affect growth rates of school property taxes. 


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COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force Announced

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control data tracker, Pennsylvania ranks 41st in the percentage of received COVID-19 vaccines administered. Gov. Wolf and state lawmakers announced the establishment of a joint task force with members from each legislative caucus to tackle this issue.

Task force members will represent their caucus’s point of view and work to focus and drive issues of importance. Wolf administration members with the subject matter expertise also will serve as task force members to listen, collaborate, and provide information, answers, and suggestions to solve vaccination problems in a timely manner. The task force will meet as needed and provide updates to the full General Assembly via each of the task force members.


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Higher Education Redesign Focus of Senate Hearing

State lawmakers this week got a preview from Dan Greenstein, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), on his efforts to modernize and redesign the system. With declining enrollments and growing financial challenges, the General Assembly passed legislation last session to overhaul PASSHE’s 14 state-owned university system.

PASSHE is expected to present its system redesign proposal in April 2021, to be followed by a public comment period and phased implementation set for fall 2022. The changes are expected to include uniting several universities within geographic regions while keeping all campuses open, retaining programs and accreditation, and expanding learning opportunities. 


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