The dust is starting to settle now that a state budget has been approved for the 2022-23 fiscal year, and that means there’s a lot to make sense of now that a $45.2 billion deal is enshrined in law. There have been a number of budget-related surprises already, including money for three new state parks and expansion of a property tax relief program. And that’s just a small sampling of some of the news that surfaced this week. For more headlines and state and local politics news from the week, keep reading.
State sets up new grant program for election funding
For a city that’s so politically charged, there was a lot of bipartisan compromise in Harrisburg during this year’s budget cycle. Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers agreed to ban private election grants, removing the ability for county governments to accept outside funding for elections, and instead create a $45 million grant program to give counties the opportunity to apply for state election funding. The funding was welcomed by county officials, though some of the conditions have raised concerns among county leaders.
Fetterman raises record-breaking $11 million
Speaking of election-related money, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee John Fetterman raised a lot of it during the most recent fundraising period. Fetterman’s campaign reported raising $11 million in the second quarter of this year, which campaign officials say is the most ever brought in by a Pennsylvania Senate candidate in one quarter. Campaign finance numbers for his general election opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, have yet to be published by the Federal Election Commission.
New child tax credit created in state budget
Another initiative tucked into the state budget is a new, permanent child care tax credit that will allow people with dependents to receive a credit for up to 30% of child care costs that are claimed on an individual’s federal taxes. The program mirrors the federal Child Tax Credit and is designed to provide relief to working families. According to an analysis by Spotlight PA, families with one dependent can claim up to $3,000 in expenses, while families with two or more dependents can claim up to $6,000.
Fitzgerald vetoes county park fracking ban
Members of Allegheny County Council attempted to ban new natural gas drilling in and underneath county parks, but the effort was ultimately not to be, as County Executive Rich Fitzgerald vetoed the measure this week. In a statement, Fitzgerald said he had no intention of allowing new drilling to occur in county parks, but said leasing inquiries should be considered on a “case-by-case” basis. “While I have no plans to lease any further gas rights at this time, and while a majority of Council may currently oppose such plans, those things could change in the future,” he added.