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Nine-Month Budget Impasse Finally Reaches Its Conclusion
After nine long months, the 2015-16 state budget impasse finally reached its end last week when Governor Wolf announced that he would allow a budget bill created by legislators to become law. I am relieved that this action will help us avoid a host of terrible consequences threatened by the Governor, including the possibility of premature school closures, more than a thousand lost jobs in the agriculture industry and curtailed services at rural hospitals.
Although the budget has become law, the Governor still vetoed the Fiscal Code bill that dictates how certain funds are driven out to our schools and communities. Work is already underway to address this issue.
The end of this year’s budget process allows us to look forward to next year’s spending plan. Although both sides appear to be far apart on reaching an agreement, I remain hopeful that we can move forward to consider next year’s budget honestly and without the ugly rhetoric that marred the previous debate.
My statement regarding Governor Wolf’s announcement is available here.
Legislation Would Help Connect Patients with Mental Health Services
A recent report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette identified gaps in the state's efforts to match patients who have an acute psychiatric problem with the care they need. This week, I introduced legislation that would help improve communication between hospital emergency rooms and psychiatric units to better match patients with services while also reducing the considerable strain on emergency room staff.
In current practice, patients in need of mental health care often wait several hours while staff locate inpatient beds in another facility or make transfer arrangements. My legislation would help improve communication between hospital emergency rooms and psychiatric units by creating a real-time, voluntary registry to identify psychiatric treatment facilities that have available beds for patients. The measure would help reduce the amount of staff time spent searching for available beds.
Twenty-two other states and the District of Columbia already have similar registries in place to improve patient care. I believe my legislation will help Pennsylvania adopt the same practice.
Tele-Town Hall Features Thoughtful Discussion
Thank you to all of the community residents who took part in my recent telephone town hall. The event featured a lively and interesting discussion about the issues facing our state and our communities, and I appreciated all of the input and feedback. The people of southwestern Pennsylvania continue to be an incredible resource, and there is no better format to gather your perspectives than these tele-town hall events.
As the 2016-17 budget process unfolds, I hope to host another tele-town hall in the near future to continue to gather your thoughts and opinions.
Coffee With Camera Events Scheduled in Beaver, Washington Counties
If you missed out on my recent telephone town hall, or if you would prefer a more relaxed and informal conversation about what is happening in our community, I hope you will consider joining me for one of my upcoming “Coffee With Camera” events next week on April 7 and 8.
The event on April 7 will be held in the Hopewell Township Municipal Building located at 1700 Clark Boulevard in Aliquippa. The event on April 8 will be held in the South Franklin Municipal Township Building at 100 Municipal Road in Washington.
Both events are free and will be held from 10 a.m. until noon. I hope to see you there!
Legislation Would Expand Opportunities for Smaller Construction Companies
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local and state economies, employing thousands of community residents throughout the region and millions across Pennsylvania. This week, I introduced legislation that would help smaller construction firms bid on state road projects.
Current law requires businesses to submit complex financial statements that can cost as much as $10,000 to complete in order to bid on state road projects. My legislation would help ease this burden on small businesses by simplifying a reporting requirement for companies that bid on road projects of $1 million or less.
Under my proposal, businesses would still be required to submit financial statements prior to bidding. However, the type of statements that would be required for smaller projects would be less restrictive and expensive than those required of larger firms that work on more expensive projects.
More information on the proposal is available here.
For more information on issues of importance to southwestern Pennsylvania, please visit my website at www.senatorbartolotta.com and connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatorbartolotta) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/senbartolotta).
SouthPointe District Office
Greene County Office Building