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State Representative

Serving the 91st Legislative District

DAN MOUL

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID HARRISBURG, PA PERMIT NO. 529

FALL 2009

Dear Neighbor,
Pennsylvania finally has a state budget, but it is far from perfect and leaves many issues unresolved. The budget took far too long to settle – going more than 100 days beyond the state-mandated deadline of June 30. During the impasse, day care centers, libraries and community services that rely on state funding were affected, and some people lost their jobs. In light of the fact that our prior fiscal year ended with a $3.2 billion budget deficit, I was determined to reduce spending. I supported sensible budget plans that cut spending below the previous year’s level yet preserved funding for essential government services. I also rejected attempts to impose major increases in the Personal Income Tax (PIT) and sales tax, which I believe would have had a detrimental effect given the current economic climate. Just as most of you spend according to what you make, I believe the state must do the same, and have a balanced budget in place by June 30 each year. There is no excuse for delays, and vital services should not be subject to a line-item veto that serves to pressure the Legislature to pass a budget that is not in the best interest of Pennsylvania citizens. I did not vote in favor of the budget because the $27.8 billion plan overspends, burdens Pennsylvanians with $500 million in new or increased taxes, and relies too heavily on stimulus funding and one-time revenue. It also drains critical state reserve accounts, leaving the state without a safety net going into the 2010-11 fiscal year. One of the casualties of our tough economic times is the annual calendar that many of you have enjoyed receiving. Because of my mother’s passing, it was necessary for me to cancel my town hall meetings in October. I hope you can all stop by and visit me at my district office during my Holiday Open House. I hope to see you there!

Please join me and my s aff for our ... t

HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE

Date: Time:

Thursday, December 10th 11 am - 2 pm and 4 pm - 7 pm

Location:

30 W. Middle Street Gettysburg

Moul Planning Event Honoring Our Veterans
Next year I will be hosting an event in honor of our military veterans. If you served in the U.S military and you live in the 91st Legislative District, please contact my office at (717) 334-3010, and tell us how we may contact you. I am looking forward to meeting and honoring those who served our great country.

Happy Holidays!

RepMoul.com

BUDGET PROCESS TOO LON
While most Pennsylvanians were relieved when Gov. Ed Rendell ended a more than 100day-long stalemate by signing a state budget into law, I voted no due to the tax hikes and excessive spending in the final budget agreement. Tax Hikes The budget includes a 25cent-per-pack increase in the state tax on cigarettes and creates a new tax on “little cigars” at $1.60 per pack. The state spending plan also calls for a $374 million tax on Pennsylvania employers at a time when the Commonwealth’s workers and job creators are reeling from the international economic recession. In addition, the budget includes a tax on Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). At various points during the budget process, the governor called for both a Personal Income Tax (PIT) increase and an expansion of the state Sales and Use Tax (SUT). The General Assembly was able to block both of the governor’s broad-based tax increases. Draining the Reserve Accounts Budget negotiators balanced the state spending plan, in part, by draining several reserve accounts. The Commonwealth had built up a $755 million Rainy Day Fund that is intended to help the state pay for unanticipated expenses. That fund will be completely depleted during the current budget year. The budget also calls for depleting the $708 million Health Care Provider Retention Account and taking $100 million from the MCare Fund. Both of these funds are used to help cover the cost of medical malpractice for the health care industry. Furthermore, $150 million would be taken from the Tobacco Settlement fund, which receives money from a federal lawsuit and allocates those funds for tobacco prevention and statewide health care programs. By draining the state’s reserve accounts, nothing will be available next year. This could be devastating in the event the economy does not turn around. Given the fact that state revenues are already $160.2 million short for the year, this is a serious concern. Federal Bailout Dollars The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which, among other things, provided federal dollars to subsidize state budgets. The Pennsylvania state budget includes more than $2.6 billion in federal bailout money. Added to the nearly $25.2 billion in state dollars in the final budget, this means the Commonwealth will spend approximately $27.8 billion in the current spending plan. Due in part to the extensive use of federal dollars for education, school districts in the 91st Legislative District received large increases in funding within the state budget. Although I am an advocate for education, this level of spending cannot be maintained once the federal money runs out in a couple of years, which means taxpayers will have to make up the difference. This, in my opinion, is not an ideal situation. 2010-11 Budget Process We will be working on the 2010-11 budget in less than three months, and we must follow our constitutional obligation to get a state budget passed on time. There are several legislative proposals currently being circulated that might help expedite the process and put measures in place to hold the General Assembly more accountable. Those initiatives should be coming before the House and Senate in the next few months.

RepMoul.com

NG, TOO COSTLY
Welfare Reform Sorely Needed
State Auditor General Jack Wagner recently released a report on fraud and inefficiencies within the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW), and Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham has charged DPW employees and others in multiple cases of alleged welfare fraud. Welfare spending accounts for more than one-third of the entire state budget. It is responsible for administering programs and funding for our state’s most vulnerable citizens, including children, the elderly and disabled citizens. These precious dollars must be guarded so that monies go to qualified recipients. Welfare fraud drains these resources. Wagner has so far uncovered more than $600 million in losses to fraud, and earlier this year 12 people, including nine DPW employees, were arrested on charges they stole $500,000 from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides heating assistance to low-income people. Few safeguards presently exist to protect the state and taxpayers from these abuses. I believe that significant savings may be achieved by closing loopholes to ensure the integrity of the welfare system. I support efforts to verify the identity and eligibility of those who receive public assistance and other measures to ensure that state money is going to those for whom it is intended. One measure would empower county assistance offices to report cases of suspected fraud directly to the Office of Inspector General. This would give personnel, who are local and have direct contact with welfare recipients, the opportunity to report applicants who provide false information in order to receive public assistance benefits such as Medical Assistance, cash assistance or food stamps. Commonsense measures are necessary to protect your tax dollars and to enable us to continue to serve those who are truly in need.

Moul expresses his support for a group protesting the state budget impasse on the Capitol steps in August.

Table Games Threaten Equine Industry, Promise No Tax Relief
The original slots legislation passed in 2004 was sold to us on the promise of property tax relief. After five years, we have seen little in the way of meaningful relief. Now the state is planning to expand gaming to include the legalization of table games. This is bad policy for Adams County, the state’s equine industry and Pennsylvania taxpayers. A percentage of slots revenue supports the horse racing industry in the Commonwealth. Adding table games to the mix will hurt the state’s equine industry by drawing people away from slots. As slots revenue declines, so does the financial support for the equine industry. This will also have a detrimental impact on all of the businesses that support the industry and the jobs those businesses provide. I am not against table games to bring in added revenue to the Commonwealth. However, it must be done responsibly. Proposals under consideration now would shortchange Pennsylvania in terms of the state’s share of proceeds and licensing fees. They also ignore the basic premise on which legalized gambling was originally approved – property tax relief.

Arts Funding Announced
Congratulations to the following Adams County cultural organizations on receiving grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts:     Adams County Arts Council Gettysburg Chamber Orchestra The Gettysburg Review The Majestic Theater

RepMoul.com

Beware of Propane Price Gouging
When it comes to buying propane in Pennsylvania, you would do well to shop around and become an informed consumer. Propane, which is made from oil and gas, is produced at two refineries in the U.S. Prices for propane shot up last year in response to higher oil prices and increased demand on domestic energy sources. However, as market prices for oil and gas decreased, many propane retailers did not follow suit. In many cases, prices remained high and consumers were expected to bear the cost. Last winter, as oil and gas prices fell, my propane dealer was still charging me almost $4 dollars per gallon. What’s worse, the statewide average price per gallon of propane at that time was $2.79! Upon further investigation, I found that I was paying surcharges and fees that I had never agreed to. In order to ensure you are not paying too much for propane, consumers must do their homework. You can check the average retail price for propane in Pennsylvania on the U.S. Department of Energy Web site at www.energy.gov. Also, be sure to check your local yellow pages. You will find a listing of propane retailers who serve your area. Compare costs and see if you’re getting your money’s worth. If you do not own your own fuel tank, companies that deliver propane will provide a tank in which to store your fuel. This is not free, however. The price of your fuel will include an additional amount to cover the cost of the tank rental. Those fees may add substantially to the per gallon price you pay. You should also know that, as a practice, companies will not put fuel in a tank owned by another company, therefore limiting your delivery choices to the company that owns the tank. To avoid this and the tank rental fees, and to afford yourself the flexibility to purchase fuel at the lowest possible price, you can negotiate with your current provider to purchase your tank at a depreciated price. You would also do well to avoid signing lengthy contracts with your provider. I encourage you to challenge the prices and fees you are being charged. If the cost seems too high, check the U.S. Department of Energy Web site to compare prices in your area. Complacency is expensive, but being an informed consumer will save you money.

CONSUMER ALERT

Wine a Growing Agribusiness in Adams County
The wine industry is growing in Pennsylvania and a good example of that growth can be seen right here in Adams County. Franklin Township is home to three wineries -- Adams County Winery, Hauser Estate Winery and the brand new Reid’s Orchard & Winery. Wineries play an important role in the county’s agriculture and tourism industries, complementing our many local fruit growers and creating jobs. I had the occasion to tour two of these wineries during the recent harvest. The tours are being featured on Adams Community Television (ACTV) over the next couple of months.

Moul gets a lesson on the aging process in winemaking from winemaker Michelle Oaks on a recent tour of Hauser Estate Winery.

Applications Available for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

Moul and Adams County Winery co-owner John Kramb watch as a fresh load of grapes is being prepared for production.

Applications for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program are still available. Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on income and rent or property taxes paid in 2008. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are at least 65 years old, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and persons 18 years or older with disabilities. Residents are reminded to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately. The application deadline has been extended to Dec. 31, 2009. Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications are available by contacting my district office at (717) 334-3010 or by visiting my Web site at www.RepMoul.com. To check the status of a rebate, individuals can visit my Web site and click on “Where’s My Property Tax Refund?” To check the status of your rebate, you will need your Social Security number, date of birth and anticipated rebate amount. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is one of many initiatives supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery, which dedicates its proceeds to support programs for older Pennsylvanians. Since the program began in 1971, more than $4 billion has been paid to qualified applicants.

Constituent Services

My staff and I are here to serve you. If you need help with any state-related matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.
District Office 30 West Middle Street / Gettysburg, PA 17325 / 717-334-3010 / Toll Free 1-866-646-4915 Harrisburg Office G-32 Irvis Office Building / PO Box 202091 / Harrisburg, PA 17120-2091 / 717-783-5217

REPMOUL.COM