Legislation

Educational Gratuity Program provides assistance to children of veterans | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — As the school year approaches, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) wants eligible veterans with children to know that financial assistance is available to those attending post-high school education or training at an approved institution in the commonwealth through its Educational Gratuity Program.

“Every veteran has sacrificed in service to our nation, but some have sacrificed on a different level. This program is one way to show our gratitude while keeping our commitment of caring for their families,” said Brig. Gen. (PA) Maureen Weigl, deputy adjutant general of Veterans Affairs. “Eligible veterans whose children are planning to attend college or trade school after high school should not hesitate to apply for assistance through the Educational Gratuity Program.”

The program supports children of honorably discharged veterans who have 100% service-connected disabilities and served during a period of war or armed conflict, or children of veterans who die or died in service during a period of war or armed conflict. To be eligible, a child of a veteran must be between the ages of 16 and 23, living within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania five years prior to application and must attend a school within the commonwealth. All applicants must have a financial need.

Payments will not exceed $500 per term or semester per qualified child to each approved educational institution over a total of eight terms or semesters.

To apply, contact the County Veterans Affairs Director in the county you reside.

Meuser offers amendments

to Inflation Reduction Act

Expressing concern over potential tax increases on American families and small businesses in “The Inflation Reduction Act” (H.R. 5376), U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, offered two amendments to the legislation to protect low- and middle-income individuals from such tax hikes

Meuser said Congressional Democrats unanimously rejected the amendments.

“At a time when Americans are under extraordinary inflationary pressure, I offered a meaningful amendment to shield them from more taxes when they are already struggling to pay for gas, groceries, and utilities. I am disappointed these amendments were not included in the legislation,” Meuser said.

Meuser’s first amendment would have protected the low- and middle-income Americans from any tax hikes because of this bill, inserting text that would prohibit tax increases on them.

The non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated the proposal will increase taxes on millions of Americans, with more than half of the tax increases impacting Americans making less than $400,000 a year. In 2023, The JCT determined taxes will increase by $16.7 billion on taxpayers earning less than $200,000. Several economic analysts have concluded that the “The Inflation Reduction Act” will have statistically zero impact on reducing inflation and may even increase it in the year after implementation.

The second amendment requires the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to analyze the potential inflationary impact of reconciliation bills. The amendment would have inserted the text of H.R. 4181, Meuser’s “Stop Inflationary Spending Act,” to the bill.

As inflation hits all-time highs, Meuser emphasized the importance of the government taking appropriate steps to ensure excessive government spending does not further increase inflation.

“This amendment would have offered a long term look at the true effects of the legislation on inflation. It is a commonsense provision, and I am disappointed my Democrat colleagues rejected it,” Meuser said.

The Inflation Reduction Act also creates an “American Energy Tax” by increasing fees and taxes on oil production and methane. Meuser stated such hikes will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher gas prices, energy bills to heat and cool homes, and consumer prices.

“Americans are already bearing a substantial burden due to high energy prices,” Meuser said. “They will inevitably see higher prices due to taxes that will be passed along to consumers from taxes on energy producers. This legislation will only make matters worse.”

State urges aspiring farmers to

take advantage of PA Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding this week hosted a panel discussion highlighting Pennsylvania’s abundant resources for farmers looking to pass the torch to a new generation and for young people seeking to enter the field.

Held during Penn State University’s annual Ag Progress Days, the panel featured partners in businesses, non-profits, and the legislature along with farmers who have taken advantage of PA Farm Bill-funded assistance to succeed in agriculture.

“Pennsylvania leads the nation in protecting farmland and leads the nation in young people taking up farming,” said Redding. “But without increasing our numbers of young farmers even more, we can’t feed a growing population on that land. We still have work to do, but there is help available.”

“Last week, Governor Wolf joined us to celebrate the nearly $72 million Pennsylvania has invested in the future of agriculture through the PA Farm Bill,” Redding continued. “Leading young people to funding and connecting them with the expertise and resources to succeed is still our top priority.”

Pennsylvania leads the nation with 14 percent of the state’s farmers under 35, and with Lancaster County alone in 2020 having 2,400 young farmers, the most in any US county. Numbers have grown significantly since 2012, but farmers over 65 outnumber those under 35 by six to one.

Supporting new and aspiring farmers and those seeking to pass their operations to new owners was one of the primary goals of the PA Farm Bill. The farm bill established the Agricultural Business Development Center to connect farmers with resources, expertise and financing; Beginning Farmer Realty Transfer Tax Exemptions as added tax incentive for owners of preserved farms to lease or sell their assets to beginning farmers; and Next Generation Farm Loans to reduce costs for young farmers expanding or establishing new operations.

To date, the state has financed 20 loans totaling $11,104,000 in tax-exempt, low-interest loans to Lancaster and Chester County farms through the Next Generation Farmer Loan Program. The program gives beginning farmers access to affordable capital to purchase farmland or agricultural equipment, lowering interest rates and boosting farm profits through a unique state-federal-private industry partnership.

“Pennsylvania’s economy is strong and growing,” said Gov. Wolf when the program’s first loans were financed in March 2022. “Seven years of sound fiscal management and prudent investments in building our agriculture infrastructure and capacity help our farmers continue feeding our economy and our families. We’ve seen farm profits and production rise over the past year and are committed to feeding that momentum by raising a new generation of farmers and supporting the growth of the Pennsylvania farms we’re so proud of.”

Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Chairman Elder Vogel joined the panel to discuss the PA Farm Bill’s Beginning Farmer programs and the Ag Education Excellence Commission which works to ensure that Pennsylvania schools curricula lay the groundwork for a workforce that is agile enough to innovate and adopt rapidly changing farm technology. Senator Vogel has championed both programs in the General Assembly.

The department has certified 41 beginning farmers, and in turn, preserved farm owners and beginning farmers have received $425,338 in Beginning Farmer Realty Transfer Tax Exemptions for the sale of farm property to young people picking up the torch to farm in the future.

Additionally, 12 farm owners have received Beginning Farmer Tax Credits of $199,561 for leasing or selling their property to beginning farmers.

Keller votes no on ‘reckless’

Democrat spending spree

U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Williamsport, released the following statement after voting against Washington Democrats’ so-called Inflation Reduction Act:

“This bill should really be called the ‘Income Reduction Act’ because it raises taxes on working Americans and kills jobs. Americans are facing a recession brought on by President Biden’s failed policies.

Yet, the Democrat elite in Washington thinks it’s a good idea to push through a reckless $750 billion bill that further crushes the middle class, hires 87,000 new IRS agents to audit small businesses and working families, and spends over $350 billion on Green New Deal initiatives.

“Beyond the obvious concern that our government is spending outside of its means, the core of this bill is all about control. Americans don’t want more big government. They want a government that gets out of the way and allows them to create opportunities for their families and communities.

“President Reagan hit the nail on the head when he said of Washington politicians, ‘We could say they spend like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors, because the sailors are spending their own money.’”

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.


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