Pa. revenue increased more than $51 million in April

Pennsylvania’s revenue for April increased $51.1 million to $5.7 billion, Acting Revenue Secretary Pat Browne reported Monday. 

The amount was 0.9% above estimate. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $37.9 billion, which is $1.2 billion or 3.3% more than anticipated. 

Sales tax receipts totaled $1.2 billion for the month, $43.1 million above estimate. Year-to-date sales tax collections total $11.7 billion, which is $227.6 million, or 2.0%, more than anticipated. 

April’s personal income tax (PIT) revenue was $2.9 billion, $322.0 million below estimate. This brings year-to-date PIT collections to $14.9 billion, which is $406.4 million, or 2.7%, below what was anticipated.

The corporation tax revenue of $992.1 million for the month was $261.3 million above estimate. Year-to-date corporation tax collections total $7.2 billion, which is $1.1 billion, or 18.7%, above expectations.

April’s inheritance tax revenue totaled $118.7 million, $5.5 million more than anticipated, bringing the year-to-date total to $1.3 billion, which is $36.4 million, or 3.0%, above estimate.

Realty transfer tax revenue was $41.9 million for the month, $21.8 million below estimate, bringing the fiscal-year total to $528.9 million, which is $95.4 million, or 15.3%, less than expected.

Other General Fund tax revenue, including cigarette, malt beverage, liquor and gaming taxes, totaled $61.9 million for April, $18.5 million more than expected. This brings the year-to-date total to $1.4 billion, which is $12.6 million, or 0.9%, above estimate.

The non-tax revenue for the month totaled $310 million, $66.4 million more than expected, bringing the year-to-date total to $986.2 million, which is $286.8 million, or 41%, above estimate.

Along with General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $291 million for April, which was $4.5 million below estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund – which include gas and diesel taxes, as well as other license, fine and fee revenues – total $2.4 billion, which is $66 million, or 2.8%, more than anticipated. 

Lehigh Valley Dems back Browne appointment to Department of Revenue

Pat Browne –

Governor-elect Josh Shapiro-D has reached out across party lines and appointed former State Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, to lead the state’s Department of Revenue. 

Browne’s appointment to the post of secretary is getting backed by members of his democratic, Lehigh Valley delegation representatives as well. 

State Reps. Mike Schlossberg, D-Allentown, Peter Schweyer, D-Allentown, and Josh Siegel, D-Allentown, offered their support for the appointment. 

 “The people of Allentown, the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania will all benefit from Gov.-elect Shapiro’s appointment of former Senator Browne. Pat Browne has been a champion for the Lehigh Valley for years,” the three state reps said in a statement. “He’s worked across the aisle to advance increased investments in early learning, community schools, revitalization in our cities and towns and helped to put the Lehigh Valley on the map as a force for economic growth in the commonwealth.” 

They said those are not Democrat or Republican priorities, but Pennsylvania priorities. 

 “Pat’s a Republican. We’re Democrats. Gov.-elect Shapiro understands he needs to work with Republicans and Democrats to do the good work that will benefit us all. Selecting experienced and knowledgeable people like Pat Browne to lead a critical department shows a commitment to doing the difficult and important work we all were elected to do,” the statement said. 

The representatives said that the Department of Revenue needs steady leadership right now.  

Taxpayers and tax preparers have voiced their displeasure at the long waits for routine processing and refunds, they said.  

People are saying they can rarely reach a service representative for assistance.  

“The department has significant needs. Pat Browne’s professional experience and work as a legislator will be important for making needed improvements to help taxpayers. As important, we look forward to continuing to work with Pat and Gov.-elect Shapiro to advance investments in education and continue to grow the economic base of our region and Pennsylvania,” they said. 

Pa. homeowners to benefit from new program

Senators Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County, and Nikil Saval, D-Philadelphia, joined local elected officials and members of the Allentown community on Friday to announce the publication of the Whole-Home Repairs program guidelines. 

The first of its kind in the country, the Whole-Home Repairs Program is creating a one-stop shop for Pennsylvanians to adapt, repair, and weatherize their homes.  

The program provides up to $50,000 for accessibility measures, energy efficiency upgrades, and habitability repairs; allocating support staff to ensure applicants receive the assistance they need in the order they need it; and funding pre-apprenticeship and training programs to build a skilled local workforce capable to meeting the growing statewide demand. 

“The Whole-Home Repairs Program is a $125-million commitment, the largest investment the General Assembly has made in recent history, to improving the quality of our existing housing stock,” Browne said in a statement. “By giving hardworking families the resources necessary to improve their homes and complete needed repairs and energy saving projects, we are directly investing in our neighborhoods and communities. I am proud to have worked with Senator Saval and my colleagues in the General Assembly to enact this vital new program.” 

Senator-Elect Nick Miller, D-Lehigh and Northampton counties joined Browne, who is retiring, and Saval to share updates on the development of the Whole-Home Repairs Program. 

“I was honored to join both Senators Saval and Browne in my new district to support the Whole-Home Repairs Program and the financial relief it will provide homeowners across the Commonwealth,” said Miller. “I’m excited to get started in my new role. Being out here with lawmakers who have actively made a difference in the lives of constituents, makes me even more eager to begin fighting for the 14th Senatorial District.” 

The youngest member to be elected to the Pennsylvania Senate, Miller will be sworn in Jan. 3, 2023. He will represent parts of both Lehigh and Northampton counties. 

The program is administered statewide by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, and locally at the county level by designated County Administrators who are responsible for the following: 

  • Administer the program, hire staff, and implement systems and data management tools designed to maximize enrollment in all existing home repair programs administered by nonprofit organizations, government entities, and public utilities; 
  • Invest in workforce development programs that will connect trainees to jobs through committed employer partnerships related to improving the habitability and performance of homes, including cash stipends for trainees and costs related to the design and implementation of pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeships and publicly funded on the job training programs; 
  • Work directly with eligible homeowners and landlords on the application process. 

“The Whole-Home Repairs Program was born from the notion that no one should be denied a home that is safe, a home that is healthy, simply because they don’t have the resources they need to fix them,” Saval said. “The publication of the program guidelines is a monumental step toward delivering Whole-Home Repairs Program funds for those who need them. Our work continues until applications for residents open this coming spring. And our work continues after that, too – we’re not finished until all Pennsylvanians have what we need to make our homes whole.” 

Michael Handzo, Housing Manager at Community Action Lehigh Valley, said that as a home is one of the most fundamental human rights for basic human dignity, the timing of the announcement could not have been better. 

“This is the season of thanks, and I’m so grateful for the partnership that brought the Whole-Home Repairs Program into existence and the partnership that is emerging for us to support our communities.” 

Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk thanked Senators Browne and Saval for working to create and move the program through the General Assembly. “Unquestionably, this program will directly impact the lives of Allentown residents, helping them to make vital repairs and improvements to their homes and community.” 

Applications from County Administrators will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis between Dec. 12, 2022, and Jan. 31, 2023. All applications and required supplemental information must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2023. 

State rep: Allentown State Hospital demolition is ‘right thing to do’

The Allentown State Hospital on Hanover Avenue in Allentown. (Photo by Christopher Holland) –

As plans to demolish the Allentown State Hospital on Hanover Avenue in East Allentown get back on track, Allentown’s Democratic state Rep. Mike Schlossberg is saying it’s the right thing to do.

“We need to move forward with demolition,” he said.

State Sen. Pat Browne (R-Allentown) introduced legislation June 3 that would call for a competitive-bid sale of the nearly 200-acre property, but only after demolition of all structures on the property, except for a state-owned air monitoring station.

Original demolition plans were put on hold last month after an Allentown developer, Nat Hyman, filed a lawsuit against the project. He withdrew a preliminary injunction against the state after it agreed to put the demolition on hold and give him 30 days’ notice if it restarted demolition plans.

Schlossberg said part of the bill does address the issues brought forth in the lawsuit and is aimed at getting the demolition back on track and the property sold.

Hyman had relied on a local ordinance in his original lawsuit, but the legislation introduced by Browne directly states that it would supersede any local ordinances, taking the wind out of Hyman’s legal challenge.

The bill also would terminate negotiations with TCA Properties of Doylestown, which had been awarded a contract to purchase the property at a negotiated rate after the demolition was complete.

Schlossberg said since the state announced that it would be demolishing the property, a number of new parties have come forward and he expects there will be interest in buying the land once the buildings are gone.

He noted that prior to that notice the property had sat vacant with little to no interest for a long time.

“For nine years people would tour the property and say, ‘Nope. We can’t do this in a way that is economically responsible.’ It’s time to move on,” he said.

Hyman, who has redeveloped a number of properties in Allentown, has said he can successfully rehabilitate the vacant properties and he disagrees with those who say it can’t be done.

Hyman said he was unsure if there was anything he could or would do to continue his fight if Browne’s bill becomes law.

“I will be talking to my lawyer,” he said. “This is very disappointing.”

Besides Hyman’s interest there had been other public outcry over the demolition of the 107-year-old hospital on the property.

The property and its main building got a great deal of attention after the release earlier this year of the M. Night Shyamalan movie “Glass,” which was filmed on the property in 2017.

That shined a spotlight on some of the structure’s historic architecture, and a number of petitions were circulated in the Lehigh Valley calling for its preservation. Those petitions gathered several thousand signatures.

But Schlossberg said the important part of the proposed legislation was that it puts a guiding hand over the future of the property.

Under the legislation, a committee would be established to review bids. On the committee would be Browne and Schlossberg, the state secretary of General Services and a representative of the city of Allentown.

The committee would take bids, but consider them based on what is best for the community and not just the highest dollar bid.

Browne did not return calls for comment.