Quite a bit of Gov. Tom Wolf's budget address was focused on taxes, including raising the personal income tax for some, lowering it for others and eliminating it completely for more. He also said Pennsylvania businesses need a break. "My plan cuts taxes to Pennsylvania businesses by 25-percent. No longer will we be asking our businesses that power our economy to pay the highest rate in the nation," Wolf says. Most of the governor's plans were announced a day prior to his address, including raising the personal income tax for those in a household earning $84,000 or more from 3.07-percent to 4.49-percent, something he says would result in $3 billion more to be used in public schools.
Gov. Tom Wolf's push to raise Pennsylvania's personal income tax did not get a warm reception from Republican leaders who call the idea 'dead on arrival.' "This suggestion might fill a hole for the short-term but if we're looking for long-term sustainability, this is going to directly be counter to that because our revenues are going to grow slower and we're not going to solve our long-term problems," says Lehigh Valley St. Sen. Pat Browne, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. He also says, "The governor could not have picked a worse time to propose a 46.3-percent increase in the personal income tax."
The Pennsylvania Department of Health Wednesday added 3128 new cases of COVID-19 to the state's overall total, which now stands at 853,616. Another 143 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported. The state's overall number has now reached 21,955. Meanwhile, the state reports now more than 1-million vaccinations have been administered in the commonwealth, including more than 216,000 people who've received both doses and are considered fully covered.
The Nazareth teachers union is calling on the Nazareth Area School District to address their safety concerns regarding COVID-19. The union says it will move to all-remote learning if the district doesn't make changes to keep teachers safe from the virus. District officials say mitigation efforts have led to a low number of cases and parents have the option to chose between in-person or online learning.
For the second year in a row, the COVID-19 pandemic means the Allentown St. Patrick's Parade is being canceled. However, a virtual event is being planned to broadcast on Sunday, March 21 at 12 p.m. on Service Electric Cable TV, Facebook and YouTube. The event will feature live music and dance segments, being performed remotely, and highlights from past parades.
State health officials are advising you to not host or attend large gatherings this year for the Super Bowl. They say now is not the time to let your guard down as we need the virus to continue to decline in our communities and hospitals. Football fans are encouraged to watch the game this Sunday night with only members of their own household.
New Jersey is switching up indoor dining rules once again, allowing restaurants to welcome more guests and keep their doors open longer. Gov. Phil Murphy says restaurants will be allowed to sit patrons indoors at 35-percent capacity and he's no longer mandating they close their doors at 10pm. The new rules go into effect tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock and also apply to gyms, casinos and hair salons. Meantime, the indoor gathering limit for religious events, wedding services or political activities will also jump to 35-percent with a cap of 150 people.
The New Jersey Department of Health says this week's coronavirus vaccine shipments are still arriving after being held up by the winter storm blitz. It comes as all six of the state's vaccination sites re-opened Wednesday. Meanwhile, the mega-site in Gloucester County is clearing up confusion pertaining to the second dose of the vaccine. Officials promise anyone who got their first shots of the vaccine at the Rowan College of South Jersey will receive the second dose there as well.
New Jersey is expecting more independent coronavirus vaccination sites to launch as early as next week. It will be part of a federal retail pharmacy program in partnership with Rite Aid and CVS. Gov. Phil Murphy says it will expand the state's reach to areas of high need, especially since the locations will receive direct shipments from the federal government. CVS is planning to start opening sites as soon as February 11th, but Murphy says the state is still working out details with Rite Aid.
Bethlehem’s old Boyd Theatre will be turned into 14-story luxury apartment building with a rooftop restaurant and underground parking garage. DLP Real Estate Capital is partnering with Monocacy General Contracting to revitalize the property, which housed the Boyd until it was closed in 2011 and adjacent storefronts until they were condemned four years later. Monocacy officials say they'll incorporate elements of the old theater, including the original Boyd sign, into the new development. DLP Real Estate Capital CEO Don Wenner says, “We look forward to welcoming individuals and families to their new apartment homes in addition to an increase in businesses and commerce downtown.” The project is expected to begin within the next three-to-five months and could be wrapped up as soon as the third quarter of next year.
The long task of snow removal continues today and tonight in Allentown. Beginning at 7 this morning, crews will be hauling snow from Walnut Street and North 12th Street. Then beginning at 7 tonight, another set of workers will be removing snow from Front Street and 4th Street. All the snow removed is then dumped at the city's wastewater treatment plant property off of Union Street. Any vehicle not removed from the work areas will be ticketed and towed. Free off-street parking is available in the Arena North Deck on West Linden Street, at the Allentown Fairgrounds by using Gate 8 on Liberty Street and the Allentown School District parking deck at 18th and Turner streets.
An attorney from Lancaster County is facing several charges after he allegedly attempted to travel to Washington DC to kill government officials. Kenelm Shirk III was taken into custody at a convenience store near Shippensburg about a week ago after authorities found him in possession of an AR-15 rifle, two handguns, rope, gloves, a large amount of ammunition and about $5000 in cash. Police say Shirk threatened to kill his wife and told her he was planning to go do DC to also kill several government officials.
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is now on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He previously served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will chair the Senate Special Committee on Aging. The Democrat said Thursday he's looking forward to promoting policies to keep the country safe and further our interests.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is launching a new podcast called 'PDE Presents.' The department announced the new podcast and launched its first episode on Thursday. The podcast centers on the department's mission and outcome of education. New episodes are going to be made available every month on the department's YouTube channel.
New Jersey's Supreme Court says it's making good on its efforts to ensure equal justice. Judges across the state have cut probationary terms short for more than 500 adults and minors who have demonstrated rehabilitation. The courts say 819 probationers were reviewed and 577 individuals were completely free from probation. To be considered, those on probation needed to fulfill at least half of their term without violating probation and have no indication of drug use in the past six months.