1. #1
    FH Mag/.com Contributor

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    Default PA's State Level R&R....

    SENATE APPROVES WAUGH AND BAKER TAX CREDIT BILLS FOR
    VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND EMS WORKERS

    HARRISBURG - Following a morning press conference where they were
    joined by fellow Senators and emergency responders, Senators Mike
    Waugh (R-York) and Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) garnered Senate passage of
    their three-bill package to provide tax credits to fire and emergency
    service volunteers and their employers.

    "Pennsylvania currently has a very commendable 70,000 volunteer
    emergency personnel; however, our 2,462 volunteer fire and EMS
    departments continue to struggle with recruitment and retention," said
    Waugh. "Tax credits are one way we can assist them in their efforts to
    attract and retain dedicated volunteers."

    The three bills passed by the Senate today are as follows:

    SB1314 (Baker) - Establishes a $500 tax credit for active members
    of volunteer firefighting and emergency medical services
    organizations, as certified by the State Fire Commissioner or the
    Director of the Emergency Medical Services Office in the Department of
    Health.

    SB1315 (Waugh) - Creates a post-secondary education tuition
    reimbursement program, providing volunteer firefighters, emergency
    services personnel, and fire police a reimbursement of 50 percent for
    each course credit, to be paid directly to the college or university.

    SB1316 (Baker) - Establishes a $1,000 tax credit against an
    employer's personal income tax for each volunteer fire and emergency
    services member who is employed. The credit could not exceed $5,000
    per employer during a specific tax year.

    Waugh's SB1315 was amended in the Senate Appropriations Committee
    last week to expand the tuition reimbursement program to volunteers
    attending independent colleges and universities. Prior to the
    amendment only students attending community college, a state-related
    university, or a state-owned university were eligible. In order to
    maintain an equitable reimbursement level, the reimbursement rate for
    students at independent institutions will be up to 50 percent of the
    state-related institutions' average tuition cost.

    "Our young people are the future of our communities and our
    emergency response crews," said Waugh. "It is because of them I
    introduced SB 1315 to allow them to continue serving as a volunteer
    while furthering their education."

    Waugh also acknowledged that this package of legislation is long-
    overdue for the rest of Pennsylvania's emergency responders as well.

    "This package of bills will provide much-needed assistance to
    Pennsylvania's volunteer fire and emergency response personnel - who
    often work full-time jobs outside of their volunteer duties - and the
    companies that employ them," Waugh said. "These dedicated personnel
    work long hours, face enormous risks and often make financial
    sacrifices to serve the community."

    SB1314, SB1315, and SB1316 are results of the 2004 "Senate
    Resolution 60 First Responder Commission Report," which included
    recommendations made by a bi-partisan commission established the
    previous year under Senate Resolution 60, sponsored by Waugh. The
    commission was charged with studying and enhancing emergency services
    across the Commonwealth.

    The bills will now be sent to the House for consideration.

    Any other states have anything like this? Wish they had the tuition credit in the early 90s when I was paying those bills...

  2. #2
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    Default

    Wow, that's a huge bill. The two tax credits alone are $105mm. Tuition credit is hard to figure. The employer tax credit is an awesome thing--could radically reduce some of the job related stresses that responding brings out. Plus...employers lose a ton of productivity and rarely get a mention.

    Brian--if they do this in TX, would you be eligible for both sides???

    earl

  3. #3
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    Maybe, I make enough donations to the IRS on both sides I can use two good breaks.

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