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The Post  
PA Gov. Wolf Budget Address, Education/Taxes; ATF Investigates Playland Fire; Villanova COVID Spike
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 02/04/21 5:27 pm | updated: 02/04/21 5:27 pm
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf laid out his fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget and legislative plan on Wednesday, 2/3. The biggest proposal in the $37.8 billion spending plan is for a large increase in public education spending, almost $2 billion that is a 20% increase, with an emphasis on fair and equitable funding. The money will come from an increase in the state income tax from 3.07% to 4.49% or a 46.3% increase. Wolf is proposing changes to the income tax system that will lessen the burden on working-class and low-income families. The special tax forgiveness credit will be expanded and many people will see their taxes stay the same, reduced, or eliminated. The proposal increases the allowances for tax forgiveness to $15,000 for single filers, $30,000 for married filers, and $10,000 allowance for each dependent. Pennsylvania's mid-higher earners will be paying the brunt of the tax increase.

The business tax rate for many small businesses is tied to the personal income rate, meaning a significant increase for those hard hit by the pandemic. Other parts of the proposal call for comprehensive charter school reform, raising the minimum wage, election reform, government accountability, and legalizing recreational marijuana. The GOP-led Pennsylvania legislature and the governor will have to come together on a package by June 30.

SEE: Governor Wolf Delivers 2021 Budget Address
SEE: 2021 Legislative Plan

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has joined the investigation into the fire at Playland's Castaway Cove on the Ocean City, NJ, boardwalk last weekend. The ATF is involved due to scope of the fire and estimated loss. It started around 7:40 a.m. on Saturday, 1/30. The four-alarm blaze destroyed the Playland's Castaway Cove arcade and offices, Hamburger Construction Company restaurant, and Dairy Queen. The owner's are vowing to rebuild. They are asking for any recent photos from inside the building. They will help in the investigation.

SEE ALSO: Playland's Castaway Cove Fire, Ocean City

Villanova University is warning students of a spike in new positive coronavirus COVID-19 cases since the spring semester started on January 25. Campus officials said in a letter that over 180 students have tested positive in the first week. A letter sent to students on Tuesday, 2/2, said, "We have had three consecutive days of 60 or more positive COVID-19 cases on campus, which is very concerning. We need to alter our course immediately to ensure that we will not need to disrupt the semester... One week into the spring semester we have more than 50% of the total number of positive cases we had in the entire fall semester. These numbers are not sustainable," the letter said. Contact tracing has shown the cases have come from social activities and small gathering. Students are advised to limit their interaction to a very small number of people, wear a mask at all times, and practice physical distancing.

"We are at a critical moment, quite early in the semester. Every day matters. We need every single person to do their part to stop the spread of the virus within our community. Each of us needs to live the commitment to Community First and COVID-19 prevention measures so that we can remain on campus this semester," wrote Vice President for Student Life Rev. John Stack.

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