Caltagirone bill to raise funding for pediatric cancer research clears committee

HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – Funding for pediatric cancer research in Pennsylvania would receive a major boost under legislation sponsored by state Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks, and approved by the House Finance Committee today.  

The legislation, H.B. 1804, would establish a check-off box on Pennsylvania's state income tax form where a taxpayer could voluntarily contribute $5 or more for pediatric cancer research within the commonwealth.

Funding raised under the legislation would be distributed to the four eligible institutions in Pennsylvania that conduct research relative to pediatric cancer: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center; Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Abramson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania; and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Caltagirone noted that pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children between ages 1 and 14 and the average age of death for a child with cancer is 8. Additionally, it is estimated that seven children die each day from cancer.

"I am confident that the citizens of our commonwealth will step up and help fund a cure when given the opportunity to do so via their tax returns," Caltagirone said. "I am delighted that my colleagues on the House Finance Committee have joined me in my efforts to have Pennsylvania become the state that cures pediatric cancer, and I am eager to see my bill before the full House for a vote very soon."

Caltagirone also has introduced legislation, H.B. 1865, that would offer tax credits to businesses that commit funding for pediatric cancer research. Specifically, the bill would allocate $10 million in tax credits per year over the next 10 years to Pennsylvania businesses, similar to the existing Educational Improvement Tax Credit program which offers tax credits to businesses that contribute to scholarship organizations.

"We've seen this system work. Let's give it a chance to work with pediatric cancer research too," Caltagirone said. "Over the next 10 years we could have the chance to allocate $100 million to fight pediatric cancer. That's not penny change.

"I've been to Hershey's hospital. I've talked to doctors. I've seen the researchers at work and what is needed most is more funding for research. We in the legislature have the opportunity to provide researchers this funding. We must take this opportunity on behalf of the thousands of children and families who are waiting for a cure."

In addition, Caltagirone has introduced a bill, H.B. 746, which would establish a Pediatric Cancer Research registration license plate that would be made available to be purchased for $50 through the state Department of Transportation.