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Category Archives: News

Workforce development news from Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

Pa. lawmakers react to Trump’s State of the Union address

From pennlive.com

Pennsylvania’s senators and members of the House delegation offered their reactions to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Following are excerpts from statements issued by the lawmakers.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey

“The President should have pledged tonight ‘no more shutdowns’ and committed to taking additional steps to help the 820,000 federal employees recover from the adverse impact of his government shutdown. He also missed an opportunity to speak to America’s middle class families who are struggling to make ends meet. He could have committed to a substantial tax cut for those families. He could have talked to working parents about a comprehensive agenda for their children – investing in education, safeguarding their healthcare, rebuilding their schools and protecting them from violence.”

A Scranton Democrat, Casey is Pennsylvania’s senior senator and just began his third term.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey

“President Trump also made a reasonable case for enhancing security at our southern border. The obvious, necessary solution to our budget impasse is a compromise that improves border security – including physical barriers where requested by Customs and Border Protection – and delivers on some Democrat priorities, too. I hope Speaker Pelosi will come to the table and finally negotiate in good faith.

“On trade, I continue to believe that the administration is taking us down the wrong path. Tariffs on products imported into the United States are taxes, paid by American consumers, that harm American families and workers.”

A Lehigh County Republican, Toomey is in the midst of his […]

Republican reactions to Wolf’s budget proposal run the gamut

From triblive.com

Republican lawmakers’ reactions on Tuesday to Gov. Tom Wolf’s $34.1 billion 2019-20 budget proposal varied from cautious optimism to accusations of fiscal recklessness.

“I thought the governor’s budget address had a positive message and I thought his emphasis on workforce development was significant and a goal that we all have in common,” said State Rep. Lori Mizgorski, R-Allegheny. “I do have concerns with some of his proposals, but I am eager and optimistic to work with my colleagues to build a consensus on a balanced budget.”

In his budget address to a joint session of the Republican-controlled Legislature, Wolf said the most significant element of the $34.1 billion budget plan, his first since winning a second term, is its efforts to help Pennsylvanians compete in a changing economy by bolstering skills and education.

Including nearly $500 million in supplemental cash for the current fiscal year, Wolf is seeking authorization for another $1.9 billion in new spending, a nearly 6 percent increase.

State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-Centre/Clinton, did not believe that was the way to go.

“Rather than offering solutions that lead to the draining of Harrisburg’s swamp or making Pennsylvania great again, today America’s most liberal governor unfortunately focused on continuing his irresponsible spending and fiscally reckless borrowing against future generations,” Borowicz said.

The extra spending would largely go toward public schools, prisons, pension obligations, health care for the poor, mental health services and social services for children, the elderly and disabled. The administration said the plan carries a […]

Gov. Wolf’s 2019-20 budget plan: Winners and losers

From pennlive.com

Gov. Tom Wolf introduced his 2019-20 state budget in a joint address before the General Assembly today.

Here are the winners and losers in the $34 billion plan. Follow the links for more details in specific areas, such as schools, business and state police.

Schools: Public schools see a big boost in aid under Wolf’s budget. There’s also a healthy increase for special education programs.

Colleges: The State System of Higher Education sees a slight uptick, but funding is flat for Penn State and the other “state-related” universities. On the upside, Wolf calls for more money for a grant program to help families pay for college.

State police: The governor wants to boost funding for state troopers. But Wolf is calling for a fee on towns that rely on state police.

Taxes: There’s no increase in the state’s sales tax or income tax in the governor’s plan.

Health care: Many health-related programs would get a slight boost in state aid. The plan offers more for long-term living services, programs to serve those with disabilities and efforts to aid those struggling with substance abuse.

Business: Companies are likely to cheer initiatives to bolster the state’s workforce and help workers prepare for jobs. But business leaders have already come out against Wolf’s plan to raise the minimum wage.

Environment: Programs designed to protect the environment will be asked to rely on money that may not materialize.

State workforce: There are no layoffs of any state workers in the […]

Governor Wolf announces plans to “Restore PA”

From pahomepage.com

The governor stopped by the Luzerne County Emergency Management building to meet with local officials. The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick was there..

Surrounded by state, county and local leaders at the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency, Governor Tom Wolf called for action on a severance tax he says is long overdue.

  “If you did it that would generate about $300 million dollars a year. If you monetize it.  That means bond it. You can turn that into $4.5 billion dollars.”

The money wouldn’t come directly from taxpayers – rather those in the coal, oil and natural gas industries. It’s money Wolf says can be used to reduce the threat of flooding.  Something the folks in this room know all too well. Many of their communities have been devastated by flooding time and time again.

  “‘Restore Pennsylvania’ would provide funding for flood prevention and not just going out to say you’ve been devastated by this, you have problems, but how do we mitigate this? How do we prevent this flooding from happening?” The Governor Asked.

 The plan would also create a financial trust fund for those hurt by flooding, but don’t qualify for federal disaster assistance. But the Governor knows convincing state lawmakers to approve the tax. Will be a hurdle he has not been able to jump. In each of the last two years, the Republican-controlled legislatures have rejected the idea of a severance tax, saying it will hurt natural resource development in the commonwealth.

West Pittston has been hard hit in recent years by flooding. It’s Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz says something […]

Wolf seeks $4.5B capital program paid by Marcellus Shale tax

From pennlive.com

Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will ask Pennsylvania lawmakers to approve a severance tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production to finance a multibillion-dollar capital plan for a wide range of projects, from controlling floodwaters to fighting blight.

Wolf, a Democrat, is kicking off his second term by floating a Marcellus Shale tax for a fifth straight year.

This time, he is packaging it with a proposal to use the money to pay down at least $4.5 billion in bonds for projects that might entice lawmakers in the nation’s No. 2 natural-gas producing state.

The projects would span rural areas and downtowns, and tie together a range of perceived needs, such as economic development and environmental improvements.

In a news conference in his Capitol offices, Wolf said he envisioned awarding the money over four years — although spending it might take longer — and paying it down over 20 years, or less. The administration had no immediate estimates of how much, with interest, the borrowing might cost.

Approval will be up to the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has thus far rejected Wolf’s overtures for a natural gas tax.

Wolf’s severance tax proposal is based on volume, and floats with the price of natural gas. It would take effect next year, and apply to wells that are covered by the impact fee.\

Read more.

Gov. Wolf again pitches plan for taxing Marcellus gas drillers

From postgazette.com

Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday announced plans to once again seek a severance tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, promising to use the money for disaster recovery, infrastructure and the expansion of broadband internet, among other projects.

The Democratic governor plans to approach state lawmakers with a proposal to borrow $4.5 billion over four years by selling bonds. The money would be paid back over 20 years using revenue from a severance tax, which would vary depending on the price of gas and the amount of it extracted.

“It is far past time that Pennsylvanians stop allowing our commonwealth to be the only state losing out on the opportunity to reinvest in our communities,” Mr. Wolf said. “And as long as that is allowed to continue, my vision of a restored Pennsylvania that is ready to compete in the 21st century economy will never become reality.”

The proposal drew a swift backlash from key Republican legislative leaders, who have successfully blocked past efforts to impose a severance tax. Hours after the governor unveiled his plan, GOP leaders who control the calendar in the House issued a statement saying it was riddled with bad economic ideas.

“While improving Pennsylvania’s aging infrastructure is a shared goal, it cannot come at the expense of the Commonwealth’s economy and taxpayers,” the Republican leaders wrote.

“Unfortunately, the governor has not included the General Assembly in the development of this proposal. If he had, he would know that there are not enough votes to enact a new energy tax, borrow billions of dollars and spend […]

Gov. Wolf: Raising Minimum Wage Will Save Taxpayers Millions In Public Assistance Money

From pittsburgh.cbslocal.com

Pennsylvania should raise the state’s minimum wage, says Governor Tom Wolf.

“When we give people a living wage for their work, it will lift them out of poverty, and as people earn more they can work their way off public assistance,” Wolf told a press conference in Harrisburg on Wednesday.

Wolf asked the state legislature to raise the state’s minimum wage stuck at $7.25 for a decade to $12.00 an hour with a slow increase up to $15.00 an hour by 2025.

The governor says raising the minimum wage will save taxpayers millions in public assistance money.

“If people earn a fair wage, on the other hand, people will need less public assistance, less taxpayer assistance.”

“And that’s going to save taxpayers just in the first six months $36 million — the next two years, $119 million.”

Wolf also said all the states surrounding Pennsylvania are paying higher minimum wages, attracting workers from this state.

While this state’s wage has not changed, Ohio is $8.55 an hour, West Virginia is $8.75 an hour, New Jersey is $8.85 an hour, Delaware is $9.25 an hour, Maryland is $10.10 an hour, and New York’s current minimum wage of $11.10 an hour.

Not everyone agrees the minimum wage should be raised.

Small business organizations, for example, say that small businesses will have to fire some employees in order to pay the other employees higher wages.

In the end, this will come down to the beliefs of Republicans who control the General Assembly.

“To almost double the minimum wage this year is not a good idea,” says Lenny McAllister, the […]

Republican PA senator retires, leaving another opening in chamber

From philly.com

Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Don White announced on Tuesday that he will retire at the end of February, leaving a third vacancy in a chamber where the GOP majority recently shrank.

White, 69, of Indiana County, has served in the Senate since 2001, most recently holding leadership roles on the Banking & Insurance and Law & Justice Committees.

A member of the National Rifle Association, he has, among other issues, pushed for legislation that would allow school districts to create their own policies on whether some employees should be allowed to carry guns on school grounds.

The senator said on the floor Tuesday afternoon that he has been “back and forth” on whether to retire for the “better part of a year.” His seat was set to come up for election again in 2020.

“When I came here, I was 50 years old, and I felt like I was 30,” he said, adding later: “But now, I’m 69 and I feel like I’m 89.”

White’s district includes parts of Armstrong, Butler, Indiana, and Westmoreland Counties. Data from the Pennsylvania Department of State show that Republicans have a roughly 25,000 lead in voter registration over Democrats in the district.

White’s resignation will leave three seats open in the chamber — leaving Republicans with 26 seats, and Democrats with 21. Democrats gained five seats in the Senate after a strong showing in the Philadelphia suburbs in the November election.

Earlier this month, Sen. Richard Alloway, a Republican from Franklin County, announced plans to retire effective Feb. 28.

One other seat […]

Having lost fire to do the job, Richard Alloway announces retirement from Pa. Senate

From the Chambersburg Public Opinion

Sen. Richard Alloway II announced Friday that he will retire effective Feb. 28 and leave the state Senate midway through his third term. Alloway, a Republican, has represented the 33rd Senatorial District for 10 years. The district includes all of Adams County, most of Franklin County, and parts of Cumberland and York counties. Alloway said he’s lost the fire needed to do the job right, the Associated Press reported. He will look into going into private practice as a lawyer or a lobbyist. In his retirement announcement, Alloway said: “It has been an honor and a privilege to hold this position and to be the voice for local communities in Harrisburg for the past decade in the Senate. I am extremely grateful for the trust that has been placed in me by community residents, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank all of my constituents for giving me that amazing opportunity and for helping me to be a better elected official.” First elected in 2008, Alloway had no problem keeping his seat through two re-election cycles. He first won the seat in the majority-Republican district following a slim win – 333 votes, under 2 percent of all votes cast – over his GOP challenger in the 2008 primary. Alloway is a member of the Senate Republican leadership team, serving as the caucus secretary since 2014. He was responsible for overseeing and reviewing all executive nominations submitted to the Senate for confirmation. He previously served as Senate Majority Caucus Administrator and […]

Sen. Casey ends consideration of a presidential run in 2020

From the Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is ending any consideration of joining a potentially crowded Democratic field running for president in 2020.

Casey’s statement Friday comes a couple months after he dropped hints that he was considering a run, fresh off easily winning a third term in the Senate.

The mild-mannered 58-year-old son of the late governor had said he was concerned about a Democratic nominee winning Pennsylvania. The state was crucial to President Donald Trump’s capturing the White House.

But now Casey’s saying he has “no doubt” that the Democratic Party will nominate a candidate who can win Pennsylvania and the presidency.

PA Workforce Development Association