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Category Archives: News

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

Deadline looms on U.S. bill that could affect thousands of low-income Pa. residents


Time is running out for Congress to pass a new farm bill before both chambers break for the year. In Pennsylvania – and around the country – that means hundreds of thousands of low-income residents are still waiting to see if their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP — benefits will be subject to stricter work requirements.

The House version of the bill makes it mandatory for adults between 18 and 59 to have a part-time job or participate in a workforce training program at least 20 hours a week to remain eligible for food stamps.

Recipients would have one month to become compliant, and missing the mark for one week could result in a loss of benefits, typically $150 to $185 a month for an individual.

“That’s a pretty tight timeframe if you lose a job to get another job, or even to complete the documentation and for the state to verify your participation in work,” said Elaine Waxman, senior policy fellow with the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

Roughly 1.8 million Pennsylvanians receive SNAP benefits.

Bucks County resident Lisa Raditz is one of them. For six years, the 54-year-old has relied on SNAP and food pantries for meals. She has a part-time job assembling makeup products, but her nighttime shifts are not reliable.

Some weeks, Raditz gets 25 hours; others weeks, not as many. Sometimes far less time if there’s a shutdown on a particular day.

“You have to call at 3 p.m. every day to find out if you’re working or not,” she said.

Raditz also cares for a […]

Susan Wild claims victory in special election to complete Dent’s term


With all ballots counted, U.S. Rep.-elect Susan Wild claimed victory Thursday in the special election for Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District.

Wild on Election Day, Nov. 6, won the new 7th Congressional District by nearly 10 percentage points, according to unofficial results.

But in addition to the 7th District race, the Democrat also went up against Republican Marty Nothstein and Libertarian Tim Silfies in the special election to finish out the unexpired term of former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent through year’s end. Dent, a Republican, retired seven months ago after previously announcing he would not seek re-election.

The initial count in PA-15 had Nothstein up by 58 votes, just two-hundredths of 1 percentage point.

With all PA-15 provisional, military and overseas civilian ballots counted, unofficial figures from the Pennsylvania Department of State on Thursday showed Wild ahead by 759 votes, or 0.28 of a percentage point, over Nothstein.

Wild’s campaign issued a news release Thursday afternoon saying she had been “notified of her victory.”

“I’m honored that voters in Pennsylvania’s 15th District have chosen for me to be their Congresswoman and finish out the term of former Congressman Charlie Dent,” Wild stated. “I’m grateful for our county election officials who have been diligent and efficient to ensure that every vote is counted.

Read more.

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia offered more than $5B in tax incentives for Amazon HQ2


For the past year, Pennsylvania state and local officials have touted the strength of the commonwealth’s bid for the much-anticipated Amazon HQ2 – a second headquarters for the dominant online retailer.

Now that Amazon has split its HQ2 plans between New York and Virginia, the details of Pennsylvania’s failed bid efforts are starting to emerge, leading some observers to breathe a sigh of relief that the expensive incentives the state was willing to provide will not be implemented, while others lamented the missed opportunity to host the tech behemoth.

According to a pair of letters released by the governor’s office, the state-level incentives for Amazon included $4.5 billion “through a new performance-based grant program” and another $100 million for transportation improvements.

“The concept of this new incentive program is straightforward,” wrote Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. “A grant award will be made available on an annual basis for up to 25 years, and will be based on the amount of personal income tax collected annually from Amazon employees.”

Davin noted that Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders supported the proposal, and indeed, the second letter was signed by Wolf, House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, all in support of the state’s proposal.

“We support the creation of a new performance-based program which would be formulated on revenue collected from Personal Income Tax and for a period of up to 25 years,” the joint letter from Wolf, Scarnati and Turzai to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos read. “This new program would be […]

Could Gov. Wolf, Sen. Casey be V.P. picks in 2020?


With the midterms (mostly) over, Clout turns to the 2020 presidential election, just 718 short days from today. And who better to light that spark than former Vice President Joe Biden?

The Delaware Democrat headlined a fundraiser in Philadelphia Tuesday for U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, where he preached about shared American values while knocking President Trump as lacking them. Biden’s trademark scattershot rhetorical style mentioned pre-World War II anti-Semitism, a recent New York Times column about civility, and cancer rates in China, among other topics.

It was a private affair. So, naturally, we had spies everywhere.

The crowd, thick with Democratic ward leaders, local politicians, and labor officials in a riverfront union hall, cheered when Brady introduced Biden by asking, “Do you think he should run?”

Biden denounced Trump for saying there “were very fine people on both sides” of a deadly 2017 clash between neo-Nazis and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Va.

“No president, Democrat or Republican, has ever said that since the Civil War,” Biden said.

Still, Biden cautioned that Republicans “are not our enemies” outside of rough-and-tumble campaigns.

Biden, who was born in Scranton, came back to Northeast Pennsylvania this year to stump for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, just elected to a third term. He also campaigned for Gov. Wolf.

Read more.

Convenience delivery service to expand in Pennsylvania, add 500 jobs


Online convenience store and home delivery service GoPuff will bring over 500 new jobs to Pennsylvania over the next three years, the company and Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday.​​​​​​

GoPuff plans to build a new headquarters in Philadelphia and launch 10 new warehouse operations Allegheny, Chester, Dauphin, Lackawanna, and Philadelphia counties.

Six existing warehouse operations will be expanded.

Wolf’s office said the new headquarters will provide over 150 new, full-time jobs, while the new and expanded warehouses will create about 400 jobs.

The company currently has about 125 employees at its Philadelphia headquarters.

GoPuff offers home delivery of snacks, drinks, alcohol, and thousands of other items from its warehouses.

The company currently operates in 48 markets across 21 states and the District of Columbia, and it plans to expand to about 60 locations by the end of the year.


Pittsburgh, Philly lose out on Amazon HQ2, but win in other ways


At stake were 50,000 high-paying 21st Century jobs, so no wonder 20 top cities, including Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, did all they could over the past year to woo Amazon’s HQ2 project.

The exact details of those highly secretive, incentive-laden bids remain under wraps. But David Black, head of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC — and who competed in the initial round on behalf of central Pa. — said whatever the cities did was well worth it.

“It’s got to be considerable staff time they put in,” Black said of the economic development entities of both Pittsburgh and Philly. “But this was a game-changer for communities. These are the 21st Century jobs. This wasn’t an Amazon fulfillment center. These were the high-paying jobs.”

And having gone through the year-long Amazon HQ2 process as two of 20 big city finalists, both Pittsburgh and Philly are the better for it, Black said.

“Every experience you go through makes you a little better for the next one,” he said. “There is justification your staff got better and the region is better positioned for the next one.”

But as for those prized, high-end Amazon HQ jobs, they will be divided among the two HQ2 winners — northern Virginia and Queens, NY. Each winning city should get about a 25,000 job share, as Amazon splits its 50,000-position HQ2 among them.

Read more.

School advocates hope Wolf seeks big funding boost

From the Philadelphia Tribune

Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf won a second term by defeating Republican challenger Scott Wagner.

A Wagner victory would have paved the way for more school choice-friendly policies, such as education savings accounts — which would divert some existing public school dollars to help parents pay for private school tuition.

Wolf’s victory makes such proposals highly unlikely to come to fruition over the next four years.

In his first term, Wolf’s focus was on investing more money into public education, but on the campaign trail this year he was tight-lipped about his specific plans moving forward.

So the big questions now are: How much of a boost will he seek? And how will he pay for it?

Advocates for a large boost in school spending say Wolf’s 17-point win over Wagner shows evidence of a mandate for a large ask.

“He has to create a narrative and a context for a ‘yes’ vote for revenues. He can do it now. I think this election gives him the ability to do that,” said Donna Cooper, executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth and a former aide to Gov. Ed Rendell.

PCCY is a member of the Campaign for Fair Education funding, a coalition that formed in 2014 to push for annual $400 million boosts to state education funding.

Read more.

Democrats, 4 of them women, win House seats in Pennsylvania

From the York Dispatch

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania elected a state record of four women to the U.S. House on Tuesday as Democrats smashed the state’s all-male congressional delegation, picked up three seats in the chamber and ousted a three-term Republican.

Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Susan Wild and Chrissy Houlahan stand to become the first women from Pennsylvania to serve full terms in Congress since 2014, while newly minted U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb beat three-term Republican U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus in the nation’s only race pitting two incumbent representatives against each other.

The Democrats’ victories came as the party works to bring Pennsylvania’s Republican-heavy congressional delegation back into balance in Tuesday’s favorable mid-term election climate. Aiding Democrats in the topsy-turvy year was a backlash against President Donald Trump, the most open seats in decades and new court-ordered district boundaries that made seats more competitive.

Meanwhile, Republican Reps. Scott Perry and Brian Fitzpatrick were in re-election battles that were too close to call late Tuesday. Democrat George Scott was challenging Perry in the conservative central Pennsylvania district while Democrat Scott Wallace was challenging Fitzpatrick in a swing district in Philadelphia’s suburbs.

Pennsylvania has never sent more than two women to Congress at any one time, according to information from Chatham University.

“Tonight we’ve changed the face of Congress,” Dean told supporters, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. “Tonight we’re sending women to Washington!”

Lamb, a former Marine and federal prosecutor who won a special election in March to an open seat in suburban Pittsburgh, scored another victory […]

Democrats see General Election gains in PA, but the GOP maintains solid majorities in General Assembly chambers


Whether there was a “blue wave” can be debated, but Tuesday’s General Election in Pennsylvania saw the state’s Democrats make some important inroads for the party.

With 99.32 percent of precincts statewide reporting (as of approximately 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 7), unofficial results have Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, as expected, easily securing a second four-year term (John Fetterman will be his new Lieutenant Governor when the two are sworn into office in January), and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey winning another six-year term.

It was likely more the Pennsylvania Supreme Court-drawn congressional map, and less a “blue wave,” for the 2018 election cycle that produced what proponents of a new map had hoped – more Democratic-held seats: The current 13-5 split in favor of Republicans looks to become 9-9 when the new Congress is sworn into office in January.

That delegation will also see its first female members – yes, that’s plural – in years with Democratic state Rep. Madeleine Dean winning the new 4th Congressional District, Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon winning the new 5th District, Democrat Christina Houlahan winning the new 6th District and Democrat Susan Wild winning the new 7th District.

There will also be several changes coming in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, though unlike at the national level, Democrats were unable to take the majority in either the state House of Representatives or the state Senate.

However, they did trim the Republican majorities in each of the chambers.

In the Senate, where Republicans were defending 18 of 25 seats up for election this year, unofficial results show Democrats […]

Divided results: Democrats gain control of U.S. House — but GOP expands Senate majority

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Democrats gained control of the U.S. House on Tuesday night, winning a foothold on power in an election that served as a national referendum on President Trump and a test of the support that powered him to the White House.

But it wasn’t the definitive wave that some had hoped for. Even as Democrats looked to add at least two dozen House seats, Republicans were on track to expand their majority in the Senate. In the end, one of the most emotionally charged midterm elections in years again showed a country deeply divided by demographics and geography.

In the House, unofficial returns showed suburban voters in educated, affluent areas delivering a sharp rebuke to Trump and the GOP — including in districts outside Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington. Republican Senate candidates ran strong in more conservative, rural states such as North Dakota, Indiana, and Tennessee.

The results continued a realignment that began before Trump, but has accelerated under his tumultuous presidency.

Read more.

PA Workforce Development Association