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Category Archives: News

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

Gov. Wolf again pitches plan for taxing Marcellus gas drillers


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


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


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.

Pennsylvania jobless rate stable as payrolls hit record high


Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate stayed the same in December, at close to a two-decade low, although payrolls still jumped to a new record high.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday that Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 4.2 percent last month.

The national rate is 3.9 percent.

A survey of households found Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force grew by 21,000. Employment rose by 16,000 to a new record of nearly 6.2 million, while unemployment also rose by 5,000 to 274,000.


A separate survey of employers showed seasonally adjusted non-farm payrolls rose by 13,200 in December. Education and health services and the leisure and hospitality sector grew by the biggest numbers. Manufacturing crept higher, as construction and the trade, transportation and utility sectors shrank.

Friday’s figures are preliminary and could change.

PHEAA finds its next CEO inside its Harrisburg headquarters


Once again, the state’s student financial aid agency conducted a national search for its next president and CEO and landed on someone already on its payroll. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency board of directors on Thursday named its interim CEO James Steeley to lead the 3,300-employee agency on a permanent basis. Steeley, 40, of Lewisberry, is a certified public accountant who worked in the banking industry before coming to work for PHEAA in 2015 as its chief financial officer. He has been serving as its acting CEO since July.

He succeeds James Preston who retired after 11 years in that position but had been serving as an executive vice president at PHEAA for four years prior to assuming that post. Steeley is the seventh person in the 56-year-old agency’s history to head this agency. He will be paid $330,000 a year, which is one of the highest paid positions in all of Pennsylvania’s state government. In that role, he will be charged with running the agency that is a loan servicer for the federal student loan program and administrator of the state grant and other state-funded student financial aid programs.

PHEAA is at a critical stage right now as it struggles to improve its financial position to resume its role in supplementing the state funding for the student grant program as it has done most years over the past decade. Steeley has played an instrumental role in assisting with a transformation that includes launching a new student loan program this spring. Steeley expressed his appreciation to […]

Tom Marino resigning from Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation for private-sector job


Tom Marino, a five-term Republican congressman who helped steer Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign in Pennsylvania, said Thursday that he is resigning just days into a new term. In a statement, Marino said his last day will be Jan. 23 and that he is taking a job in the private sector. Marino and his office did not respond to questions about the announcement Thursday. Marino easily won re-election in November in his heavily Republican district in northern Pennsylvania.

The 66-year-old former county and federal prosecutor was one of Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress. Trump nicknamed Marino and former Rep. Lou Barletta “thunder and lightning” when they co-chaired his campaign in Pennsylvania. Trump nominated Marino in 2017 to become the nation’s drug czar, but Marino withdrew his name from consideration after reports he played a key role in a law that weakened federal power to stop companies from distributing opioids. At the time, Marino defended his work on the law, which passed without opposition in the House and Senate and was signed by President Obama, and said it will help “facilitate a balanced solution” between access to medication and law enforcement’s efforts to prevent abuse.

Marino, who lives in Cogan Station, was a U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Pennsylvania under President George W. Bush and has survived multiple bouts of kidney cancer. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, must schedule a special election to fill Marino’s seat. Marino’s resignation is likely to set off a furious scramble to secure votes among the committee members of the state […]

New leader of Pa.’s public universities says they need change, fast: ‘It’s not a pretty picture’


The chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is calling for “fundamental transformation and redesign” of the system’s 14 public universities without delay.

In delivering his first State of the System address after being sworn in on Wednesday to lead the system of nearly 100,000 students, Chancellor Daniel Greenstein said the system should be organized around students’ needs and not institutions.

After taking a comprehensive look at the system and the challenges it faces, he said, “It’s not a pretty picture.”

Enrollment is down. Public investment in the system sits at the same level it was in 12 years ago. What is supposed to be the state’s most affordable four-year degree has gotten out of reach for most low- and middle-income families. And competition amongst higher education institutions in this state is intense.

So what does he intend to do about it?

Plenty – and fast.

His vision includes keeping all 14 universities open but having them be less about competing and more about collaborating. It’s one where “every student on every campus has access to the full breadth of academic programming at every other campus in the system,” he said.

The chancellor spoke at the system’s headquarters in Harrisburg in front of an audience of 120 higher education and business leaders and students as well as Gov. Tom Wolf and the founding chancellor of the system James McCormick. He outlined his framework for the direction he’d like to see the system move.

Read more.

Bayer to close Pittsburgh operations, affecting 600 workers


PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pharmaceutical giant Bayer Corporation says it plans to close its administrative offices in Pittsburgh, affecting about 600 workers.

They include workers in finance, accounting, legal and technology jobs.

In November, Bayer announced it was laying off 12,000 workers by the end of 2021, or 10 percent of its workforce.

Bayer says in a statement released Tuesday the closure will happen over a two-year period.

It says the company has “the utmost appreciation for the employees and their families affected by this decision.”

Robinson Township Manager Frank Piccolino tells the Tribune Review that the community is shocked, and officials “did not see this coming at all.”

For decades the Pittsburgh site served at the German company’s North American headquarters. It lost that status in 2012 when the base was moved to New Jersey.

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