HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Brian Sims, along with members of the Philadelphia House and Senate delegations, have released the following statement on the impending closure of Hahnemann University Hospital: “The Philadelphia House and Senate delegations have come together to request emergency funding from Governor Wolf to address the dire situation at Hahnemann University Hospital. HUH is a vital health care provider for Philadelphians and the surrounding communities, and members of the legislature are committed to working with stakeholders to find a solution to ensure that HUH remains a fully functioning hospital. “In order to understand the means necessary to prevent closure, we have requested that the owners of HUH, American Academic Health System, submit to an audit and agree to a state-appointed independent monitor to oversee operations and financial management. "The closure would immediately impact the Philadelphia region through the loss of good paying jobs and an economic driver in the city, as well as throughout the commonwealth. We will do everything in our power to work with state, local and institutional partners to prevent the loss of this historic institution.” The Philadelphia legislators sent a letter to the governor Tuesday, asking for his assistance in keeping Hahnemann University Hospital from closing. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood is calling on President Donald Trump, Congress, and the U.S. Treasury to stop stalling and act now to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. “More than four years ago, the American people were asked who they wanted to see on the $20 bill,” Youngblood said. “Overwhelmingly, they chose American heroine Harriet Tubman. What are we waiting for? Now is the time to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.” The current administration has delayed the process to put Tubman on the $20 currency, apparently for no good reason, according to Youngblood. Her H.R. 433 would urge U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with Trump and Congress to continue with the original plan to place Tubman on the redesigned $20 bill by 2020. In June 2015, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced a redesign of the $10 bill, and called on the American people to nominate someone worthy of the honor of being placed on that currency. In an open letter Lew penned less than a year later , he credited a powerful response from more than one million Americans for his decision to direct the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to accelerate plans for the redesign of not just the $10 bill, but also the $5 and $20 bills. It was then that Lew announced Tubman would be placed on the $20 bill. He said final concepts for those redesigns would be unveiled in 2020, to coincide with the 100 th anniversary of the passage of the 19 th Read more
COATESVILLE, June 26 – State Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester, attended the ribbon-cutting of a Coatesville auto store on Saturday, June 22. America’s Finest Automotive Concepts, LLC is open for business on East Lincoln Highway. Store owner Jose Colón is a Coatesville native and has worked in the automotive industry for the last nine years. “I will always support my constituents for chasing their dreams and contributing to our community,” Williams said. “Local businesses are an asset to our community and I’m proud to support my constituents on their entrepreneurial endeavors. I was honored to attend this ceremonial ribbon-cutting and to be a part of Mr. Colón’s special day. I wish him nothing but the best.” ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, issued the following statement about today’s passage of H.B. 790 , the 2019-20 budget. “With every budget we work to find a compromise in order to best serve Pennsylvanians,” Caltagirone said. “Although I am extremely disappointed in not having any business tax credits or additional means of funding in place for pediatric cancer centers, this budget does a lot of good. My bill would have allocated $10 million in tax credits to businesses per year for the next 10 years to ensure that our children do not have to suffer from this disease as they have in the past. Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States between 1 and 14 years old, and not including any way to address this issue for our most vulnerable children is quite concerning. “The silver lining to this budget is our investments in our education and schools. Governor Mifflin School District will receive $6.6 million next year, a 3.5% increase, while Reading School District will see a 3.8% increase up to $145 million for basic education funding. Special education funding will also increase to approximately $2.3 million for Governor Mifflin, a 6.1% increase and Reading will have an increase of 9.9% at $13 million. I’m looking forward to seeing what our school districts can do with these additional resources and delighted that they get the chance. “Ultimately, Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, cast a “yes” vote for House Bill 790, the General Appropriations bill, saying that while it’s not perfect, the bill does provide increased support for educational services and other amenities: “This bill certainly doesn’t achieve what we want it to do, but it does move Pennsylvania forward in some significant ways,” DeLuca said. “Most importantly, in my view, is the increased support for educational progress at all levels: Pre-K and early childhood education; elementary and secondary basic education; special education; career and technical education; job training; a 2% increase for public universities and community colleges; more funds to support students through PHEAA; school security funding; and library funding, so that our children and adults know what is going on now as well as what has occurred in the past. “As you’ve heard others say, it does not raise taxes and puts a substantial amount in the rainy-day fund, which helps protect us when things get tough – just like a home budget. It also reduces the waiting list for services to people with intellectual disabilities and families seeking help with affordable childcare. “I support this budget for the good things it does. There are many more things we all need to work on, including an increase to the minimum wage. I was hopeful this budget would include a minimum wage increase, but Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., issued the following statement regarding House passage of the state budget bill: “I voted no on House Bill 790 because it doesn’t put all people first. For years, we have seen states that surround Pennsylvania increase the minimum wage – some at least twice -- since the last time it was increased here. It hasn’t changed in more than a decade, yet people continue to struggle to make ends meet. “The people of Philadelphia deserve a living wage. The city has a poverty rate of 26%. If a person is making $7.25 an hour, which is a shame in the first place, their annual income is only $14,616 a year, and that’s before taxes! Our citizens should not work hard for 40 hours or more every week and still live below the poverty line. Pennsylvania is long-overdue to raise the minimum wage, yet this budget ignores that. “This budget bill also forgets our most vulnerable citizens by eliminating the General Assistance fund. This money would have helped those Pennsylvanians who just need a little bit of help. It could have been for things that many of us take for granted: buying toiletries, diapers for babies, getting the bus to go to a doctor’s appointment. “The $200 a month provided by the General Assistance fund would help victims of domestic abuse, residents with disabilities, our veterans, and people who are struggling with opioid addiction. It’s a Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today issued the following statement regarding the passage of H.B. 790 , the state’s general appropriations bill: “As a fiscally conservative Democrat, I supported this no-tax increase budget that gets back to the basics by putting more money into education,” Burns said. “It’s not just about spending more; it’s about spending smarter, so the dollars actually get into the classroom. Every child in every school deserves to feel safe and this budget increases funding for school safety. “While I would have liked to see the surplus go back to the taxpayers, this was a budget compromise I support.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski both cast “yes” votes for the budget bill today, saying they believed that, although not perfect, the bill (H.B. 790) would make sound investments in the commonwealth’s future. “Although the budget is not everything I wanted, I believe it would invest our resources wisely and would not increase the burden on taxpayers,” Harkins said. “I’m especially encouraged about the substantial increases for public education and pre-K resources – including increased funding for my school districts – and additional funding for nursing homes and home health care operations. “Finally, I’m pleased the new budget would make a sizeable increase to the Rainy Day Fund. Having served in lean years, I understand how important that will be for the commonwealth moving forward and how it will help with our bond rating over the long term.” Merski was likewise pleased about the budget’s emphasis on education and protecting the state’s vulnerable populations, though he has some concerns. “This budget would increase funding for every school district I represent,” Merski said. “It also would increase investments in Pre-K Counts to give our kids the best possible start, and in nursing facilities to help protect our seniors and most vulnerable citizens. Best of all, it would do all of this without raising taxes. “Of course, Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – Citing historic investments in education, job training and programs to help veterans and families in crisis, state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, cast a “yes” vote today for the state’s General Appropriations budget bill. The budget now moves a step closer to the governor’s desk well before the end of the fiscal year. “I voted for this bipartisan budget because it invests taxpayers’ dollars wisely without burdening residents with any new taxes. I’m especially pleased that we have secured funding to launch the new Military Family Education Program for our National Guard families, and we have increased support for the Red Cross to help families in crisis. “I’m encouraged that we were able to work together to secure sizeable investments in our children and young job seekers. The budget provides a monumental investment in our schools – including an additional $160 million for basic education, $50 million for special education, and $25 million for Pre-K Counts to give kids the best possible start in life and overcome barriers. We are also allotting $60 million for school safety grants to keep our students safe. “Likewise, the budget contains increased funding for career and job training and higher education. Investments of this kind in our next generation will yield many positive returns for Pennsylvania, our working families and our economy. “Finally, an estimated $300 Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – Saying that it holds the line on taxes while increasing education funding, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, cast a vote today in favor of the state budget bill, H.B. 790. “As with any budget, there is a give and take,” Matzie said. “This is especially true when the legislative majorities and the governor are of the opposite party. My ‘yes’ was based on several things. No new taxes or fees. More money for schools, colleges and job training programs. More money for libraries. More money to fight opioids. More money to support lowest wage healthcare workers. “Equally important, this budget is on time, which is imperative in order to avoid imposing difficulties on counties, municipalities, school districts and any other entity that relies on state funding. It’s not perfect, but it works and moves us forward.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, cast a vote in support of Pennsylvania’s budget bill, H.B. 790, saying that he believes the budget makes sound investments in the commonwealth’s future. “I’m encouraged that we passed a budget that is on time, does not raise taxes, and puts approximately $300 million in the Rainy Day Fund. Most importantly, I believe the budget makes strategic investments to move Pennsylvania forward by investing in our children and job seekers, while also ensuring that our seniors and the most vulnerable among us are protected. “I’m especially pleased that the new budget adds $160 million for basic education funding for our school children; a $50 million increase in special education funding; a $25 million increase for early childhood education, a 2% increase for higher education; and a $10 million increased commitment for Career and Technical Education. “The budget also invests in one of our most important industries by providing resources to assist farmers with business development, disaster response and best management practices. “Any budget is a compromise, and although the bill is not perfect, I believe it spends our resources responsibly and accomplishes a lot of good on behalf of the commonwealth’s citizens.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, provided the following statement regarding his “no” vote on H.B. 790 today, the state’s General Appropriations bill: “While I am grateful for the funds devoted to education, including basic, special and pre-k education, it doesn’t go far enough to address the financial challenges school districts in my region are facing related to charter and cyber charter schools. “Instead of placing nearly $300 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, more of those funds should have been placed into education. We need to do more to halt property tax increases, and this bill does nothing to address that. “I also have concerns about the state’s school safety grant program, as contained in the budget bill. Last year, the schools in my district did not receive any funds, and out of the $45 million that is earmarked for the program this year, I am still not getting a clear answer as to whether they will this year. “This bill also contains significant transportation funding cuts, to the tune of $366 million, despite the fact that we have nearly 3,000 structurally deficient bridges across our state. That figure also includes $111 million in cuts to mass transit, which will hurt many of my residents who rely on reliable transportation.” “We can and should do better for the people of Pennsylvania.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, cast a “yes” vote for the budget bill today, praising the bill’s strong investments in education and job training but saying he was disappointed that it misses opportunities for realizing millions in savings by failing to address workers’ wages and closing loopholes for special interests. “To be clear, there is a lot of good in this budget bill – particularly with regard to its substantial investment in education and the fact that it does not impose any new taxes on residents,” Bizzarro said. “At the same time, I’m disappointed that the budget contains some important missed opportunities. “An essential part of our obligation when it comes to passing a budget is not just passing the budget on time but also passing a budget that saves money for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers. By failing to include a modest increase in the minimum wage that would help thousands of low-earning Pennsylvanians pull themselves off public assistance, we are missing out on savings of $100 million, according to a recent report by the Independent Fiscal Office. It’s not hard to image how the commonwealth could use those dollars. “That said, I’m not prepared to let the perfect stand in the way of the good. I voted for this budget because I believe that on balance, it contains a number of provisions that will benefit Pennsylvanians and working families. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, released the following statement on why he voted in opposition of H.B. 790, the General Appropriations bill, which passed the House Tuesday: “The General Appropriations bill that passed the House today has some positives but still lacks the important ingredients needed to ensure a balanced budget for all Pennsylvanians. In short, I’m happy to see that the budget includes an increase in education spending; a continued investment in Pre-K programs; and an investment in our libraries. “However, the failure to raise the minimum wage coupled with the elimination of the General Assistance program prompted my opposition to this bill. Raising the minimum wage is critical to lift working-class families out of poverty. Unfortunately, House Bill 790 does not make critical investments in working-class families. “Every state around Pennsylvania has raised its minimum wage at least twice since the last time the commonwealth did so – it’s been 10 years. The economical and consumer landscape in this state is changing and residents who rely on minimum wage salaries are unable to stay afloat, despite working 40 hours or more a week. I can’t support that. “In addition, the elimination of the General Assistance program further solidified my opposition to the General Appropriations bill because it’s a clear indication that the state is unwilling to make a small Read more
A few days ago, House Republicans voted to eliminate a state program that provides roughly $200 per month to Pennsylvania adults who are temporarily or permanently unable to work. This General Assistance program costs $50 million per year and helps more than 10,000 Pennsylvanians. While $200 a month may seem insignificant to some in the legislature, it serves as a financial lifeline to our commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents. Adults with temporary or permanent disabilities, those caring for a severely ill or disabled loved one, adults in full-time substance abuse rehabilitation programs, displaced domestic abuse survivors and people waiting for their social security benefits to kick in, these are the populations that benefit from receiving $200 a month. These cash grants increase quality of life and allow for “dignity purchases,” in other words, the everyday things that we take for granted. In fact, this $200 is spent on necessities such as transportation, housing and toiletries. It keeps a roof over peoples’ heads, the lights on, and food on the table. Many of my colleagues welcome a $200 per diem to live and work comfortably during their time in Harrisburg, a practice that I have personally chosen to reject. Simply put, there is an irony here that is difficult to ignore. Surely, if $200 is justifiable when considering the comforts and needs of legislators, $200 a month for our most vulnerable citizens is a no-brainer. Our local Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – A State College-based manufacturing company will benefit from a state grant program that connects manufacturing companies and research institutions designed to spur economic growth and innovation, state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, announced today. Conklin said Morgan Advanced Materials and Technology has established a partnership with Penn State University through the Manufacturing PA fellowship program. This program embeds the state’s best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students with area manufacturers. Once paired, the students begin working on research projects to develop new technologies and advance innovation. Through the Manufacturing PA program, Penn State University received $69,558 in state grants. “These partnerships foster lasting, productive relationships between our universities and the business community, positioning our state to be a leader in manufacturing,” Conklin said. “Students will receive valuable career experience, and companies – like Morgan Advanced Materials and Technology – will also benefit from the students’ research in innovation and technology.” The 26 approved projects help advance innovation in several sectors of manufacturing, including energy, consumer goods and advanced medical. A total of 11 universities partnered with local manufacturing companies to pair students with the projects. For more information, please visit Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – On behalf of the Allegheny County House Democratic Delegation, state Rep. Dan Miller, chairman, today released a statement following the announcement that UPMC and Highmark have entered into at 10-year contract that will extend facilities to Highmark-insured patients. Miller said the deal follows recent legal action pursued by Shapiro, an effort supported by many members of the delegation. “Our delegation has been at the forefront of this battle for years and we are very thankful to the efforts of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Governor Tom Wolf for helping to orchestra this deal, especially since the majority in Harrisburg has refused time and time again to step in on behalf of patients everywhere. “Highmark and UPMC are integral to the health and welfare of many in western Pennsylvania, and beyond. That’s why several of us added our name to the attorney general’s latest lawsuit. We need UPMC and Highmark to always remember how and why they were created, and how much we need access to their gifted staff and employees. “It is our hope that this deal will begin to heal the wounds caused by hostility and uncertainty and we thank the leadership of both Highmark and UPMC for coming to the table and for working with Shapiro and Wolf,” Miller said. “However, delegation members Dan Frankel and Tony DeLuca have authored 'any willing provider' bills that need to be considered by the House Read more
HARRISBURG, June 24 – State Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, expressed satisfaction that many health care consumers in Lawrence County will enjoy uninterrupted coverage thanks to a UPMC-Highmark deal that will provide Highmark customers access to all UPMC doctors and facilities for the next 10 years. “This agreement represents a huge victory to thousands of Pennsylvania’s health care consumers, who no longer have to live in fear that they are days away from losing access to their trusted, chosen doctors,” Sainato said. “I want to commend UPMC for stepping up to the plate and recognizing its responsibility as a charitable institution holding a special position of trust with the state’s consumers. I also want to applaud UPMC and Highmark for working together to prevent a rift that could have had lasting repercussions for millions of Pennsylvanians. “We have been working for a long time to encourage these two corporate giants to come together for the good of Pennsylvania’s patients. Thanks to their efforts – and the efforts of the attorney general in encouraging them to come to the table – we have a partnership that will provide Pennsylvanians ongoing access to the quality care they need and deserve. It’s a huge step for the residents of Lawrence County and health care consumers all over western Pennsylvania.” Sainato added that additional details have yet to be released and suggested residents Read more
HARRISBURG, June 24 – Combatting fraudulent pyramid schemes that target innocent consumers is the goal of a bill the House passed unanimously today, according to the bill’s author, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. House Bill 1534 would update and clarify the state’s existing anti-pyramid law by highlighting the difference between legitimate direct selling companies and fraudulent pyramid schemes. “Pennsylvania’s consumers need the best possible protection from fly-by-night operations that attempt to target innocent members of the public,” Matzie said. “To provide that protection, we need to ensure that outdated language in our anti-pyramid scheme law is brought up to date. “My bill would update the law and provide the necessary teeth to bolster law enforcement’s prosecution of bad actors. At the same time, it would provide much-needed clarity that would guide legitimate direct-selling companies as to what constitutes acceptable business practices. I’m encouraged that the House unanimously passed my bill, which is a great first step toward protecting the state’s consumers.” Matzie, the Democratic chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, noted that the new law would encourage companies to adopt two important consumer protections common in the direct-selling industry: an anti-inventory loading provision that would discourage companies from saddling individual direct sellers with Read more
HARRISBURG, June 24 – State Rep. Brandon Markosek, D-Allegheny, on Monday released a statement following the announcement that UPMC and Highmark have entered into a 10-year contract that will extend UPMC facilities to Highmark-insured patients: “It’s with great pleasure that I announce that UPMC and Highmark have come to an agreement that will finally put an end to their longstanding dispute. Residents who would have been affected by this – had the decree expired – can now rest easy knowing they have access to one-of-a-kind medical services, regardless of the insurance listed on their insurance cards. “I’d also like to thank state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Governor Tom Wolf for bringing both parties together so that a deal that would provide western Pennsylvanians with the heath care they deserve could be made. “While details regarding this contract will come with time, it’s my hope that this 10-year contract will eventually transition into a long-term contract so that residents never again have to undergo the anguish this dispute has put them through. “Most importantly, I want to remind residents that since the contract has yet to be formalized, please contact your health insurer before making any important health care decisions.” Read more
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