Featured News

Roebuck: $110K in grants awarded to fund Clark Park project

Roebuck joins rally to demand funding to fix toxic schools in Pa.

(Dec 18, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 18 – State Rep. Jim Roebuck, D-Phila., stood with dozens of teachers, students and advocates at the state Capitol to call on the General Assembly to pass legislation that would help fix unhealthy and unsafe conditions in schools across the commonwealth. “Many of our schools, particularly in Philadelphia, have deplorable conditions that are creating hazardous learning environments for both students and teachers alike. Because of these conditions, many students are developing health issues, which could cause life-long problems,” Roebuck said. “It is unconscionable that these schools continue to fall in disarray to the point that they have to be shut down only to provide a temporary fix.” Roebuck, the Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, is a co-sponsor of H.B. 1636, which would establish a $125 million grant program within the Department of Education, known as the Public School Building Emergency Repair and Renovation Grant Program. It would be funded by the state General Fund. “We owe it to the children of the commonwealth. As elected officials, we are obligated to provide safe and healthy learning environments, not put a Band-Aid on a problem that will only get worse if drastic measures are not taken,” Roebuck said. Roebuck is a member of Fund our Facilities , a coalition of elected leaders, labor organizations and community groups in Read more


PLBC lauds accreditation for Cheyney University

(Nov 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 26 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus released the following statements after the announcement of Cheyney University receiving accreditation: “The retention of Cheyney University’s accreditation is not only welcoming news for the university, but also for African American students here in the commonwealth and across the country. The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus has historically worked with Cheyney University over the years and is committed to doing what we can to foster the education process and success of all people across the commonwealth. With this accreditation, Cheyney University will remain a viable educational resource to students now and for years to come. I’m proud of the work our legislative leaders have done to support the efforts of Cheyney University and thank the leadership of Cheyney’s President Aaron Walton along with Governor Tom Wolf, Senate Appropriation Chairman Vincent Hughes, House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, House Democratic Education Chairman Jim Roebuck,” said Rep. Stephen Kinsey, PLBC Chairman. “As a former chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, the PLBC and I were very involved in investigating and helping to form solutions to right the ship at Cheyney and I’m proud that that same passion has been continued by current PLBC Chairman Stephen Kinsey and his leadership team. Collectively, we’ve been working with leaders in state Read more


Roebuck: $110K in grants awarded to fund Clark Park project

(Nov 15, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 15 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., announced that $110,000 in state funding has been awarded to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia for sidewalk improvements in Clark Park. “These funds should help bring pedestrian safety improvements and make the area more accessible for everyone in the community,” Roebuck said. “I am pleased that this grant money was awarded so that more residents can take advantage of the outdoor spaces at Clark Park.” The funds will be used to replace the crumbling sidewalks around the perimeter of the park, including demolition of existing walkways and related engineering costs. The funding was awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority through the Multimodal Transportation Fund , which encourages economic development and ensures safe and reliable transportation is available to Pennsylvania residents. The CFA provides funding for projects focused on development, water quality, energy infrastructure and more. To learn more, residents may visit this website. Read more


Roebuck’s career readiness bill headed to Gov. Wolf for his signature

(Oct 01, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1 – State Rep. James R. Roebuck Jr., D-Phila., announced that legislation he authored to bolster career readiness among students by fostering relationships between school districts and industry partners, unanimously passed the full House and is ready to be signed into law. Roebuck, who is Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said his legislation, H.B. 395, would establish occupational advisory committees to implement new programs and ensure that industry standards are properly integrated into instructional programming. “Unfortunately, the relationships between local advisory councils and business partners vary greatly across the state, which causes gaps in the level of career preparedness among our students,” Roebuck said. “I am pleased that my legislation received bipartisan support in allowing all students across our commonwealth to be provided the necessary skills and education to flourish in their careers.” This legislation is a part of a bipartisan Career and Technical Education legislative package, with the goal to improve the delivery of CTE in the commonwealth. The bill package, including Roebuck’s legislation, now awaits Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature. Read more


Rep. Jim Roebuck Still a Teacher at Heart!

(Sep 04, 2019)

Roebuck is also looking to help make education more affordable, from kindergarten through college. Read more


Roebuck commends governor’s commitment to charter school reform

(Sep 03, 2019)

State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., and Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, released the following statement applauding Gov. Tom Wolf’s most recent charter school reform plan: “While I do support charter schools, I believe major revisions are needed to the 22-year-old law regarding the governance, financing and accountability of charter and cyber charter schools. “My mission has been to ensure that the original intent of the charter school law, which asserts that charter schools were to be innovative and to offer policies to be replicated, continues to be upheld in order to protect students and taxpayers. But we have not yet seen one substantial report that charter schools have created any educational model which could be replicated by other public schools. “Now, thanks to Governor Tom Wolf, with whom I am working closely, the charter schools will have to meet more requirements to improve accountability and transparency. “Over the past several legislative sessions I have pushed initiatives that would improve and strengthen charter school accountability. Most recently, we have introduced several individual bills calling on our colleagues who are concerned with public education in our state to move forward several measures, including imposing limits on fees charged for organizational management to making sure funds collected by charter schools for special education match the actual cost of Read more


Students, parents: 2020-21 FAFSA can be filed starting Oct. 1

(Aug 21, 2019)

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about going to college, it’s never too early to begin researching and applying for financial aid. Starting Oct. 1, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid . You must complete a FAFSA each school year. If you have completed a FAFSA in the past, most of your information will roll over automatically. The deadline is June 30 the year after for when you are applying. Items you may need in order to complete your FAFSA: A federal Student Aid ID Social Security Number Driver’s License Number, if you have one (optional) Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen W-2 Forms Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable) Records of untaxed income (if applicable) More information about paying for college is available at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency website, www.pheaa.org . Remember, the first word in FAFSA is FREE, so there is no need to pay anyone to file the application on your behalf. Read more


Dealing with College Debt

(Aug 19, 2019)

If you, or someone you know, is a recent college graduate, here is some helpful information that may help you deal with student debt. The federal governments Income-Based Repayment Plan for direct loans and Federal Family Education Loan caps your monthly payment at an affordable level, based on your income and family size, which may be less than traditional repayment plans. Click here to learn more and calculate your estimated loan payment . Deferment/Forbearance – Obtaining a deferment allows you to temporarily postpone your student loan payments. Forbearance temporarily reduces the amount you must pay. Talk to your loan servicer to learn if any of these is right for you and to find out if you qualify. Loan forgiveness is when part or all your student loan is forgiven based on your commitment to working in a specialized field for a certain number of years. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – This program encourages graduates to enter and continue working in public service . Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program – This program encourages graduates to enter and continue in the teaching profession in low-income schools. Click here for details . Much of this information and more is also available on the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency website , and the U S. Department of Education website . Read more


Roebuck announces over $3 million in state funding for the 188th District

(Aug 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 7 – State Rep. James Roebuck announced that more than $3 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants have been awarded to the 188th Legislative District. The following grant amounts were awarded to three entities: $1 million to D.C. Humphry’s Co. Inc., a HubZone compromised of several smaller businesses. The funding is being used to help construct buildings that will connect the businesses where they are currently housed. $2 million to the Community College of Philadelphia to develop a Career and Advance Technology Center at its West Philadelphia Regional Campus. $480,000 to the Free Library of Philadelphia to repair and upgrade the Kingsessing facility, which is in Roebuck’s district and the McPherson Square building. “These three projects are expanding growth through commerce, education and community. They are fundamental in providing a strong workforce both for current and future generations,” Roebuck said. “I thank Governor Wolf for his commitment in allocating these grants to improve and benefit our community for years to come.” The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is a commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. Read more


Deadline extended for Pa. Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

(Jun 10, 2019)

I'm happy to announce that the deadline for the 2018 Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31, 2019. The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded, and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2018 and meet all other eligibility criteria. You can get your application at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. My office also can help you, so don’t hesitate to contact me. Read more


Roebuck supports new PA Forward Student Loan Program

(May 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., today announced that PHEAA applications are available for the Commonwealth’s new PA Forward Student Loan Program, currently offering borrower-friendly loans for undergraduate and graduate students, and parent borrowers. “As costs for college continue to increase, we need to make sure that loans and other means to make college more affordable are readily available and known,” Roebuck said. “I’m happy to shine some light on this new loan program to help lower monthly payments and reduce the amount that students have to pay over their lifetime. This is critical to reducing the crippling debt of the next generation.” A PA Forward Refinance Loan will be offered later this year to combine all of a borrower’s federal and private loans into one convenient monthly payment, which could help lower their monthly payment and/or reduce the amount they pay over the life of the loan. Roebuck said with first-year borrowing limits on federal loans as low as $5,500, and the annual average cost to attend college in Pennsylvania over $43,000 a year, many students have trouble affording the full cost of attendance even after taking advantage of available grants, scholarships, campus-based aid, and federal loans. If family savings are insufficient, students often must rely on private student loans, many of which come with stricter credit requirements, higher interest rates, and few Read more


Roebuck and colleagues announce charter school reform package

(May 03, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 3 – Today, Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., alongside other House Democrats, unveiled a package of eight charter school reform bills designed to treat all Pennsylvania public schools – both traditional and charter – and their students equally under law. "I believe we can get bipartisan support for these bills and improve accountability in the charter school system,” Roebuck said. “Our goal is to treat these schools equally under the law, so that we can make sure tax dollars are being used efficiently.” Roebuck, Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, introduced H.B. 1330 that would end conflicts of interest in tax-funded payments for charter school leases. The seven other bills in the package are: H.B. 1329, introduced by Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, would bring charter schools in line with school districts by imposing limits on the surpluses that charter schools may accumulate. H.B. 1332, introduced by Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, would limit charter school management organization fees to no more than 5 percent of tuition charged per student enrolled. Besides limiting overhead, Longietti said his bill would require much more disclosure of financial documentation from for-profit and nonprofit school management organizations. H.B. 1331, introduced by Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny, would phase in a final recommendation of the Special Education Funding Commission to fix how Pennsylvania Read more


Roebuck publishes new charter school reform report

(Apr 29, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 29 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, issued his 5 th consecutive report on charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania. The report calls for strong reforms to charter schools. "We need to fix the problems with Pennsylvania's outdated charter school law,” Roebuck said. “They should be treated the same way as public schools since they receive taxpayer money.” The report is available online here . One highlight is an update on the performance of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, including: For 2016-2017, the last year the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile (SPP) reported scores, based on a score of 100, the average SPP score for traditional public schools was 69.6, for charter schools 58.8 and for cyber charter schools 46.7. None of the 14 cyber charter schools had SPP scores over 70, which is considered the minimum level of academic success, and 10 of them had scores under 50. 51% of public schools reached a score of at least 70, while only 20% of brick-and-mortar charter schools reached that goal. There were only 10 high performing charter schools with SPP scores above 80 in 2016-17, a sharp drop from 28 high performing charter schools in 2012-13. 43 charter and cyber charter schools, nearly one in five, have closed due to academic and/or financial reasons, some due to fraud and financial irregularities. Read more


Briggs and Roebuck introduce bill to better fund colleges, make higher education more affordable statewide

(Mar 28, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 28 – As hundreds of college students rallied at the state Capitol for affordable higher education this week, state Reps. Tim Briggs and James R. Roebuck Jr. joined in their call for action. Briggs, D-Montgomery, and Roebuck, D-Phila., recently introduced legislation (H.B. 993) that would make Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities more affordable and accessible. Their bill would create a higher education funding commission that would look at ways to improve access to higher education and job training in the state, including the charge to develop a higher education funding formula. “Pennsylvania ranks 48th, or third worst, in America at funding colleges, technical schools and universities,” said Roebuck, who serves as Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee. “By underfunding our institutions, we are creating a crisis for our graduates. That needs to change, because everyone benefits from the skills and education gained by students at our public institutions of higher education. To secure these benefits, we must invest substantial public resources to aid these institutions and their students in this important work.” The lawmakers said their legislation would ensure that Pennsylvania’s institutions receive appropriate and adequate funding, in turn working to combat Pennsylvania’s student debt crisis. They said a higher education funding formula would help determine the best distribution of Read more


PLBC condemns divisive invocation given in the House Chamber

(Mar 26, 2019)

Members from Philadelphia and of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today condemned a divisive opening prayer delivered Monday in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Here’s a selection of quotes. Rep. Stephen Kinsey, PLBC chairman: “On a day that should have been celebrated, we found ourselves confused and mortified. The swearing-in of Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell as the first Muslim woman to ever serve in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives was overshadowed by the outrageous remarks made by the Republican member. This is disgusting behavior. I choose to celebrate the diversity of our caucus, and welcome Representative Johnson-Harrell with open, loving arms. I believe our Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said it best, ‘It was beneath the dignity of the House.’ There is no room for hate.” Rep. Donna Bullock, PLBC vice chairwoman: “It is unfortunate that prayer was used to intimidate and divide. As our state legislature becomes more diverse, as we elect more women, more people of color, and people of different faiths and experiences, our ability to work together for all Pennsylvanians will be tested. I pray that my colleagues come to understand that Pennsylvania's diversity is our strength, not the enemy.” Rep. Summer Lee, PLBC treasurer who represents a portion of Allegheny County: ”We want to foremost, recognize and celebrate the historic victory and swearing-in of Read more


House Democrats sponsoring bills to improve access to career & tech ed programs in Pa.

(Feb 19, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, today announced his support for a bipartisan package of legislation that would enhance the quality of career and technical education programs throughout Pennsylvania. This four-bill package aligns with the House Democrats’ Plan4PA to give students throughout the commonwealth a quality education that would jumpstart their careers in vocational and technical job fields. “As Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, I am committed more than ever to improving the delivery of Career and Technical Education programs to those who need them the most,” Roebuck said. “These past few years, numbers have risen to more than 67,000 Pennsylvania high school students being able to participate in CTE programs. This bipartisan package of bills – especially my two bills – would build upon the success we have already seen, while also giving stakeholders a voice to make much-needed changes.” In 2015, the House unanimously adopted H.R. 102 to establish the Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness. The subcommittee, co-chaired by state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, made several recommendations that resulted in this package of legislation, including calling for a central database of resources. “Young Pennsylvanians contemplating career paths have access to a wealth of resources from Read more


Roebuck highlights PA Turnpike Commission summer fellowship program

(Jan 30, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 30 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., encourages college students and recent graduates to apply for a summer fellowship at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. “The PA Turnpike Commission is providing a tremendous opportunity to explore careers in transportation through their summer fellowship program,” Roebuck said. “Examples of successful projects in the past include the ‘Go Orange’ Campaign for Highway Safety, ‘Cashless-Tolling’ options, and ‘Turnpike 2040’, looking ahead to the future. These students are provided with one-on-one, mentored experiences with a good pay.” The Chief Executive Officer’s Intern Fellows Program for Diverse Groups is designed to attract and retain college juniors, seniors and recent graduates from underrepresented groups to careers in transportation through intern fellowships in the areas of engineering, administration, accounting, construction, information technology and maintenance with the Turnpike Commission. Roebuck said the turnpike CEO designates a high-level critical transportation issue and assigns a corresponding department to work alongside the interns as mentors. The department mentors assist the team to develop a solution, which is presented to the commission leadership, and eventually implemented. The fellowship serves to develop future transportation leaders through a strong emphasis on college disciplines in Science, Technology, Read more


Get free assistance with your Property Tax/Rent Rebate

(Jan 24, 2019)

Forms for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program for the 2018 tax year are available – and my office staff is ready to help you file yours for free ! The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2018 and meet all other eligibility criteria. The rebates normally are distributed by the Department of Revenue beginning July 1. So, the sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your money. Read more


Summer jobs - $13.56 per hour – for college students!

(Jan 10, 2019)

PennDOT will again sponsor an extensive Summer Maintenance Program for college students. The program runs May through August 2019 to supplement the permanent workforce. These students assist in completing summer maintenance work and sign upgrade services, provide maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities, and perform laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and highway worksites. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, enrolled full-time in college for the fall 2019 semester, and have a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license. The pay is $13.56 per hour. If you're interested, you should apply online AND you can also seek a recommendation from my office. If you are seeking a recommendation from me, please contact my office by Feb. 8. Remember, to be considered for this opportunity, you must apply online at www.employment.pa.gov to the PennDOT Summer Maintenance Program posting under the Open Jobs section of the website, even if you have worked for PennDOT before. Read more


Roebuck hosts successful sock drive

(Jan 09, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 9 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., hosted a sock drive from early November to Dec. 14 as a part of his “People for People” campaign. “It may seem like a small gesture, but these socks mean a lot to the people who receive them,” Roebuck said. “Not only are they given to children without them at our local schools during the coldest months, they are provided to the homeless, sick, and elderly in need too. This is a part of a much bigger plan to provide comfort and well-being to those in my community who suffer most. I love it when we can encourage people to come together within their own community for the betterment of others.” Approximately 700 pairs of socks were donated as a result of the drive. Children’s socks were divided up and given to school counselors at participating districts within the 188th Legislative District . The purpose is to allow children with no socks to have them in the wintertime. White socks were given to an organization that goes into the local homeless community offering foot care, such as clipping nails and addressing wounds. These clean, white socks are given after receiving care. Color socks were gift wrapped and donated to the state nursing home. They were given to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, with stories that they often remember that it is Christmas while unwrapping their socks. More information is available by calling Roebuck’s district office at Read more