Survey: Budget impasse continues to negatively impact social services organizations

A survey released Thursday by the United Way of Pennsylvania shows the continuing Pennsylvania budget impasse is leading to compounding negative impacts among commonwealth social services organizations that rely on state dollars to make ends meet.

According to the survey, of the 282 organizations queried, 47 organizations have had to lay-off or furlough employees while some have cut back employee work hours and/or access to employee benefits.

In more specific numbers, the survey shows 45 full-time employees have been laid off or furloughed along with an additional 50 part-time employees. 522 employees have had hours reduced while another 73 people are working without pay.

510 employees have lost access to benefits.

Thursday, October 15, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Budget reality and new revenue possible in coming weeks?

As budget negotiations continued on the staff level Wednesday, GOP leaders pointed out that they are expecting their Democratic counterparts to come around to the new reality of what it will take to get a budget done - particularly as it relates to the unviable prospects of increasing sales and personal income taxes - but also did not close the door on the use of new recurring revenue sources to plug budget holes.

“I think the word to use now is ‘reality’,” Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) told The PLS Reporter in a brief interview. “I’ve had Senate Democrats coming to me with recognizing the reality that a sales tax increase and a personal income tax increase did not have all the votes in their caucus and I think the governor has found that out with the vote last week.”

He relayed Senate Republican leadership will be updating their caucus next week on the fiscal and financial condition of where the Commonwealth currently is and preparing them to look “at what the reality is.”

Sen. Scarnati added that so long as House and Senate Democrats are “in the reality world” of having the sales and income tax increases off the table then both sides can sit down and work together toward the goal of arriving at an agreed-to spend number and put a budget together.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
VIDEO: Sec. of Health releases report on Lyme disease in Pennsylvania

VIDEO: Sec. of Health releases report on Lyme disease in Pennsylvania

Secretary of Health Karen Murphy today announced the release of the first-ever comprehensive report, produced by the Task Force on Lyme Disease and Related Tick-Borne Diseases, on Lyme disease in Pennsylvania to help guide the commonwealth's strategy to address this growing health problem. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
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Senator wants to boost natural gas industry through infrastructure competition

Senator wants to boost natural gas industry through infrastructure competition

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) took to the microphone Tuesday to promote his Senate Bill 953, which he said will give a boost to Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry by increasing competition by allowing companies to expand natural gas line infrastructure.

Currently, he said, half of all households and one-third of all businesses do not have access to natural gas.

“We do have some influence on what is happening in Pennsylvania, and what is happening in Pennsylvania is we have a significant number of wells…what we do have is a lack of demand and over-supply and as a result the price has gone down, the activity has slowed down,” he said.

He stated creating an infrastructure where people who want natural gas can get natural gas will reinvigorate the natural gas industry by releasing stored gas, increasing competition for customers, and driving up price, which he said will lead to more state revenues.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Capitol Quick Hits for 10.13.15

Capitol Quick Hits for 10.13.15

Here are the highlights from news conferences, rallies, and advocacy days held in the Capitol today: 

  • The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence had an event in the Main Rotunda to honor more than 120 Pa. victims who have died in domestic violence homicides in the past year by having their names  read aloud by lawmakers.
  • The Neighborhood Academy, a college prep high school for low income students located in Pittsburgh, held a press conference today to discuss the state budget impasse, while also highlighting the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) held a press conference at Bishop McDevitt High School today to discuss his recently introduced anti-hazing legislation. HB 1574 would propose that hazing should apply to all persons, not just students and would provide additional enforcement programs for secondary schools to implement anti-hazing policies. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
Categories: Event Central
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