Blake Speaks on Aging Issues and Funding to Support Seniors and Their Families

SCRANTON, April 28, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake today spoke about funding opportunities and the challenges facing the Pennsylvania legislature as the state’s population continues to age.

Participating as a panelist at the University of Scranton’s Conference on Aging Research, Blake said that with more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians set to turn 65 over the next 15 years, the legislature needs to work toward innovative solutions that will allow the state to continue to adequately fund programs that are essential to our elder residents.

“The University of Scranton is beginning to set the bar for research on aging issues and their research efforts can inform the decisions we must make as policy makers in this state,” Blake said. “It is my hope that as we move forward out of the current recession, Pennsylvania will be able to provide the essential services and care not only to our seniors but to the members of their families who are often the key providers of that care — and data from good research is the key to ensure we spend money wisely.”

Blake said that he was encouraged by the funding levels proposed for senior programs in Gov. Corbett’s budget proposal, specifically the $26.5 million increase in programs funded under the state’s Lottery Funds. These funds are used to support initiatives such as property tax and rent rebates, transportation subsidies, prescription drug assistance, long‐term care, and home and community services.

Senator Blake also extended thanks to Acting Secretary Brian Duke for his visit to Northeast PA and for lending his professional experience to the important work being done at the University of Scranton. Also graduate of the University of Scranton, Duke was the keynote speaker at the conference.

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Blake Brings Policy Committee to Marywood for Energy & Job Creation Hearing

HARRISBURG, April 13, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake today announced that the Senate Democratic Policy Committee will host a public hearing in Scranton on energy, economic development and job creation initiatives.

The hearing will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20 in the Nazareth Student Center at Marywood University.

Blake will be joined at the hearing by Policy Committee Chair Lisa Boscola (D- Northampton/ Lehigh/Monroe), Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and other Senate Democrats.
“I am excited to bring my Senate colleagues and our legislative proposals to Lackawanna County,”

Blake said. “This public hearing will be a great opportunity for legislators to not only discuss with our residents the pressing budget issues we are facing in Harrisburg, but also a great opportunity for our community and business leaders to share their experience and to discuss important, energy-related business opportunities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

The Blue-Green Jobs and Energy hearing will feature testimony from community leaders from the economic development, labor, job training and academic community.

“As chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, I am constantly looking for opportunities to take our committee around the state to hear local concerns on pressing issues,” Boscola added. “This hearing is another opportunity for the public to influence our policy decisions and goals as we move forward with state budget negotiations.”

Blake said that the Policy Hearing participants include:

  • R. Chadwick Paul, president and CEO of Ben Franklin Technologies;
  • Eric Esoda, executive director of Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, Inc.;
  • Kurt Bauman, Government Services Manager, NEPA Alliance;
  • Gregory K. Hunt, founding dean, Marywood University School of Architecture
  • Dr. Ann Pipinski, president of Johnson College;
  • Paul Casparrow, electrical training educator for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers;
  • Jim Teeple, vice president of Global Operations, Weiler Corporation
  • James Palumbo, president of Quad 3
  • Lew Grant, general manager of Valmont Industries

The hearing will start with a presentation by Sen. Blake highlighting the Senate Democrats’ budget priorities and the PA Works job creation initiative. The six-point plan is projected to create tens of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania while reducing state spending and encouraging private investment throughout the state.

“As the legislature continues to look for innovative and fiscally responsible ways to close the $4 billion budget gap, it is imperative that job creation remain our number one priority,” Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa said. “Our PA Works program will not only create much-needed jobs throughout the state, but it will also promote a business-friendly environment and expand business opportunities. As we continue to work our way out of this recession, we know that jobs and smart, well-focused investment will put Pennsylvania back on track.”

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Blake Reflects on 43rd Anniversary of MLK Assassination

HARRISBURG, April 4, 2011 – – On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed on a balcony outside of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, a day after speaking in support of labor rights.

Today, on the 43rd anniversary of this tragic event in our nation’s history, state Sen. John P. Blake asks everyone to take a moment to pause and reflect on the life of Dr. King and how his fight for justice, equal rights and equal opportunity led to the betterment of our society.

“To this day, the message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rings true,” Blake said. “Through his words and his actions he shed light on the darkness of injustice and oppression and he inspired a wider understanding of the inalienable rights we enjoy, and which we must always advance and defend, as Americans. Dr. King exemplified his own words when he stated that “all labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.’”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an African-American civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, five years earlier led the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

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Blake: Health Services Can Ill Afford Corbett Budget Cuts

HARRISBURG, March 25, 2011 — At a recent Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing, state Sen. John P. Blake voiced his concerns over Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed cuts to health services and health care delivery.

In questioning Acting Health Secretary Dr. Evi Avila, Blake took aim at the proposed elimination of state funding for Scranton’s Commonwealth Medical College, the four regional cancer centers and a $3 million cut to three area hospitals.

“This budget proposal not only weakens our ability to provide quality education, but it also drastically reduces state support for NEPA’s top-notch hospitals and health organizations – all of which can ill afford funding reductions,” Blake said. “Eliminating funding for the two-year old Commonwealth Medical College undermines our long-term health care planning needs while risking the future of the college and its medical students.”

Gov. Corbett wants to eliminate the $3.8 million budget line item for the college. Blake said the funding elimination, which accounts for 20 percent of the school’s total operating income, would significantly harm the college’s fiscal position, compromising its ability to meet accreditation requirements and endangering millions of dollars of taxpayer investment.

Blake, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also criticized the Corbett budget for falling back into a more expensive, reactive role in public health rather than being proactive and preventive by funding programs such as the regional cancer institutes that have already proven to save lives and money with early diagnosis and treatment.

“In a time of economic recession, elected officials need to look for ways to help – not hurt – our constituents,” Blake added. “By taking funding from our hospitals, regional cancer institutes and the state’s newest medical school, we would effectively reduce the quality of care, relinquish our ability to detect cancer in its earliest stages and force our future doctors to look to other states for their education and work.”

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‘Worst Economic Development Strategy’: Blake Cautions Against Higher Ed Cuts

HARRISBURG, March 22, 2011 – – At the first Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing, state Sen. John P. Blake criticized the proposed budget cuts to Pennsylvania’s higher education institutions.

“I look at this budget – particularly our budget for higher education — and I believe it is the worst economic development strategy upon which we can embark,” Blake said. “The cost of college tuition is already daunting for many who are seeking higher education. It is does not make sense at this time, or indeed at any time, to shift more of these costs to struggling families”.

In his budget, Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed a cut of $625 million, or 52 percent, for the 14 state-owned universities in the State System of Higher Education, as well as Pitt, Temple, Penn State and Lincoln. In addition, the Governor has proposed a 50 percent cut to Institutional Assistance Grants – funding that our independent colleges and universities use to enroll lower income students. Overall, Corbett proposed reducing funding for higher education by about 44 percent to $836 million.

“I understand that it is politically advantageous for Gov. Corbett to stick to his campaign promises, but when the campaigns are over and we’re elected, we have a responsibility to govern well. This budget does more harm than good as we try to grow out of this recession,” Blake added. “I look forward to additional budget hearings and I will work for a smarter and more fiscally responsible spending plan that focuses on long term benefits to our citizens and taxpayers – a budget that is not balanced on the backs of college students and their families.”

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