Blake Named 2015-16 East Stroudsburg University Legislative Fellow

IMG_6273_editEAST STROUDSBURG, October 9, 2015 – East Stroudsburg University president Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D. today announced that State Senator John P. Blake has been selected as their 2015 Legislative Fellow. Senator Blake was introduced to the university faculty, students, staff and special guests from the community at an on-campus breakfast earlier today.

“I am deeply honored to be selected to serve as East Stroudsburg University’s Legislative Fellow for the 2015-16 school year,” Blake said. “East Stroudsburg is a world-class institution and I strongly believe that this program presents a great opportunity to continue to establish a working relationship between legislators and our higher education community to ensure Pennsylvania state government is working to better our communities and improve the academic experience for all students in the Commonwealth.”

The East Stroudsburg University Legislative Fellow program, established in 1999, is designed to bring state legislators to campus to participate in a variety of campus activities and to meet formally and informally with students, faculty and staff throughout the year.

IMG_6282_editThe program is co-sponsored by the university administration and the local chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF). Fellows are selected by a committee of faculty and administrators, and jointly appointed by the university president and the president of APSCUF at the beginning of each academic year.

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Sen. Blake’s Student Ambassador Program Closes with Legislative Competition

groupSCRANTON, May 27, 2015 – State Senator John Blake today hosted 11 high school seniors from 7 local school districts for a legislative competition as the final chapter of this year’s Student Ambassador Program.

The Student Ambassador Program gives high school seniors from each high school in the 22nd Senate District an opportunity to represent their school in a number of meetings, tours and government networking events designed to help participants gain a better understanding of all levels of government and to develop critical thinking and leadership skills with an emphasis on public service.

“The Student Ambassador Program provides a great opportunity for local high school seniors to gain a better understanding of local, state and federal government operations. The student ambassadors also benefit from invaluable field experience in our public sector through our five-month program,” Blake said. “As we saw here today with the very thoughtful and professional presentations offered by our graduating seniors, the future of our region, our state and our country will be in good hands as these students of today become leaders of tomorrow.”

Today’s event, held at Marywood University, gave the student ambassadors an opportunity to make a legislative presentation to a panel of judges that included Sen. Blake, state Representative Eddie Day Pashinski and two legislative staffers.

For the presentation, the student ambassadors were tasked with putting themselves in the shoes of a state senator and proposing a new law of interest to them regarding transportation, education, emergency preparedness, environmental protection or human services. Each presentation was scored by the four judges on the substance of the proposal as well as on the strength of the argument.  Senator Blake will be awarding the top four presenters scholarship assistance for their post secondary academic pursuits.

The students scoring the highest in this year’s competition were Matthew Klucher from Abington Heights School District; Brian Swatt from Lakeland School District; Cassandra Semyon from Riverside School District; and Alexander Fried from Abington Heights School District.

Students interested in participating in Senator Blake’s Student Ambassador Program next year can begin applying in September.  All information related to the application can be obtained at their schools. Student ambassadors are nominated and recommended for participation in the program through an interview process with their school administrators, teachers or guidance counselors.

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Senate Democrats Seek Job Creation, Education, Safety Net Dollars in Budget Discussions

Harrisburg, April 17, 2013 – Senate Democrats’ 2013-14 budget priorities are heavily weighted toward job creation, education investments, strengthening the social-services safety net, modernizing liquor sales and refocusing Pennsylvania’s business tax menu to help small businesses, they announced today at a Capitol news conference.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said that Senate Democrats will go into this year’s budget negotiations with a clear purpose and “are resolved that the state’s economy must be jump-started. New jobs must be created and we have to reverse the negative course that the Corbett administration has plotted for Pennsylvania on education and protecting our most vulnerable.”

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“We have an opportunity and a responsibility to seek new investments and use resources that are available to change policy direction during this year’s budget negotiations.”

Costa said Senate Democrats believe that more than 120,000 jobs can be created quickly by enacting a responsible transportation plan, expanding Medicaid and using economic development policies outlined in their PA Works plan.

Costa was joined by a host of Senate Democrats in making today’s announcement.

Sen. Vincent Hughes, who serves as the Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that by taking action now on key economic initiatives then restoring job creation and community programs to their past luster — before Corbett budgets sliced them to the core — is an excellent starting point.

“We need to start creating jobs right now and we can do that by working on transportation and Medicaid expansion,” Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) said. “These initiatives coupled with rebuilding water and sewer systems, investing in schools and new technologies will create economic growth immediately.

“In addition, by investing in programs such as Main Street, Elm Street and international business we can help small business here while they market their products abroad.,”

Democratic Whip Sen. Tony Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) said that the caucus was turning up the heat on the Corbett administration on jobs, health care, education and social safety net issues because the governor has failed to lead.

“We’ve outlined reasonable strategic policy alternatives that will reverse direction and provide a new path and we’ve identified revenues that will pay for the proposed expenditures,” Williams said. “Pennsylvania is rudderless on job creation and our economic numbers and business indicators under this administration illustrate the problem.

“Our most vulnerable can also not withstand another senseless round of Corbett cuts and we have to restore programs that promote help for those in need.”

Williams said that Pennsylvania is now 43rd in job creation, falling from eighth place among all states under Gov. Ed Rendell’s leadership. Plus, he said, last month’s unemployment claims fell nationally to below 350,000 but, because of Corbett policy short-sightedness, Pennsylvania led the country in new unemployment claims.

Senate Democrats said that they have laid out specific plans to achieve results in the 2013-14 budget in five areas. These include: strategic investments to create jobs; improving education; repositioning business taxes while closing business tax loopholes; modernizing the wine and spirits stores; and repairing and protecting social safety net programs.

The caucus leaders said that they’ve noted at least $750 million in annual savings, plus another $150 million in one-time revenues. They also said that we need to find resources to pay for specific new expenditures including $225 million for basic education, $50 million to aid distressed cities and communities, $40 million for transitional housing and homeownership among other items, and funds for new tax credits for a variety of areas including film production.

Democrats said that priority details include a three-year phase in of new monies to restore education dollars and key student-performance based initiatives that were cut by the Corbett administration in the last two budgets.

They also said that they would emphasize rebuilding struggling communities through their Growth, Progress and Sustainability (GPS) plan; seek new funds for transitional housing and new homeownership opportunities; and push for modernizing the wine and spirits stores rather than the opt for the risky privatization scheme that has been sought by the Corbett administration.

The Democrats indicated that they expected the negotiations to become more focused once the Senate returns to session in late April.

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Blake Reminds Local Students, Families about Upcoming FAFSA Deadline

SCRANTON, April 16, 2012 – – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today reminded college-bound students and their families that the deadline to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming school year is May 1.

“As we begin the final months of state budget negotiations, the legislature must negotiate a spending plan that ensures we properly fund higher learning so a college education, which is essential to support the earnings potential of our future workforce, is not out of reach for thousands of Pennsylvania students and their families,” Blake said. “Further, as tuition costs rise, financial aid becomes that much more important for all Pennsylvania families with college students and it is imperative that these families are aware of the upcoming FAFSA deadlines.”

Blake said that in the 22nd Senatorial District alone, 4,639 students receive scholarship grant aid valued at $13.2 million. The average grant award in the 22nd Senatorial District is $3,240.

All first-time applicants for state scholarship aid, including students who plan to enroll in degree programs or college transfer programs at junior colleges or other colleges or universities, and students seeking to renew their state grant aid, must file their FAFSA by the May 1 deadline.

The application deadline for non-renewal students enrolling in community colleges, business or trade schools, nursing schools, or two-year programs that are not transferrable to another institution is August 1.

The FAFSA is used to determine if students qualify for almost all forms of need-based financial aid, including the Pennsylvania State Grant, federal Pell Grant, many scholarships and institutional awards and low-cost student loans.

Families can access the 2012-13 FAFSA and seek assistance completing the FAFSA online by visiting the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) website, www.pheaa.org or by calling Sen. Blake’s district office at (570) 207-2881.

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Blake Announces Free Webinar on Saving for College

HARRISBURG, September 23, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake today announced that he will partner with the Pennsylvania Treasury to host an informational “Saving for College with the PA 529 College Savings Program” webinar on Tuesday, September 27 at 6 p.m.

“A college education has become a prerequisite of sorts for employment and the PA 529 College Savings Program is a fantastic way for families to begin saving,” Blake said.  “The webinar will hopefully answer many of the questions you have about this program and about planning for the future of your children and their higher education aspirations.”

The webinar will give participants an opportunity to Learn about 529 plan basics, including the tax benefits, financial aid impact, and setting savings goals and have your questions answered by a program specialist.

For more information and to sign up for the webinar, visit www.senatorblake.com

The Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program offers two plans and many investment options that have helped over 150,000 families of all income levels answer one of their biggest financial concerns – how to afford college.