Democratic Policy Committee Discusses Human Service Funding with Area Providers

SCRANTON, May 16, 2012 – – Members of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee today met area human service providers at Lackawanna College to discuss current public policy issues and the adverse effect a proposed 20 percent state funding reduction would have on the people they serve.

Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chair Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) said the committee has been gathering input from providers and advocates throughout the state on the impact the Governor’s proposed budget will have upon their ability to continue to provide adequate services in their communities.

“This is a great opportunity for committee members and service providers alike to share ideas and continue the discussion about what their policy and funding needs are,” Boscola said. “It is imperative that the legislature continues to fight for programs and services that are proven successful, especially for the people who need our help the most.”

Last week, the Senate passed an updated version of the state’s 2012-13 spending plan that would increase state funding to human service providers by $84 million over Gov. Corbett’s initial budget proposal.

State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) spoke about how the continued budget cuts not only affect local social service organizations, but also the levels of service they can provide to individuals and their families who rely so heavily on quality services from providers in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“It was very important for my Senate colleagues to visit my district and hear entreaties from our local human service providers about the challenges they are facing on the front lines with limited resources and increased demand,” Blake said. “As we work towards a final state budget, we must be diligent in our negotiations so that those who need our help the most, including seniors, persons with intellectual disabilities and autism, and those struggling with their health or mental illness, are able to receive the care and support they deserve.”

Also participating in the discussion, state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) said that the legislature “must be mindful of the human impact and the negative consequences of reducing funding to programs that are an essential lifeline to families and individuals across the Commonwealth.”

Participants told the Senators about their current struggles to keep pace with the increasing demand for their services and the significant risk of reducing state support any further.

“The proposed budget cuts, even at the 10 percent level, would put many programs and services that we and others provide in serious jeopardy and if these programs go—they’re gone,” William P. Conaboy, President, Allied Services Health Integration System said. “A lot of these programs will be in jeopardy and these are programs that we need more than ever.”

Gary Drapek, President, United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties echoed those concerns.

“There has been no other time where we need the state’s help more than we do now – — and it feels like the rug is being pulled out from under us,” Drapek said. “This is about more than lines and numbers on a spread sheet, there are real lives and real people being affected.”

Other participants in the roundtable discussion included representatives from the Women’s Resource Center, The ARC of Northeastern PA, United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, Allied Services Health Integration System, United Cerebral Palsy of Northeastern PA, Northeast PA Center for Independent Living, and the Lackawanna-Susquehanna Behavioral Health, Intellectual Disabilities, Early Intervention Program.

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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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