Blake: Budget Streamlines Government, Invests in Education, Economic Development

HARRISBURG, February 7, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today released the following statement regarding Governor Wolf’s proposed $32.3 billion state budget:

“Governor Wolf, since the start of his administration, has been demanding efficiency, better performance and savings in the operations of state government. That work certainly has paid some dividends and it will continue to drive, perhaps more than anything else, this year’s budget process.”

“The Governor’s proposed 2017-18 has a number of important initiatives that I support, and have supported since taking office in 2011, to streamline state government and invest in areas most important to the citizens of Pennsylvania. This budget proposal uses state revenues more effectively to fund what the people of Pennsylvania want and deserve – an increase in state support for basic education, special education and Pre-K; adequate funding to serve the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities; state investment to assure proper treatment and healing for those caught in the tragedy of the opioid epidemic; and it continues the role of state government in workforce development and investment in infrastructure to leverage private investment to ensure vitality in our cities and our communities.”

“The Governor has again called for a severance tax on the natural gas industry to better compensate Pennsylvanians for the volume of natural gas extracted from our state. I have supported a responsible, reasonable severance tax since coming to Harrisburg. Additionally, Governor Wolf has proposed combined reporting for Pennsylvania businesses – which reflects a bill I have previously introduced in past legislative sessions and will reintroduce shortly. Moving to a system of combined reporting – as at least 24 other states have done – would advance tax fairness by effectively closing the so-called “Delaware Loophole” and ensuring we stop legal tax avoidance by large, multi-national and multi-state corporations.”

“I commend the Governor and his team for taking an aggressive tact in balancing this year’s budget while sending a positive message to capital markets that we will have a sustainable plan to meet our future obligations to the citizens of this state.”

“As a member of the Senate Democratic leadership team and the Appropriations Committee, I look forward to debating the specifics of this budget and to our continued work on reforming property taxes and state pension systems which I believe will be important issues in the coming budget debate.”

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Blake, Gov. Wolf Announce $ 3 Million State Investment in Lackawanna College

img_7724Scranton, PA, October 1, 2016 – Governor Tom Wolf today joined Senator John Blake to announce a $3 million state grant to aid in the redevelopment of vacant buildings in downtown Scranton into multi-use classroom and laboratory space at Lackawanna College. Once construction is complete, the six-story, 95,300 square-foot structure located at 401 Adams Avenue will be known as “Cornerstone Commons.”

“Lackawanna College has long been an institution deeply rooted in the Scranton Community,” Governor Wolf said. “The Cornerstone Commons project will not only support further growth of the college’s education programs at the main campus, but contribute to the economy of Scranton, will remove and recreate a former underutilized complex, and will help to stabilize the area from further decline.”

The $3 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant will allow Lackawanna College to complete a full renovation of the 1970s-era building, which will house classrooms, conference rooms, administrative offices, and laboratory space to support the operation of academic degree and continuing education programs.

img_7702“This $3 million grant for the Cornerstone Commons project is another extraordinary investment by the state in the City of Scranton through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program,” Sen. Blake said. “Once renovation is completed, the improved buildings and streetscape in the heart of our downtown will be used to expand academic and continuing education programs.  Governor Wolf and I are glad to announce this partnership with Lackawanna College which will leverage significant non-state investment in the future of the City and the region.”

“Lackawanna College is extremely grateful to Governor Wolf, Senator Blake, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for their investment in our project, our students, and our community,” said Mark Volk, President of Lackawanna College. “We have remained focused on providing high-quality educational opportunities at an affordable tuition level, and investments like this allow us to develop and expand exceptional programs and state-of-the art facilities without directly translating the costs to our students. Once completed, we will have taken a long-blighted property and repurposed it in a way that not only adds jobs and revenue to the city but also significantly upgrades the educational and quality of life offerings for our students.”

The project is expected to create 110 non-permanent jobs during construction, with an additional 66 new full-time jobs and 21 new part-time jobs once the project is complete.

“Lackawanna College is an integral part of our community and provides an affordable college education to area students,” said Rep. Frank Farina. “I am happy to support funding for this worthwhile project and I thank Governor Wolf for his efforts. Congratulations Lackawanna College.”

Blake Applauds Senate Confirmation of Two Local Residents to Wolf Cabinet Posts

HARRISBURG, May 13, 2015 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today applauded the unanimous Senate confirmation vote in favor of two Lackawanna County residents.

The Senate voted 47-0 earlier today to confirm Teresa Osborne as secretary of the Department of Aging and Karen Murphy, R.N., Ph.D., as secretary of the Department of Health.

“Teresa Osborne and Karen Murphy are excellent choices by Governor Wolf to lead the missions of the state Department of Aging and Department of Health and I am grateful that my Senate colleagues unanimously confirmed their respective nominations,” Blake said. “I have had the pleasure to work closely with both of these women over the years and I am confident that they will make a significant impact at the state level.”

Teresa Osborne had recently served as the executive director of the Luzerne/Wyoming Counties Area Agency on Aging. She has also served as the chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton; the executive director of the Lackawanna County Department of Human Services; and the executive director at the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging.

“Ms. Osborne has dedicated her life to improving the quality of life for the growing senior citizen population in northeastern Pennsylvania and now she will extend that dedication to seniors across the Commonwealth,” Blake added. “With significant challenges facing our seniors and their families across the state, it was imperative that Governor Wolf chose an individual such as Ms. Osborne who has a strong background in the field and good experience in public policy to lead the Department of Aging.”

Dr. Karen Murphy recently served as Director of the State Innovation Models Initiative, a $900 million investment by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation aimed at accelerating health care innovation across the nation. She is also the former president and CEO of Moses Taylor Health Care System in Scranton and is a Clinical Faculty Member in the Medicine Department at The Commonwealth Medical College.

“Ms. Murphy has a proven record of success at every level of the health care system and she has a wealth of knowledge and experience.  As someone who began her wonderful career as a nurse, she brings great sensibilities and intelligence to the PA Department of Health,” Blake said.  “As an effective leader and experienced managerial executive, she will keep our Department of Health on the cutting edge of technology and innovation in public health.”

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