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The Senate Appropriations Committee was the busiest place at the capitol this week. Here are the highlights:
School Safety Cuts are Kushscheisse/Bulls***!
We have all witnessed too many tragic school shootings across this country. In response to these horrible tragedies, I chaired 10 public meetings across the state to enhance school safety. From the information we received from these roundtables, Republicans, Democrats, the legislature and the governor came together to put millions of dollars into a new grant program to upgrade school safety across the Commonwealth.
Despite the vital importance of the program, Governor Wolf’s new budget now proposes to cut $45 million from the program (a 75% reduction). That’s the cut that I termed, in my Pennsylvania Dutch temper, as “kushsheisse” (Bulls***)
This cut in school safety is legislative malpractice and I asked the Secretary of Education to find out who suggested this cut and have them fired immediately.
Sometimes there are issues in education that we will disagree about— such as SB 76 and why we must eliminate unfair property taxes—but we shouldn’t be debating our young peoples’ safety.
Schools in Schuylkill County and Berks County were awarded school safety grants this week, similar to what the Governor wants cut. My prediction: there will be bipartisan support to restore these grants!
You can watch my full exchange with the Secretary of Education here.
The best welfare program for the able-bodied is a job!
The Independent Fiscal Office tells us that Ohio is twice as successful in moving people from welfare to work as Pennsylvania. West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware all do better at this key task than Pennsylvania. This is inexcusable!
You can watch my exchange below with the Secretary of Human Services, where I suggested that we free up more dollars for struggling seniors and individuals with intellectual disabilities by helping to move able bodied welfare recipients into much-needed jobs all across PA:
Why would the Governor threaten to veto thousands of new jobs?
During my questioning of the Secretary of Labor and Industry, I asked about a bipartisan bill that would provide thousands of new jobs and would expand on Pennsylvania’s role as a national energy exporter.
Though this bill has received praise from labor and employer groups across Pennsylvania, the Governor has threatened to veto the legislation – regardless of how many jobs it would bring here.
The Governor should sign this bill, not veto it!
You can watch the video below:
The Abandonment of Blue Collar Workers by their Traditional Allies?
Bills to ensure that workers are legal residents for construction jobs and a bill to create thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs, have been opposed by legislators aligned with the Governor. You can read more about it in this newspaper article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as submitted by Dennis Matire, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
Creating Energy from Waste Coal
Since the 1980s, the coal refuse industry has turned huge mountains of waste coal piles into electric power. At my request, the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee conducted a public hearing in McAdoo to review the threats to this industry. Environmental advocates and business and union representatives testified as to how these plants have created power, jobs, and improved the environment in places like northern Schuylkill County.
As you can see in the picture above, the coal refuse industry can improve our local environment. Polluted streams have been restored, mountains of waste coal have been removed, and large abandoned strip mines have been filled… but we still have much work ahead of us!
Passenger Trains Returning to Tamaqua for Special Events
Several years ago, I worked with local volunteers to restore Tamaqua’s historic 1874 train station. The Reading & Northern Railroad will bring passenger trains back to Tamaqua this spring with the building of a new passenger platform under a public-private partnership. The trains will offer a variety of new recreational opportunities to Tamaqua and the area. You can read more here.
Maidencreek Church Dedication
Last Sunday, Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Rep Barry Jozwiak (R-Berks) and I were invited to the dedication of the Maidencreek church that has undergone renovations so that all people can attend events there, including local Scout units and other community organizations. Congratulations on a major success!
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