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Showing posts from June, 2009

When Do Job Interviews Cross the Line?

The AARP Bulletin recently published a list of job questions that stray into possibly biased or illegal territory. Among the questions mentioned is one including maternal profiling (aka “Are you married? Who cares for your children?”) An additional question referenced by the AARP (and one that will become even more relevant as Pennsylvanians age) is "Who cares for your elderly parent?"

Pennsylvania is one of many states that does not protect people based on marital status, as Kiki Peppard learned 15 years ago. Make sure that you are prepared for the questions that may come up in your interviews, particularly those that have no right to be asked.

Rendell Announces a New Round of Budget Cuts

As promised, Governor Rendell released a line by line list of an additional $500 million in cuts to the 2009-2010 Pennsylvania Budget. These cuts combine with previous reductions to bring his overall reductions to just over $2 billion. It is important, now more than ever, to contact your legislators to ensure that important programs are not cut. Please ask your legislators to preserve the Governor’s numbers on Child Care and Industry Partnerships and to reverse the cuts to important programs such as Adult and Family Literacy, State Food Purchase, Teen Pregnancy and Parenthood, and others.

The good news is that in his proposal are no cuts to key investments for early childhood education. The Governor has also committed to continue to fund the important Industry Partnerships program that provides employers the tools to improve and expand their workforce by bringing together companies committed to the development of their workforce.

The bad news is that revised budget plan impacts 8…

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 29, 2009

June 30: Public Meeting on Health-Care Reform

State Representative Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, has been selected as one of 32 state legislators nationwide to help President Obama reform health care.

The group, named the White House Team of State Legislators for Health Reform, has been asked to solicit input from constituent groups on health-care reform and report back to the White House with feedback as the administration works to craft health-care reform.

Shapiro will hold one of the first of these meetings on Tuesday, June 30th at noon in Room 421 of the Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg. The topic will be Women’s Health.



As the Budget Turns…Help Save Industry Partnerships and Child Care Work Subsidies!

Currently in Harrisburg, legislators are grappling with the state budget. In order for important programs, like the Industry Partnerships and Child Care Works Subsidies, to continue to receive funding, legislators need to hear from you.

Please contact your representatives and let …

New Health Insurance Numbers for Pennsylvania

(h/t Above Average Jane)

On Friday, Health and Human Services released some of the latest numbers on health care coverage across the country. For those of us in Pennsylvania, the numbers are stark, regardless of health insurance status.

Of those who lack healthcare (10 percent of all Pennsylvanians), 65 percent include families with at least one full-time worker. Between 2000 and 2007, the percent of Pennsylvanians with employer coverage decreased by 7 percentage points from 71 percent to 64 percent.

Those who have health insurance, meanwhile, have seen average family premiums increase by 103 percent since 2000. While 7.9 million Pennsylvanians (approximately) get healthcare through their employers, the family premium averages about $13,646, or $1,137 per month.

For the Record: PathWays PA's Statement on the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act

PathWays PA was given the opportunity to submit a statement for the record regarding the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act. Below is a short quote - you can find the full statement on our website:

PathWays PA would like to commend the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections for holding hearings to discuss the need for a minimum paid leave standard as depicted in H.R. 2460, the Healthy Families Act (HFA), and H.R. 2339, the Family Income to Respond to Significant Transitions (FIRST) Act. Both of these bills would provide much needed opportunities for workers to earn time to care for themselves, their children, and their families.

In short, we support these bills for the following reasons:

Paid Leave is a Limited, Regulated Benefit Earned by Workers: Paid leave bills establish a minimum workplace standard that would allow workers to earn a limited amount of time to care for themselves or their families.Paid Leave Makes Businesses Stronger: Paid leave programs increase productivi…

Covering All Kids Important During Tough Budget

For Immediate Release - Members of media can contact policy@pathwayspa.org for further information or to conduct interviews


Covering All Kids Important During Tough Budget
Governor Rendell, PathWays PA Client Among June 24 Press Conference Speakers
For PathWays PA client Zee Hurst and thousands of other Pennsylvanians, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provided important access to healthcare at a time when no other options were available. That is why she joined Governor Ed Rendell along with local pediatricians, child psychologists and other parents to speak at the Loving Care Children’s Learning Center on June 24.

During the past three years, CHIP has provided comprehensive health insurance coverage for thousands of children throughout Pennsylvania who would not have been eligible without the Cover All Kids program. However, current budget proposals rescind this CHIP provision, which could result in up to 12,000 kids being cut from the program.

Ms. Hurst’s story of CHI…

EITC Expansion in Climate Change Bill

For those of you following the cap-and-trade argument underway, the House will be voting on the latest climate change bill on Friday, June 26 (interesting reading on the bill are available from a variety of sources). But for those of you who follow the EITC, there is another important change within climate change – an expansion of the EITC to childless workers. Work Forward does a good job of explaining the expansion. One aspect of note: many noncustodial parents who owe child support do not have access to the EITC. The hope is that expanding the EITC to these workers creates an incentive to work and pay more child support, thereby benefiting those children.

Check Out "Young, Brilliant, and Baffled By Health Insurance" on Womenstake

PathWays PA Special E-Alert - June 24, 2009

Help Reform Child Welfare Financing
The Department of Public Welfare has recently delivered amendments to the Public Welfare Code to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in support of their goal to safely reduce the number of children in foster care placement by 20% by 2010.
According to the Pennsylvania Partnership for Children's Porch Light Project, at any given moment, 20,000 children find themselves living in the foster care system rather then with their birth families because they have been abused or neglected. Research demonstrates that children in home settings generally achieve better outcomes than those in institutional setting, including, higher levels of education, less alcohol or other drug abuse problems, more positive relationships with biological siblings, better housing stability, more close relationships and social support, less dependenc…

What Will the President’s Upcoming Announcement Mean to Job Training and College?

Since January, interest in postsecondary education has been building at a slow but steady pace from the President’s First Address to Congress to a recent press conference (in which the President noted that his Administration would soon “lay out a fundamental rethinking of our job training, vocational education, and community college programs.”) In the next few weeks, a “major announcement” is expected to lay out at least some of that plan.

The Workforce Alliance has done a great job of compiling many recent articles related to the President’s plan and to middle skills jobs in general. At least half of the jobs in Pennsylvania, and throughout the US, fall into the middle skills job category, requiring at least some postsecondary education (though not a bachelor’s degree).

Having an opportunity to earn additional training is important for the many workers in Pennsylvania who lack education beyond high school: 53 percent of adult Pennsylvanians (age 25 and over) stopped their education at…

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 22, 2009

Help Women and Low-Income Workers Gain Green Jobs from Climate Change Bill

In the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), women and other disproportionately low-income workers may be able to get on a pathway to economic security in new green jobs if
Congress adopts a provision targeting jobs and training. The provision will ensure that groups traditionally left out of construction gain a foothold as a result of federal spending on energy projects in the energy bill.

Please ask your representative to contact Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, and urge them to support such a proposal. They are in the process of preparing the ACESA for floor action as early as June 24.

Click here for the Green Construction Careers Proposal Summary for the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.


Help Ensure Appropriations for Transitional Jobs Programs!

Transitional Jobs pro…

Like Podcasts? Check Out A World of Possibilities as They Focus on Paid Sick Time

This episode actually came out last month, but it is still a good one to listen to. In May 2009, A World of Possibilities broadcast an episode on NPR focused entirely on paid sick time. You can also visit their website to hear the full, unedited interview with each guest. You can also find the episode on iTunes or though a variety of podcast feeds.

No Cost Eye Care Available to Qualified Seniors

EyeCare America is currently running a national health campaign encouraging seniors to call the EyeCare America Seniors EyeCare Program to see if they qualify for an eye exam and care, often at no-cost. From June 1 to August 31, qualified seniors can get a comprehensive eye exam and care for any disease detected in the initial visit for up to one year at no out-of-pocket cost for seniors who are without an eye doctor.

The program is available to those who:

Are U.S. citizens or legal residents Are age 65 and olderHave not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more yearsDo not belong to an HMO or the VA
For a Seniors EyeCare Program referral, those interested may call the toll-free help line 1.800.222.EYES (3937). The Seniors EyeCare Program help line operates all day, every day, year-round.


EyeCare America also offers programs for eye care needs related to glaucoma, diabetes, AMD (macular degeneration), and young children.

Follow up on the Healthy Families Act/ FIRST Act Hearing!

Last Thursday, the Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act. You can watch the archived webcast, shorter video clips, or read the testimony, to learn more. Some of the highlights:

“19 of the 20 most competitive countries in the world guarantee paid sick days – and the United States is the odd one out.” US Representative Rosa DeLauro "…according to the CDC, 23% of all norovirus outbreaks occur in nursing homes (CDC 2006)…. About a quarter of nursing home workers nationally do not have paid sick day benefits.” Rajiv Bhatia, Director Occupational and Environmental Health Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA “Providing paid leave is good for business. The Congressional Joint Economic Committee estimates that it costs nearly three times as much to replace an employee than to provide them with four weeks of paid parental leave.” Deborah Frett, CEO BPW Foundation, Washington, DC
You can also take action (thanks to

When is Seltzer Water Junk Food? When a School Wants To Add It To a Menu

MomsRising's most recent action alert starts by listing four food items: Hi-C Blast, Poland Spring seltzer water, french fries, and candy bars. All of these are available at a school near you - except the seltzer water, which is "junk food" according to national school nutrition standards because it contains no vitamins or minerals.

Now, I love french fries as much as the next person (and probably more), but I am fairly confident that they don't qualify as health food (even if my mom did count them as vegetables when my pediatrician asked if I was eating well). When children aged 6-11 are four times more likely to be obese than children a generation ago, it might be time to look at national school nutrition standards again.

MomsRising has a petition you can sign on updating the nutrition standards, which they plan to take to Congress in June 24.

Equal Pay Act: 46 Years Old but Still More Work to be Done!

The Equal Pay Act, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work, was 46 years old last week. This Act helped to narrow the wage gap; however, significant disparities still exist that must be addressed. For example, in Pennsylvania women earn only 75% of men in similar positions.

In January, the House of Representative passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. If passed by the Senate, this Act would strengthen current laws against wage discrimination and provide tools to enable the federal government to be more proactive in this fight by:
closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wagesallowing women and men to receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those subject to discrimination based on race and national originimproving the collection of pay information by the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Co…

Remember, Online is an Option When it’s Time for Social Security

A reminder from the Social Security Administration has been making the rounds (along with a video for those who have fond memories of The Patty Duke Show) to let people know that they can apply for Social Security and other important services online. Thanks to @AgingwithGrace for passing it on!

Support Needed for Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs!

To support these integral programs, please contact your local representatives to let them know that adult education and family literacy programs are seeing an increased demand for their services.

Sample message to legislators: “Adult education and family literacy are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to support themselves. These services have been seeing an increased demand in recent months. Please ensure funding for these programs.” Please include your own story as well!

New CLASP Report on Drug Testing

CLASP just released a new report on drug testing of welfare recipients, reminding us once again that random drug testing is an expensive and inefficient way to find public benefits recipients in need of treatment (not to mention unconstitutional).

Despite the data showing the inefficiencies of these drug tests, the report notes that at least ten states have introduced bills in the past year to require this testing, in addition to an amendment offered at the federal level (which was defeated). However, in these times of economic crisis, more states (including Pennsylvania) may look to similar bills to provide “savings” in the state budget. It is important to remember that, based on analysis from other states, these savings don't seem to exist.

Rendell Proposes Raising Personal Income Tax 0.5% for Three Years

Earlier today Governor Rendell proposed raising the state income tax from 3.07% to 3.57% for the next three years in order to cover some of the budget gap being seen in Pennsylvania. According to the Governor, the rate increase would raise $1.5 billion for the state.


Last week we posted a quick calculation from PCCY on the impact of a tax increase on families. As this issue continues to be in the news, we wanted to give you the opportunity to see how this increase might affect your family. Below is a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation on what a 0.5% tax would mean per household in Pennsylvania.

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 15, 2009

Support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program!

The VITA program provides free tax services for low-income taxpayers nationwide. Congress is currently reviewing the budget for FY 2010 - including funding for VITA programs. The National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) is asking that Congress increase federal funding for the VITA Grant Program to $14 million. Increased funding is needed to ensure that community tax preparers can meet the constant demand for their services.
During the 2009 filing season, 2,500 tax sites that received VITA grants prepared over 700,000 tax returns. However, more funding is needed in order to improve and expand free tax services, particularly for underserved taxpayers in hard-to-reach communities.
For more information or if you would like to help please see NCTC's Action Alert.


Call Today to Save Housing, Services, and Education in PA!
Pennsylvania needs a budget that protects people's homes, social services, and education. The curren…

Parental Wage Discrimination

We’ve discussed pay equity and maternal profiling on this blog. But this June 11 posting by Womenstake brings the two together, highlighting a study that shows mothers were far less likely to be hired than non-mothers, and earned about $11,000 less than non-mothers. Fathers, meanwhile, were judged to be more committed than non-fathers - a study in 2000 even showed that fathers received a “wage premium” in comparison to non-fathers.


The fathers in our lives should be honored, especially in this week leading up to Father’s Day. But let’s not confuse honoring one parent by discriminating against another.

"No Correlation Between Paid Sick Time and Job Loss" - New CEPR Study (#sickdays)

As you get ready to watch today's Paid Sick Days Hearing, you might want to take a minute to read the CEPR's latest report, "Paid Sick Days Don't Cause Unemployment," which shows that countries implementing paid sick time policies do not experience job loss as a result. In fact, there are savings created by implementing paid sick time, both from a lack of presenteeism and by limiting the spread of contagious illness.

Once you read the report (or even if you don't), please take action:

Ask Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, ensuring that everyone who works has paid sick time to care for themselves and their families. Please write an email,Tweet your friends (you can use @MomsRising 's short tag http://is.gd/XgBT), or make a phone call today.You can also join us on Facebook to support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia, or become part of our coalition of advocates and businesses working to ensure all Philadelphians and Pennsyl…

Smart Pharmacy Facing Problems

Smart Pharmacy, also known as the pharmacy carve-out, would yield significant savings to the state on the cost of Medical Assistance prescription drug benefits. These savings would be achieved by giving DPW authority to administer the drug prescription program for all 2 million MA recipients. Currently, DPW does not administer the benefit for 1.2 million MA recipients who are enrolled in managed care organizations in the Southeast, South-Central, and Southwest parts of the state.

However, the program is facing some opposition from legislators and providers, as it has over the past two years when it has come up for a vote.

Smart Pharmacy is estimated to save the state $146 million per year in reduced costs. In this time of budget crisis, every dollar is needed to reduce cuts in programs that are vital to our state.

Support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program!

The VITA program provides free tax services for low-income taxpayers nationwide. Congress is currently reviewing the budget for FY 2010 - including funding for VITA programs. That National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) is asking that Congress increase federal funding for the VITA Grant Program to $14 million. Increased funding is needed to ensure that community tax preparers can meet the constant demand for their services.

During the 2009 filing season, 2,500 tax sites that received VITA grants prepared over 700,000 tax returns. However, more funding is needed in order to improve and expand free tax services, particularly for underserved taxpayers in hard-to-reach communities.

For more information or if you would like to help please see NCTC’s Action Alert.

Universal Feeding Program Saved -- for Now

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided that the popular and successful Universal Feeding program, which provides school meals to tens of thousands of low-income Philadelphia school children, will continue. Thanks to all of you who took action on this important issue!

The USDA has postponed making a decision on program until Congress considers a national update of child nutrition programs, in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. This postponement came following “vocal and persistent” efforts from the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation and from constituents.

The Universal Feeding program allows more that 120,000 students in poor school to eat free meals without having to fill out application. The continuation of this program is vitally important because studies have shown that large numbers of children go hungry when they are required to provide school meal applications. According to state figures, nearly twice as many students get free meals when parents…

Reminder: Legislative Hearings on Earned Sick Time on June 11

You can act now on the Healthy Families Act by asking Pennsylvania’s legislators to cosponsor it. You can also write to your legislators about the FIRST Act – a sample letter of support has already been written by the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Watch the webcast live, and view our June 8th blog post for more details!

Check out "Worker's Rights to Paid Sick Days" on the WLP Blog

One of PathWays PA's partners in work on earned sick time has a great blog posting up regarding the issue. Check it out, and take action on earned sick time today by:

Asking Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, ensuring that everyone who works has paid sick time to care for themselves and their families. Please write an email, Tweet your friends (use the hashtag #sickdays if you can), or make a phone call today.You can also join us on Facebook to support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia, or become part of our coalition of advocates and businesses working to ensure all Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to earn sick time.

Senate’s Budget Proposal Struck Down!

Yesterday, Senate Bill 850 did not receive the votes needed by the House Appropriations Committee to move on. The bill was defeated by a vote of 20-14.

If passed Senate Bill 850 would have substantially reduced funding for critical programs including those involving childcare, education, affordable housing, and industry partnerships.

Thank you to everyone who spoke out against this bill! Please keep reminding your representatives that in these difficult times investments in programs that involve education and economic development are needed more than ever, to create jobs as we strive to get through this recession.

Study on Philadelphia Public High Schools Shows that Graduation is Good, But Postsecondary Education is Better

I just started reading “Untapped Potential,” a study of a cohort in Philadelphia’s public high schools, released June 4 by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins. Among other issues this report raises, the gender gap in income is most evident not among high school dropouts but among students who have a high school diploma but no postsecondary education. According to the report, the earnings gap “virtually disappeared” for students who went on to get some college education.

A middle skills education, where students get at least some postsecondary education, is increasingly more important to Pennsylvania’s workforce. While Philadelphia’s high dropout rate among high school students has led us to focus on high school diplomas and GEDs, we must remember that high school is only one step on the educational ladder to success.

To Raise or Not to Raise? (h/t PCCY)

As legislators continue examining ways to close the over $3 billion budget gap in Pennsylvania’s budget, one idea keeps percolating to the top: raising the state Personal Income Tax (or PIT). Pennsylvania’s PIT is one of the lowest in the country, and it is possible that raising it would cover the budget gap, at least for this year.

PCCY recently put together a chart showing how raising the PIT would affect individual taxpayers, which you can see above (there are actually two charts for the two different scenarios being proposed right now). We don’t know if the PIT will be raised, and if it is, the hike is likely to be temporary, according to the Governor.

As you can see from the chart, someone earning $40,000 per year would pay an additional $120 per year under Scenario 1, which is a 3/10 percent increase. Under Scenario 2, people earning $40,000 would pay about $400 more per year than they do now. (Households earning below $32,000 for a family of four are currently exempt from the…

Legislative Hearings on Paid Sick Time (#sickdays)

On Thursday, the first legislative hearings will held on paid sick time as the House reviews the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act. The Healthy Families Act provides workers with the opportunity to earn up to 7 days of paid sick time per year, while the FIRST Act provides grants to states so that they can create paid leave opportunities for workers with FMLA-type issues.

You can act now on the Healthy Families Act by asking Pennsylvania’s legislators to cosponsor it. While five of our legislators (four House members and Senator Casey) have cosponsored the bill already, the rest need to hear from you about why paid sick time is important to you and your family.

You can also write to your legislators about the FIRST Act – a sample letter of support has already been written by the National Partnership for Women and Families.

And finally, you can watch everything as it happens online – there will be a webcast on June 11 on the Committee’s website – just click on “Live Webcast.”

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 8, 2009

June 9: Save Our Homes Day!

The Save Our Homes Coalition is sponsoring a Save Our Homes Day for Pennsylvania homeowners to educate legislators on the need to help families facing the loss of their homes.

WHERE: Harrisburg – Capitol Rotunda
WHEN: June 9 – Noon

Transportation is leaving Philadelphia at 7 AM from 16th and JFK.

The state’s Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) loans money to deserving homeowners to pay their mortgages until they get back on their feet. Unfortunately, this vital program is hugely under-funded. This is an opportunity, prior to the passage of the state budget, to make it clear to the Legislature that we need a working, fully-funded, HEMAP program to get people through the current recession.

Please contact John Dodds 215-557-0822 or Tim Styer at 215-557-0822 with any questions or if you would like a ride to Harrisburg.



Urge Your Senators to Support the Family Tax Relief Act!

Families are struggling to make ends meet and the cost of child…