Monday, September 6, 2010

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: September 6, 2010 - Happy Labor Day!

Join PathWays PA on September 23 for "Pennsylvania's Workforce: The Role of Community Colleges"


Featuring
Carol Goertzel, President & CEO of PathWays PA

September 23, 2 PM
United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania



PathWays PA is proud to announce a forum focused on the needs of Pennsylvania's workforce and the role community colleges can play within that workforce. The forum is based on a report from PathWays PA that examines the impact that community colleges and other workforce development can have on the earnings of Pennsylvanians.

While many students enter college straight from high school, a growing number of students need access to higher education after they have already entered the workforce. "Pennsylvania's Workforce: The Role of Community Colleges" examines the needs of adult workers in Pennsylvania and the part that community colleges can play in serving those needs.

In addition to discussing this report, participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about workforce development and community colleges from around the country. Vickie Choitz, Senior Policy Analyst at CLASP, will be speaking at this forum to highlight national research and information crucial to this important topic. Brandon Roberts, President of Brandon Roberts + Associates (which manages the national Working Poor Families Project) will also be on hand to discuss information on working low-income families.

RSVP here or by contacting Kate Scully at 610-543-5022 x255 or at kscully@pathwayspa.org.

Federal

Stop Discounting Women – Take the I’m Not Worthless Pledge

Women are short-changed every day. They are paid less than men, struggle to afford child care, and as they age are at greater risk of poverty. Women need real economic security — good jobs with fair pay, decent child care and a secure retirement because when women thrive, so do our families, our communities and the economy.

Join the National Women’s Law Center and take the “I Am Not Worth Less” pledge to help make sure our Senators stop the discounting of women’s needs and women’s paychecks!

The Senate must act swiftly when it returns to work in September to make certain that women get the equal pay they deserve. The Paycheck Fairness Act would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and bar retaliation against workers who disclose their wages to coworkers. The House already has passed the bill and now we need the Senate to do the same.

Women are not worth less and its time to stop discounting women’s paychecks! Pledge to help pass the Paycheck Fairness Act now.

Organizations: Sign Letter to Tell the Fiscal Commission "Do No Harm to Low-Income People"

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has been established by the President to make recommendations to substantially reduce the deficit by 2015. The Commission will forward proposals to Congress if 14 out of 18 members agree to them.

While steps should be taken to address long-term problema, the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is sending a letter to the Fiscal Commission asking them to hold low-income people harmless in their deliberations. If you agree that reducing the deficit by making cuts that hurt low-income people will only weaken the economy and our nation, please sign the letter. The deadline to sign the letter is Wednesday, September 8, 2010.

For more on why this is important, see CHN's testimony to the Fiscal Commission.

State

Changes to State Budget

In early August, Congress passed a bill sending $16 billion to the states in Medicaid and education funding. Out of that $16 billion, Pennsylvania is slated to receive $600 million in FMAP funds (Medicaid federal match funding) and nearly $400 million in school funding. Despite this influx of money, the state budget passed in July 2010 remained in deficit, resulting in a need for funding cuts.

Last week, the Rendell Administration announced the line item changes that will be made to bring the budget back into balance. These funds will be placed into "budgetary reserve," which means that the funds cannot be spent. For a look at specific line items, please see our blog post.

Even with the changes above, the budget is still not completely balanced. While approximately $212 million of the budget deficit has been covered, another $70 million needs to be found. When legislators return to session, they are expected to pass a severance tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale in order to make up the remainder of the deficit.

Information/Events

State Budget Fall Activities: Better Choices Conference Call with DPW Secretary Harriet Dichter

The Pennsylvania General Assembly will be back in session this fall with some unfinished business: finding the revenue to avoid even more cuts to health care, education programs and services for the vulnerable.

How will the cuts impact you?

Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition for a conference call with Department of Public Welfare Acting Secretary Harriet Dichter to hear more about the Rendell Administration's plans for cuts to health and human services to bridge the FMAP revenue gap.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 7 1:00

Hear about the efforts this fall to push back on the cuts and to enact a severance tax that will raise $70 million this year and as much as $400 million within a few years.

 RSVP for the call by emailing info@pennbpc.org. To join the call, dial 760-563-7676; the access code is 453547.

PHAN's Tuesday Night Policy Call Series Continues!

Join the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) every Tuesday night at 6:00 PM for a call on specific provisions of health care reform. Listen in as policy experts break it down for you. Bring your questions!

To RSVP email Athena at aford@pahealthaccess.org and indicate which of the following calls you're interested in joining.

Tuesday, September 7 - Everything You Didn't Know Was In the Bill... A fun call scheduled for the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Tuesday, September 14 - What Takes Place in September. September 23rd marks 6 months after the passage of health care reform. This call breaks down all the provisions scheduled to take affect that month and what PHAN is doing to celebrate the bill's passage.

Tuesday, September 21st - Youth and Health Care Reform. One of the provisions going into effect on the 23rd is that youth can stay on their parent's plan. Find out how exactly that works and who is eligible.

To RSVP or with questions email Athena at aford@pahealthaccess.org.


Is there a piece of the new law you'd like to see PHAN cover in one of these calls?
Please send suggestions, or requests for your organization to co-host a policy call to Athena Ford at aford@pahealthaccess.org.

How Might Proposed Tax Changes Affect You?

Citizens Tax Justice has released a new tax calculator designed to show how much you would pay in taxes under different plans being debated in Congress right now. Potential plans include the following:
  • Congress does nothing and the Bush tax cuts are allowed to completely expire,
  • Congress enacts Obama's proposal to extend some of the Bush tax cuts and some additional tax cuts (the Making Work Pay Credit and expansions of the Child Tax Credit and EITC that were included in the Recovery Act),
  • Congress extends all of the Bush tax cuts but none of the tax cuts included in the Recovery Act.
Please take a look at the calculator to see how you will fare, and let legislators know what you think!
PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

New Video on the Need for Sick Time in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania over 2.2 million workers do not have the ability to earn paid sick days. PathWays PA, as one of the lead organizers of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, has been working to bring legislation to Pennsylvania and Philadelphia that would allow all workers the ability to earn a minimum number of paid sick days.

The Coalition recently put together a video where workers told their own stories about how either having or lacking paid sick days has impacted them. Please take a few moments to listen to their stories and learn a little about the issue.

If you have a story about paid sick days that you would like to share please email policy@pathwayspa.org.

Self Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011

PathWays PA is proud to announce that we released the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011.  The Standard measures how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place must earn to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance.
Some ways the Standard can be and has been used include:
  • Funding - When applying for funding, the Standard promotes a new way to measure need and success
  • Eligibility - When creating or evaluating programs, using the Standard as an eligibility limit opens the programs to new populations
  • Reference - When discussing financial needs with board members, staff, or clients, the Standard establishes a new measure of reference
If you would like to receive a copy or have any questions about the Standard please contact policy@pathwayspa.org or call 215-543-5022 X255.

Online Training and Benefits Eligibility Tool

The Online Training and Benefits Eligibility Tool (OTBET) is an online tool that allows staff and clients to determine their personal Self-Sufficiency Standard and benefits eligibility for their own families. 
This is an easy to use tool that determines eligibility for multiple programs including LIHEAP, food stamps (SNAP), child care assistance, and CHIP.  Once eligibility is determined, link are provided to connect staff or client to COMPASS and other programs that clients may find useful. 

PathWays PA Resource Library Blog

The VISTA members at PathWays PA have developed a Resource Library Blog in order to facilitate the sharing of resources online.  The Resource Library is a compilation of financial education and asset development resources, public benefits information and career tools for agency staff and community members.

The blog covers topics including:
If you come across a good resource that you think should be a part of the blog, you may send an email to pathways.pa.vistas@gmail.com.  Be sure to reference the resource library in the subject line. 

We encourage you to use this resource to your benefit, and welcome any feedback regarding topics you would like to see addressed in the blog.

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