Monday, April 18, 2011

Pathways PA E-Newsletter: April 18, 2011

Federal Policy Update

FINAL FY2011 BUDGET DETAILS RELEASED

Late last week, details were released on the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 continuing resolution (CR) negotiated by the White House and Congressional leaders. The bill, which will fund the federal government through September 30, includes $38.5 billion in cuts below current funding levels—$78.5 billion below levels requested in the President's FY 2011 budget proposal—and includes $13 billion in cuts to programs under the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.

Cuts under the final CR are less severe than anticipated, with job training programs at Department of Labor facing just under $1 billion in cuts, including:
  • Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding is cut by $307 million, but $125 million for a new "Workforce Innovation Fund" is included in the bill, resulting in a net reduction of $182 million in WIA formula funding;
  • $125 million in FY 2010 funding for the Career Pathways Innovation Fund is rescinded (the FY 2011 funding was eliminated as part of an earlier short-term CR);
  • The Green Jobs Innovation Fund is eliminated ($40 million);
  • Funding for YouthBuild is cut from $102.5 million to $80 million; and
  • Funding reserved in FY 2010 for Transitional Jobs is eliminated ($45 million).
Click here to download a detailed table of all workforce funding cuts.

Though significant, these cuts to workforce programs could have been much worse. It is thanks to your hard work and advocacy over the past few months that these cuts were not deeper.

Unfortunately the budget war is not over. The House FY 2012 budget proposal goes even further than FY 2011, slashing to the bone funding for the nation's workforce system. Far from being a "path to prosperity," the House FY 2012 budget proposal is instead a roadmap to disaster, ensuring America's workers lack the critical skills necessary to compete in the 21st-century economy.

The House and Senate have already begun debating the FY 2012 budget, and will take up the debate again when they return to Washington following a two-week recess. Beginning this week, policymakers will be back in their home districts, which is a great opportunity to continue to weigh in and let them know that educating and training America's workforce is vital to the nation's economy and critical to getting millions of unemployed people back to work.

Make sure your elected officials know that now is not the time to cut employment and job training services. Below are a few ways you can start weighing in now with policymakers on the upcoming FY 2012 budget:

Do you have 1 minute?
Send a letter to your Senators and Representative urging them to protect workforce funding in the FY 2012 budget.

Do you have 5 minutes?
Write a message on your elected officials' Facebook or Twitter pages and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same. Click here to download some talking points to use in crafting your message.

Do you have 10 minutes?
Call your Members of Congress. Click here to download talking points you can use in speaking with the Member's staff.

Do you have 20 minutes?
Write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper and/or to a larger state or national newspaper. Click here for some tips for success.

Do you have 60 minutes?
Write an Op-Ed piece for your local paper. Need some inspiration? Click here to read some great opinion pieces or click here for helpful tips for writing and submitting your piece.

Do you have a few hours?
Invite your Members of Congress to visit your program. Site visits are a great opportunity to educate policymakers on the important role of education and training services in their community. Click here to download a checklist for success.

This information provided by the National Skills Coalition.

State Policy Update

TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT A VETO OF HOUSE BILL 40
 
Both Houses of the Pennsylvania legislature have passed a law to expand the use of deadly force called the "Castle Doctrine." Soon it will go to Governor Corbett's desk for approval. 

In Pennsylvania, the law already says that you may use deadly force to defend yourself in your own home. You can even use deadly force outside of your home, if you have no other option.

With this new expansion, the legislature will change the standards of self-defense so that some one who is attacked with a deadly weapon can defend himself with deadly force, with no obligation to first try to escape the attacker.

With violence on the rise across Pennsylvania, please ask our legislature to take steps to reduce violence by cracking down on criminals who use and traffic illegal guns. To sign a petition to Gov. Corbett to veto the Castle Doctrine Expansion Bill, visit www.ceasefirepa.org/castle.

This information provided by Women in Transition, Inc.

PENNSYLVANIA SEVENTH AMONG STATES IN WOMEN-OWNED FIRMS

A report by American Express OPEN, a branch of the parent financial company American Express, analyzes growth of women-owned businesses from 1997-2011. The report ranks Pennsylvania seventh among states in number of women-owned business at 282,600 firms, up 40 percent since 1997.

However, Pennsylvania ranks low on the list at 36th for revenue growth of women-owned firms. Sales at women-owned firms in Pennsylvania were around $49.5 million, only a modest increase from $34 million in 1997.

Nationally, the largest sector for women-owned firms is health care and social assistance, accounting for sixteen percent of all women-owned firms. The two sectors of women-owned firms with the largest growth both in number of firms and in employment and revenue that have out-paced industry-level growth are construction and mining.

Click here to read the full report, or here for an article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

adultBasic REMAINS IN THE NEWS 


Six weeks after Pennsylvania discontinued the adultBasic health insurance program for low-income adults, what to do with the money that funded the program remains in controversy. On Thursday, a PA Commonwealth Court judge denied a preliminary motion filed by the Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Gov. Corbett’s administration. The lawsuit, which had been joined by Pennsylvania Congressional Democrats along with 75 former adultBasic enrollees, was filed to prevent redirecting the adultBasic funding stream to a new Liberty Loans program. CLICK HERE to read the AP’s story, and HERE for a story from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Earlier last week, the Inquirer also reported that former enrollees in adultBasic would receive a letter from the state notifying them if they potentially qualified for free Medicaid coverage. A reported 19,000 Pennsylvania adults could potentially qualify, according to the Inquirer.

The Pennsylvania Health Action Network is calling for you to take action to determine the fate of the adultBasic funding. For more information visit the PHAN website.

Information/Events

TODAY IS TAX DAY

See our Special PathwaysPA Section below for more information on how to get free tax preparation.

LET’S DECLARE APRIL 18TH “CLOSE TAX LOOPHOLES DAY”

Working families in Pennsylvania have good reason to dread tax day. If your family earned more than $33,000 this year, you paid more in income taxes than 85 percent of Pennsylvania corporations. Seventy-four percent of Pennsylvania corporations did not pay any income taxes.

One way large multi-state and multi-national corporations shrink their tax bills down to zero is by employing high-priced accountants to game Pennsylvania’s tax system. Tax loopholes allow them to shift income earned here to tax-haven states like Delaware, leaving little or no income on the books in Pennsylvania.
Rather than just grumble about filing our taxes this year, let's declare April 18 "Close Tax Loopholes Day" in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Sharon Ward makes this point in an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. The so-called Delaware Loophole, she writes, costs Pennsylvania taxpayers $500 million a year. We lose another $200 million a year by not having a natural gas drilling tax — a levy every major energy-producing state has to compensate residents for the loss of a non-renewable resource.

"Lawmakers have a choice," Ward writes. "If they choose to keep costly loopholes for the well-connected, the rest of us will pay more — in higher property taxes, higher college tuition and a weakened economy."

You can read the full op-ed here.

This information provided by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

VOTER REGISTRATION ENDS APRIL 18TH

The final day to register to vote in the Primary Election is quickly approaching! Voters must register by Monday, April 18th, 2011 in order to vote in this important primary election for Mayor, City Council, and other city officials. Primary Election Day for Democrats and Republicans is Tuesday, May 17th, 2011. Polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

This information was provided to us by Vote for Homes.

JOIN PHAN’S CALL SERIES ON TUESDAY NIGHTS FROM 6:00-7:00 PM

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network is constantly tracking what's happening in Harrisburg and DC and can give you the latest information.

This Tuesday, April 19th, the Reverend Sally Jo Snyder, an expert on disability issues will lead a frank discussion on what the new health law does and doesn't do for people with disabilities. To join the call, RSVP here!

Reverend Snyder is currently the Director of Advocacy and Consumer Engagement at Consumer Health Coalition in Pittsburgh. Through her work there she created the very successful "I Am Your Neighbor" program which advocates for rights, resources, room and respect for persons with disabilities. She has also served on the previous Governor's Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities and was the regional director for Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Contact Athena with questions at aford@pahealthaccess.org

UPCOMING BUDGET EVENTS

As we brace ourselves for a Pennsylvania House budget that is likely to slash human services, we need to speak out against the cuts- the only approach that puts all of us at risk.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition has some big events this season where numbers will matter. They are listed below, with links to RSVP.

If you are bringing numbers and would like a speaker from your organization, please let Kate Atkins at the Pennsylvania Budget and
Policy Center know ASAP.

MontCo Rally Against the Budget Cuts
Thurs, April 21 at 3PM
MontCo County Courthouse, 2 E. Airy St (at Swede St), Norristown, 19401
RSVP to http://montcobudgetrally.eventbrite.com or call (215) 563-5848 x 16

Statewide Budget Rally and Lobby Day, Harrisburg, PA
(with the CLEAR Coalition of labor unions)
Tuesday, May 3, Harrisburg. Activities start at 11am.
Buses and lunches provided for those who register, while supplies last.
REGISTER SOON, THE BUSSES ARE FILLING UP!

Register online at www.clearforpa.com

PARTICIPATE IN REGIONAL FORUMS ON EDUCATION BUDGET WITH EDUCATION SECRETARY RON TOMALIS

Over the next two weeks, starting Friday, April 15 in Harrisburg, the Team Pennsylvania Foundation is sponsoring a series of forums with Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis. Secretary Tomalis will meet with leaders from across the state to discuss the 2011-12 education budget and what it means for the commonwealth.

You can learn more and register for the forums on the Team PA website. This is an important opportunity to have your voice heard.

Details on the events are below:

Lehigh Valley
Date: April 19
Time: 9:30 – 11:30a.m.
Location: Computer Aid Inc. - 1390 Ridgeview Drive, Allentown

Northeast
Date: April 19
Time: 2:00 – 4:00p.m.
Location: Scranton Chamber of Commerce - 222 Mulberry Street, Scranton

Northwest
Date: April 28
Time: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: H.O. Hirt Auditorium - 160 East Front Street, Erie

Southwest
Date: April 29
Time: 10:00 – 12:00 noon
Location: Bayer USA Foundation, Freddies (Building #6) - 100 Bayer Road, Pittsburgh

WEBINAR: TALKING TAXES & ECONOMIC SECURITY

How do Americans really feel about taxes? How can you use good messaging to discuss revenue building as a part of the dialogue on budgets? Just in time for tax season, Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) is hosting a webinar, Talking Taxes and Economic Security, on Wednesday, April 20 at 3pm EST/2pm CST/1pm MST/12 noon PST.

Participants will hear from national and state communications and policy experts:
• Donna Cooper, Center for American Progress
• Louisa Warren, North Carolina Justice Center and Together NC
• Andy McDonald, BerlinRosen Public Affairs

This is the second in a series of Building Bridges to Economic Security webinar trainings. Space is limited, so register now!

Questions? Contact kstellrecht@wowonline.org

This information provided by our friends at Wider Opportunities for Women.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT POLICY & PRACTICE LECTURE

Join CLASP on May 9th for an event on how workforce policy and programs can best contribute to economic growth, community renewal and individuals' economic mobility.

Confirmed Speakers:
  • Ray Marshall, U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Carter Administration
  • William E. Brock, U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Reagan Administration
  • Steven Gunderson, Republican Congressman from Wisconsin 1980-1996
  • Kitty Higgins, Deputy Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration
  • Roberts T. Jones, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training in the Reagan and Bush Administrations

This is an especially strategic time for a bi-partisan discussion on how workforce policy and programs can best contribute to economic growth, community renewal and individuals’ economic mobility. Today, as we emerge from recession, U.S. workers and businesses face daunting challenges that require a strong workforce system. We will need to assure that all segments of our ever more diverse workforce are prepared for an innovation and skill-based economy. The pending reauthorizations of workforce-related programs provide an opportunity to address these challenges. Yet, despite a history of bi-partisan support in Washington and in the states for employment, training and workforce education programs, constrained resources threaten their very existence.

The symposium will be held May 9, 2011 from 3:00-4:30 PM at the Dirksen Senate Office Building SD-562, Washington, D.C. 

For more information, visit the CLASP website.


 Special PathWays PA Information/Events

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO GET TAXES IN ON TIME: FREE TAX PREPARATION

PathWays PA offers FREE certified tax preparation at our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout Philadelphia and Delaware counties. Free tax preparation is for taxpayers with an annual gross household income less than $50,000.

Keep your full refund and save your money:
• No tax preparation fees
• No E-filing Fees
• No check cashing fees
• Open a no-fee savings or prepaid debit card account
• Purchase a risk free US Saving Bond
• Find out it you’re eligible for SNAP (food stamps)

Taxpayers must being all necessary identification and required tax statement for taxpayer, spouse, and dependents.

Locations:
Philadelphia County – 3617 Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia PA
Delaware County – 310 Amosland Road, Holmes PA

Call 610-543-5022 or 1-800-209-2914 to schedule your FREE tax appointment today!

PROJECT PEACE FOR TEENAGERS

Do you need help with education, childcare, welfare benefits, parenting or support? We can help!
The Project Peace Teen Parent Program provides one-on-one support for pregnant adolescents and teen parents.

Project Peace services are available at the MacDade Goodwill Store, 2137 MacDade Boulevard, Holmes PA, from Tuesdays from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Services provided will help you:
  • Complete high school and plan for higher education
  • Become a better parent
  • Obtain appropriate community resources, such as childcare, supportive services, Temporary Assistance for Needy Parents (TANF), life skills training and employment
  • Get in home support
For more information call 610-543-5022 or visit www.pathwayspa.org.

PATH$ TO BENEFITS

The PathWays PA Path$ 2 Benefits program provides access to counseling and workshops on banking and budgeting assistance, credit and debt management counseling, identity theft repair, financial goal planning, financial crisis management, college planning, housing assistance, and free tax preparation. Clients can also be screened for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and many other services. Even unemployed and dislocated workers can take part in programs that improve their credit without costing money.

For more information, please call 610-543-5022 or email financialpaths@pathwayspa.org.

FINANCIAL PATH$

Financial Path$, a new program from PathWays PA, helps individuals and families build paths toward economic self-sufficiency through financial education, asset building and economic empowerment. This program provides one-on-one financial counseling and financial education workshops. Financial Path$ is committed to assisting everyone carve their path to self-sufficiency.

If you or your clients would be interested in learning more about this program please contact wrahemtulla@pathwayspa.org.

For more information become Financial Path$ friend on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Stay turned as we will also be launching a blog very soon!

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