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This past Thursday, the Senator participated in the ribbon cutting for the new Convention Center Riverfront Plaza. From left to right are SEA Board Member Mike Dunleavy, Pittsburgh Councilwoman Darlene Harris, Senator Fontana, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, SEA Treasurer Anthony Ross, SEA Secretary Edie Shapira and SEA Executive Director Mary Conturo.

Today Is Election Day

Polls for the Primary Election are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., so make sure you get out and vote if you haven’t already done so. For information about your rights as a voter, where to vote, and what to expect when you arrive at your polling place, visit VotesPA.com. If you are voting in a precinct for the first time, you will be required to show identification.

Budget Update

As I noted last week, the House Republicans amended the budget bill (House Bill 1485) last week to replace it with their own version. While less was cut from education than the governor had proposed, the money to do so was taken by cutting money from the Department of Public Welfare – and rather than hurt the freeloaders that their caucus has talked about so frequently, the budget would harm victims of rape and domestic abuse, people with disabilities, children, elderly and the poor.

Did You Know…

That non-profits in the Pittsburgh region employ nearly 25 times more workers than the region’s utilities, nearly 6 times as many as the transportation industry, 3 times as many as the manufacturing sector, and 3 times as many as the construction industry? On average, more than 4 of every 5 dollars support program expenses. The 2,674 financially-active nonprofits operating in metro Pittsburgh spend about $16.7 billion annually on the well-being of the region (not including health insurance carriers).

In addition to the expected cuts to general operations in the Department, the House Republican also made significant cuts to specific programs including reductions of $2.3 million to county assistance offices and $1.8 million to county child welfare, $4.3 million to mental health services, $315.6 million to long-term care, $2.7 million for autism intervention and services, $15.9 million for child care services and $22.1 million for child care assistance, $1.1 million for domestic violence services, $638,000 for rape crisis centers, and $2.1 million in homeless assistance. Services to persons with disabilities are totally eliminated ($135.7 million) in this budget and attendant care is reduced by $103.5 million. Ironically, in their press release, the Republican House members note that this budget “continues needed support for those residents who truly need that safety net.”

In Pittsburgh last week, the Pittsburgh Foundation and the United Way of Allegheny County launched a statewide campaign and website that rallies human service agencies against proposed state budget grants. The Why Campaign and its website, whycutwhatworks.org, will allow local groups to tell the public how their work protects the public and saves money Why cut what works WHY in the long run. The organizations and local nonprofit groups will rally at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday in Market Square.

This campaign asks and answers the question that Senate Democrats posed when we launched our PA Works campaign in February. Those initiatives relied exclusively on increased use of existing funding sources, used creative approaches to leverage federal and private resources, and promoted cost effective approaches that maintained successful programs already in place. Quite simply, we said that we must identify what works and find the necessary resources to sustain those programs. Our non-profit sector does a great job of holding the line on their costs while providing imperative services to low-income families, people with disabilities, children and others in need in our community.

Youth Civic Leadership Academy

Youth Civic Leadership AcademyHigh school students interested in learning more about how local government operates should apply for a free six-week summer course offered by the City of Pittsburgh. Applications for the City’s Youth Civic Leadership Academy are due next Wednesday, May 25th. This is the first year the program is being offered to youth. Classes will be held once a week beginning July 6th, and will include tours, demonstrations and hands-on activities involving city government.

Applicants must be in high school (9th – 12th grade) residing within Pittsburgh City limits at the time of application. Visit the City of Pittsburgh’s website for instructions and to download an application. You may also call 412-255-4765 for more information.

Around the District

This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of having a young man by the name of Charlie shadow me in Harrisburg as part of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Charlie is a 4th grader in Riverlife Harrisburg and wants to be a teacher or a policeman when he grows up. When asked if he’d like to be a legislator, he responded with “Maybe – Maybe Not.”

There were several meetings on Tuesday, in addition to session and some votes on issues that have garnered a great deal of interest with my constituents. Riverlife shared with me their plans moving forward and their American Council of Engineers successes to date in our community. Representatives of the American Council of Engineers were also in with visitors from the district to talk about the need to address transportation infrastructure.

On Wednesday, the Law & Justice Committee continued its active schedule of hearings as we heard from individuals concerns with the PA Instant Check System. Also, on Wednesday evening, I was well represented by my staff at the Brentwood Business Owners Association (BBOA) where Senate citations were presented to Dr. Alexander Lese, founder of the BBOA, and Lauren Healy, a senior at Brentwood High School.

Green Building AllianceBack in the district on Thursday, I had the opportunity to hear from the Green Building Alliance who recently completed a case study and analysis of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center’s green features, performance and operations and also made recommendations for future improvements. At 11:30 a.m., I also had the honor of acting as emcee for the ribbon cutting of the Convention Center Riverfront Park. As you know, Riverfront parks and trails are also about building connections. The Convention Center Riverfront Plaza is part of that effort – now there is a continuous pedestrian and bicycle riverfront trail from Point State Park to the Strip District, part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

Fontana Fact

Bayer CorporationBayer Corporation, which provides healthcare and chemical products and services, is headquartered in Allegheny County. The company employs 1,500 people at its Robinson Township campus. The campus features a 40-acre wildlife habitat, certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council.

 

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

 
Vote Pa Bayer Green Building Alliance Youth Civic Leadership Academy