It's About the Jobs!
Although July’s unemployment numbers are not yet out as I write this, the rate was up last month for Pennsylvania although it still remains below the national average. As I have written before, Pittsburgh’s numbers remain slightly better and I believe it is because there are certain things that our region does very well when it comes to job growth. The Pittsburgh region understands the importance of small business in stimulating the economy and creating jobs. The region knows what resources and programs are crucial to job growth and it focuses on those sectors that perform well.
Quite frankly, it’s a priority here and one that needs to be applied to Harrisburg as well. There are many issues that are on the agenda of leadership in Harrisburg for our fall session. For each and every one of them, we should be looking at the proposals and recommendations through a job “lens” and if there is not a jobs component to the piece, we need to look at whether there should be one. This applies to transportation funding, a Marcellus shale impact fee and privatization of the liquor stores – to name just a few.
The Governor has talked about his desire to make Pennsylvania competitive and has on multiple occasions declared that PA is Open for Business. Unfortunately, the budget that was enacted this summer is centered around drastic cuts in education and public welfare and doesn’t properly address the need to create jobs. Even though the Governor has said that focusing on what works is also his priority, none of the bills in the PA Works package were considered as part of this budget.
I have talked about the PA Works package before, in quite some detail, and still believe that the initiative could have a substantial impact on the creation of jobs and would also encourage investment in the Commonwealth. Small businesses would have more opportunity to expand and flourish through an increase of available loans through the Small Business First Fund and a loan guarantee program could give those same small businesses greater access to much-needed capital. Job training programs and the funding of dislocated worker programs that lead to permanent employment are an important part of this initiative – and address a rising issue for those individuals who are considered long-term unemployed.
I hope that I have shown my commitment to focusing on economic development and jobs to you through my actions and words. It’s time that the entire General Assembly re-focuses its priorities and makes our constituents our number one concern. It is their health, safety and welfare that should be our focus – and doing what we can to get as many of our residents back to work, whether by encouraging investment in our Commonwealth or providing residents with the tools that they need to be competitive in the job market. I pledge to you that I will continue to work to that end and look forward to working together with you to make those opportunities realities.
Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Report
The July 26th edition of my News & Views contained information gained from media reports about the content of and recommendations contained in the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission report. The final report was delivered to the Governor on August 1st. The report and related information can be found at www.tfac.pa.gov/. As I noted then, I will be reviewing this report in great detail, discussing it within our caucus, and also taking the time to talk with local officials to gauge the effect some of these proposals will have on local priorities, particularly mass transit. I look forward to, and encourage, your input on the report as well.
Drought Watches & Warnings
This past week, the Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought warning for four PA counties and a drought watch for 40 other counties – including Allegheny County. What does that mean to you? A drought watch is the least severe of the three drought classifications, but it calls for a voluntary 5% reduction in non-essential water use and notifies large water consumers to start planning for possible reductions in water supplies.
Individuals can take a number of measures around their home to conserve water, in the short-term:
- Take short showers instead of baths
- Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads
- Keep water in the refrigerator to avoid running water from a faucet until it’s cold
- Check for household leaks
And the long-term:
- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets
- Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use 30% less water and 40-50% less energy
Staying Healthy in the Heat
The high temperatures and humidity are not only affecting our environment, but also our health. Take precautions during this weather to minimize the dangers from excessive heat:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing
- Stay in an air-conditioned setting, if possible
- Minimize time spent outdoors and stay out of the sun whenever possible
- Move to a cool area and seek medical attention if symptoms of heat stroke or exhaustion develop
Make sure you check in on relatives and neighbors who may be susceptible to heat-related conditions. Don’t forget your pets, either. Make sure animals have access to shaded and well-ventilated areas with sufficient amounts of water.
New Law Protects PACE/PACENET Recipients
If you received a small Social Security cost of living increase (COLA) that puts you over the income limit for participation in the PACE/PACENET programs, you can still retain these benefits thanks to Act 21, a new law passed by the Senate in June. Act 21 provides that if the Social Security COLA is the only change in income that puts a recipient over the income threshold, that it will not be counted toward their income. Without the change, about 9,000 people receiving PACENET would have lost their benefits, while an estimated 21,000 PACE enrollees would have had to move to PACENET, making them responsible for higher co-pays.
If you believe that you may be eligible for PACE or PACENET, please contact my office for an application and assistance.
National Alliance on Mental Illness - Free Education and Support Program
If you are the parent, sibling, child, significant other or relative of someone with a severe mental illness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southwestern Pennsylvania Family-to-Family Education Program can help. Family-to-Family is a free, 12-week education and support program that focuses on bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, co-occurring mental illness and addictive disorders, and borderline personality disorder.
The course discusses the clinical treatment of these illnesses and provides the information and skills family members need to cope with their situation. Specifically, participants will learn more about handling crises and relapses; communication techniques; stress reduction; medications; community services and support; and advocacy.
This program is offered twice a year. Evening classes begin Tuesday, August 30th at the Pittsburgh Baptist Church (3100 Pioneer Avenue, Dormont/Brookline). For additional locations and starting dates in Allegheny County, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness Southwestern Pennsylvania website. To register, call 412-366-3788.
Speaking of NAMI Southwestern PA, the organization is holding its 5th Annual Walk on Sunday, October 2nd. The 5K Walk will be held at SouthSide Works & Three Rivers Heritage Trail to raise awareness and dispel the myths associated with mental illness. The goal is to raise at least $150,000 to support mental illness advocacy, research, education and support programs. You can register as an individual or as a team on the NAMI Southwestern PA website. You may also call 412-366-3788 for more information.
Run Your Rox Off!
The Third Annual Run Your Rox Off 5K and 1 Mile Run/Walk will be held Friday, September 2nd. The event provides a day full of fun and festivities and a chance to give back to the community. Proceeds from the run/walk will benefit the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation, allowing the organization to continue its mission of economic revitalization of McKees Rocks as a means to a greater quality of life for the community. The event will also feature door prizes, food, awards and Rox the Music Kids Fest- a summer concert on the lawn after the race.
The event will be held at the Miles Bryan School on Chartiers and Wayne Avenues in McKees Rocks. For more information or to register, visit the McKees Rocks Borough website or call 412-331-9900. Each participant will receive an official race T-shirt and goodie bag, plus food and drink afterwards.
Did You Know…
One of the 12 finalists for the state’s 2012 Teacher of the Year award is a teacher in the Cornell School District. Steven Vayanos, a Spanish teacher, was nominated by Superintendent Donna Belas for the award, which annually recognizes the achievements of educators in and outside of the classroom. The winner will be announced later this year – and will be the state's nominee for National Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to Steven – and best of luck!
Around the District
Following is a list of just a few of the activities going on in the district this coming week. If you have an event that you’d like to have highlighted, please e-mail the details.
Wednesday, August 10th
||2nd Annual End-of-Summer Pool Party
Scott Township Pool
2600 Old Greentree Road, Carnegie
||Kennedy Township Community Days
||Bellevue Borough Concert in the Park
Featuring Groove Merchants
Sponsored by Allegheny General Hospital Suburban Campus
Thursday, August 11th
||Kennedy Township Community Days
Friday, August 12th
||Brookline Breeze Car Cruise
Brookline Recreation Center & Memorial Park
For More Info: 412-571-322 or firstname.lastname@example.org
||Kennedy Township Community Days
Saturday, August 13th
||Brookline Boulevard Breeze Fest
Sponsored by the Brookline Chamber of Commerce
For More Info: 412-563-0759 or email@example.com
||Friends of Brookline Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Book Sale
After 2 p.m. – Breeze-Fest Bag Sale for just $3
||African Arts in the Park
Point State Park, Downtown Pittsburgh
Presented by Umoja and Citiparks
For More Info: 412-471-1121
||Kennedy Township Community Days
Kennedy Township Fireworks & Fire Department Parade
||Robinson Township Glow in the Dark Party
Clever Park Pool
The first nationwide paramedic training course was developed at the University of Pittsburgh. The curriculum was created after Pitt received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1974. Dr. Nancy Caroline authored the 15 module curriculum, which would later be published as “Emergency Care in the Streets.”
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana