Senator Fontana appears with Rose Cceberio and her grand-daughter Joycita Rose after presenting Rose with a Senate Citation, honoring her achievement of being named the 2012 Brawny Great American Worker by Georgia Pacific at a ceremony at the Heinz History Center on December 10th. Rose, a Brookline resident, was selected this year’s winner after a nationwide search by Georgia-Pacific.
Bringing Voter ID Services into Communities
I have written many times over the last several months of the need for the Administration to make the process of obtaining a voter ID more simple and convenient for voters who lack photo identification and wish to vote. Since the Commonwealth Court issued an injunction requiring a stay in the implementation of the Voter ID law for the November general election, there has been ample time to consider how to improve the process by which voters lacking an acceptable photo ID under the law can obtain the appropriate credentials. Regardless of your position on the photo ID requirement spelled out in Act 18, if the law is ultimately going to take effect, our Commonwealth should be making the process of obtaining a photo ID more convenient.
Over the last several months, I repeatedly asked the Administration to authorize all state offices, including 253 elected officials’ offices, as neighborhood centers, where voters could go to secure a photo ID needed in order to vote. My request was denied. I then requested that our offices should at least have the ability to serve as intermediaries, providing the necessary forms, copying proofs of residency, taking photos, and sending all the information to PennDOT. PennDOT would then have the ability to verify these documents and once verified, make the photo ID card and mail it directly to the voter. This too was denied.
In the event the Court ultimately allows Act 18 to take full effect for the spring primary election and beyond, now is the time where we should be working together to ensure that any voter who needs a photo ID has an opportunity to get one. You can click here to read the letter I sent to the Governor and Secretary of State on December 6th, asking them to reconsider their position and work with me toward guaranteeing that all Pennsylvanians have a right to vote.
2012-13 Mid-Year Budget Report
Last week, the state’s budget secretary provided a mid-year budget update and spoke about Pennsylvania’s current fiscal situation. This mid-year briefing also foreshadows what to expect when Governor Corbett outlines the proposed 2013-14 budget in February. By the sounds of it, Pennsylvanians and the programs our state supports should expect an even grimmer upcoming fiscal year.
At the half-way point of fiscal year 2012-13, the state’s revenue is $59.1 million above estimates. The Administration believes that by the end of the fiscal year in June of 2013, our state will experience a 3 percent growth in revenue making an end-of-the-year balance of $478 million. On the other hand, the news isn’t very promising according to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office which only estimates a .8 percent growth for 2013-14. If this is true, that would mean several hundred million dollars less in revenue for the Commonwealth.
Regardless of revenue estimates, Pennsylvania’s budget secretary was quoted saying last week “I think, in many respects, the 13’-14’ budget is going to be the most difficult budget that we’ve had thus far in what have been two very difficult budgets.” Since Governor Corbett took office two years ago, we have seen historical budget cuts across the board especially in such areas as education, safety net programs and economic investment programs. In fact, the Governor has prided himself on the elimination of over 70 line items in the General Fund and more than 200 individual line item cuts. Yet, at the same time, this Administration has given away hundreds of millions of dollars by expanding business tax cuts as well as low drilling impact fees in the Marcellus Shale region that have essentially contributed to the gap between revenue and expenditures. Isn’t it time that Governor Corbett realizes that the policies he has in place are not working?
Another significant sign that the Administration’s policies aren’t working is Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate. It was 8.1 percent in October, which exceeds the national rate of 7.9 percent. This is the first our state has been above the national unemployment average since the recession began with more than a half million Pennsylvanian workers without jobs. What is even more unsettling is that these numbers do not even factor in the 20,000 jobs lost in education during the 2011-12 school year.
While continuing with the Governor’s theme of cutting, one of the most important decisions he is facing right now is whether to expand Medicaid in Pennsylvania under the federal Affordable Care Act. If Governor Corbett would decide to expand this safety net, the federal government would be picking up the majority of the cost for the expansion. Yet, instead of focusing on health care for all Pennsylvanians, Governor Corbett is focusing on shipping the management of the Pennsylvania Lottery overseas and the likely elimination of the majority of its workforce even though the Lottery recently reported record sales and the highest profits in its 41-year history. The Governor continues to try to fix “problems” that are nonexistent, but turns a blind eye to the fact that our state’s economic situation is not getting better and predicted to get worse in the coming year.
At this mid-point in Pennsylvania’s fiscal year, the time is now for the Administration to reflect on the policies and agenda of the Governor and make some crucial changes before it’s too late. Our state needs to quit giving tax breaks to companies making million dollars in profits or to businesses that have not created the jobs they promised and use any extra year end revenue and invest it back into the state through actual job creating initiatives, education, programs for the poor and transportation.
Free Assistance with Securing a Job
The next installment of Skills for Success: The Fontana Series is moving to the Carnegie Library-downtown branch in January. These free workshops are scheduled for Monday, January 7th, Monday, January 14th and Wednesday, January 23rd, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. If you are currently looking for a job or if you need assistance with any aspect of the job searching process, these free workshops will serve as a great resource for you.
I was proud to partner with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) last year, providing grant funding for this free series aimed at building skills and creating excellent resumes and applications that aid job seekers in achieving the positions they desire. Whether you have already built a resume and are looking to fine-tune it, if you are starting from scratch and need help with organizing your work history, need assistance with searching for positions online, or require help in improving your interviewing skills, this free workshop will benefit you. I have heard directly from attendees of past sessions who have been able to find full-time work after putting to practice many of the lessons learned at the workshop.
Competition today for jobs is fierce and job seekers may need tools to improve their chances at securing employment. This series provides those tools by featuring two separate workshops: one focused on resumes and cover letters, and the other dedicated to interviews and networking. This series also features a career lab where attendees can work on online applications and explore library resources. Due to limited space, registration is required for workshops; however, walk-ins are welcome for the career labs.
The schedule for this next installment is listed below. To register for one of these free workshops, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-281-7141, ext. 2012.
CLP – Downtown branch
612 Smithfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Monday, January 7th – Resumes & Cover Letters
Monday, January 14th – Interviewing & Networking
Wednesday, January 23rd – Resumes & Cover Letters
Workshops, 9 – 11 a.m./Career Labs, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Reminder
If you have not filed for the PA Property Tax & Rent Rebate Program, I want to remind you the deadline of December 31st is fast approaching. If you are a Pennsylvanian age 65 and older, a person with a disability 18 and older, or a widow or widower age 50 and older, you may be eligible. Income limits are $35,000 for homeowners and $15,000 for renters. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can increase rebates to $975. You can stop by any one of my district offices to get a claim form (PA-1000), receive help in completing your application, and check the status of your claim.
You may also check the status of claims online by visiting the PA Department of Revenue website or call 1-888-PATAXES. The program is supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.
PA Farm Show Earns International Acclaim
The Pennsylvania Farm Show recently received top honors from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) for its commitment to agricultural competition and consumer education at the 2012 PA Farm Show. The IAFE recognized the Show’s Today’s Agriculture exhibit with the prestigious judge’s choice award.
The exhibit featured a full-size barn with livestock in modern production agriculture settings. It also included fields of living corn and soybean crops and simulated planting and harvesting with the latest in farm machinery and conservation practices. Livestock experts manning the exhibit answered consumer questions and shared information about raising the animals. The display was supported by the PA Alliance for Animal Care and Well-Being, PennAG Industries Association and FFA chapters. The PA Farm Show also received awards in several photo categories and for the 2012 Farm Show Souvenir Book.
The PA Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the country, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits, and 300 commercial exhibitors. The 2013 PA Farm Show begins January 5th and runs through January 12th at the PA Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission to the Farm Show is free. For more information, please visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.
“Great American Worker” Resides in Brookline
Congratulations to Rose Cceberio on being named the 2012 Brawny Great American Worker by Georgia-Pacific. The company conducted a national search for this year’s “Great American Worker” and received nominations from all across the country. Among all the nominations, Georgia-Pacific selected 10 finalists with the public then voting on a winner.
The “Great American Worker” is someone who combines a history on workplace safety and productivity with a commitment to community involvement. Rose, a resident of Brookline, has worked in nursing for over 25 years and currently works as a private duty nurse in Pittsburgh while pursuing a master’s degree in nursing education. I commend Rose for being named the 2012 Brawny Great American Worker, for her extraordinary work, effort and commitment she has displayed to her employer and the community. I also applaud Georgia-Pacific for honoring great workers everywhere with this award. Congratulations Rose!
You can read more about Rose in a Pittsburgh Tribune Review article that was published on December 11th.
Honoring the “Immaculate Reception”
The Heinz History Center will be paying tribute to one of the greatest sports moments of all-time, the “Immaculate Reception” on December 22nd at noon. “Immaculate Reception Memories” will feature the screening of a new NFL Films documentary, along with appearances by members of the 1972 Pittsburgh Steelers, including Franco Harris, John “Frenchy” Fuqua, Andy Russell, Rocky Bleier, and Mike Wagner. The next day, December 23rd, will mark the 40th anniversary of the NFL’s most memorable moments and arguably one of the greatest sports moments in the city of Pittsburgh’s rich history. A limited number of tickets for this exciting event are available. For more information on this, and other History Center events and exhibits, please visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org.
Did You Know…
Did you know that NFL rules prevented the Steelers-Raiders 1972 playoff game from being televised live in the Pittsburgh area? A crowd of 50,327 at Three Rivers Stadium were the only people in Pittsburgh on December 23, 1972 to see the “Immaculate Reception” live.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is once again producing First Night Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve with festivities beginning at 6 p.m. This family-friendly event provides the city the opportunity to ring in the New Year with a bang while celebrating Pittsburgh’s rich cultural assets including dance, music, theater, comedy, magic, visual art and film. First Night Pittsburgh features over 100 activities for children and adults of all ages in more than 45 venues throughout Pittsburgh’s world class Cultural District.
First Night Pittsburgh also features a fireworks show for children at 6 p.m. with a performance by Adam Brock & The Soul Band at Seventh Street and Penn Avenue. The parade begins at 8 p.m. and the evening will conclude with a performance by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Countdown to Midnight and the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale.
These are a few of the many events taking place during First Night. For a full schedule of events, information on all-access admission buttons and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.firstnightpgh.org.
Construction on the Corliss Street Tunnel began on December 15, 1913 and was completed on December 31, 1914. This 420-foot tunnel which has also been called the “Archway to Sheraden” provides an entry point from West Carson Street to west end neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216