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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Temporary Unemployment Compensation Funding Passage

UnemploymentAs you may remember, in late 2016, the Pennsylvania Senate Republicans failed to pass House Bill 2375 which would have transferred $57.5 million and extended the funding deadline for the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund.  This special account was used to cover personnel and computer costs associated with providing services to unemployed residents.  Because of the inaction, 499 Labor and Industry (L&I) employees were furloughed and three call centers were closed.  This resulted in services to the state’s jobless drastically declining as the backlogs of benefit claims quickly piled up, delaying the claims being processed and paid, not to mention call wait times lasting for hours and long lines at CareerLink centers. 

Act 1, which passed both chambers and was signed into law by the governor on April 24, will offer a temporary fix by providing L&I with $15 million to rehire some laid-off workers to help alleviate the wait time for claims and the payments of jobless benefits.  Additional accountability provisions were also included in the new law to prevent a situation like this from happening again in the future like maintaining a separate audit account of the Unemployment Compensation Service and Infrastructure Fund. 

Another requirement is that L&I must provide the General Assembly with information on how the department is using the unemployment compensation funding it receives and how they plan on eventually eliminating the need for additional transfers of funding in the future.  Act 1 also mandates an update on the progress on the technological upgrades to the unemployment benefit delivery system and prior to any closure of unemployment call centers, a report be submitted to the chairs of the House and Senate Labor Committees.

The $15 million will be dispensed so that operations can continue for about nine months, but it is uncertain how many L&I employees will be rehired or how many call centers will reopen. 

In the meantime, the Legislature is awaiting a report from state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, whose office is in the finishing stages of an audit of the past four years’ funding for the unemployment compensation system. The audit is expected to be released by early May. 

It’s a shame that it has taken more than four months to pass this temporary fix and that so many unemployed residents have had to endure the negative consequences as the Legislature tries to work out an agreement.  My hopes are that the audit is released soon and that it can provide the General Assembly with answers and solutions on how to address the problems so that a long-term fix can be established for the state’s unemployment compensation beneficiaries. 

Tax Amnesty Program

PA Tax Amnesty PA Tax Amnesty Program I want to remind everyone again of the Pennsylvania Tax Amnesty program. This program was authorized by Act 84 of 2016.  The PA Tax Amnesty program represents a limited opportunity for individuals and businesses to pay past-due taxes with all penalties and half of the interest waived.  The program opened on April 21 and will close on June 19.

Individuals and businesses with unfiled or unpaid Pennsylvania taxes due as of the end of 2015 are generally eligible for the Tax Amnesty program.  Delinquent taxpayers known to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue will receive a written notice by mail informing them of tax delinquencies and the availability of the PA Tax Amnesty program.  Those who are eligible but do not take advantage of the Tax Amnesty program will receive a five percent penalty on amnesty eligible liabilities that remain unpaid after June 19.

While tax amnesty is an incentive for individuals who are delinquent on their taxes to pay immediately, they will still pay more than if they paid their taxes on time.

There are currently 862,598 taxpayers eligible for the program with more than 680,000 from Pennsylvania.  There are nearly 60,000 delinquent taxpayers in Allegheny County.

Anyone interested in applying or learning more can call 1-844-PA-STATE-TAX (1-844-727-8283).  You can also apply online at www.backtax.pa.gov and click on the “Apply Now” tab.  Applications must be submitted by June 19.

Did You Know…

Did you know that over 65 percent of back taxes are corporation tax, employer withholding tax, and sales tax?

21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program is now open.  The 21st CCLC Grant is a competitive grant that provides federal funding to establish community learning centers that provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for students and their families.  These opportunities must occur during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session to help students attending high-poverty and low-performing schools to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects.  Centers must also offer students a broad array of activities that can complement their regular academic programs, to offer literacy and other educational services to their families.

The 21st CCLC Grant is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and provides funding for the establishment of community learning centers to provide students with academic enrichment opportunities.  In addition to academics, 21st CCLC grantees may also use the funds to carry out a broad array of activities that advance student academic achievement and support student success, including before and after school, summer, Saturdays and holiday programming.  A minimum of 50 percent of daily programming must directly target reading, math, and science enrichment with the balance of activities occurring on a rotational basis.

Organizations interested in applying for funding must notify PDE in writing of their intent to apply.  Letters of intent to apply can be emailed to Susan D’Annunzio at sdannunzio@pa.gov and must be received by this Thursday, May 4.  More information on this program, including the application process, can be found visiting www.education.pa.gov and entering the keyword 21st CCLC in the “Search” tab and then clicking on the link.

Upcoming Shredding Event

shreddingOn Saturday, May 13, along with Rep. Deasy and Green Tree Borough, we are hosting a shredding event in Green Tree Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.  Documents will be shredded on-site by a reputable and bonded company.  Also, all papers must be loose, no binder clips, and documents cannot be in binders.

With consumer fraud and identity theft continuing to be an issue, we are hosting this event, along with an earlier event in Crafton, to not only to raise awareness and promote prevention, but also to provide individuals with the opportunity to have unneeded, confidential documents destroyed free of charge.  You may bring documents that contain personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers. 

Absentee Ballots

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the May 16 Primary Election is Tuesday, May 9.  All completed ballot applications must be received by the Allegheny County Division of Elections Office no later than 5 p.m.  Completed voted ballots are then due in the Elections Office by 5 p.m. on May 12.  The Elections Office is located in the County Office Building at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Ross Street in downtown Pittsburgh:

            542 Forbes Avenue, Room 601
             Pittsburgh, PA  15219

Due to changes in service by the U.S. Postal Service, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes is encouraging anyone needing to request an absentee ballot to do so prior to May 9, to allow enough time ensuring the deadline is not missed.

Vote PA Voter Registration You may apply for an absentee ballot in person at the above address.  You may also visit any of my district offices to receive an absentee ballot application or you can go to the Resource Center page at www.votespa.com to download one.

If you have any questions or need any additional information, please call the Allegheny County Division of Elections Office at 412-350-4520.

Career Fair in Bellevue

Career Development Center Career Development Center The Career Development Center, a program of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service, is hosting a career fair on Thursday, May 11 from 9 a.m. – noon.  The career fair is being held at the Knights of Columbus, located at 450 Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue Borough.  More than 15 employers, including some of the largest in the region, will be present.

For more information and to register, please call Tanya Bashor at 412-586-3728 or visit www.cdcpgh.org.

29th Annual Family Fun Run/Walk for Epilepsy

EFWPThe Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central Pennsylvania is hosting the 29th annual Family Fun Run/Walk for Epilepsy on Saturday, June 19 at PNC Park.  This family friendly 5K run/2 mile walk around the North Shore is a great way to raise funds and awareness for those with epilepsy/seizure disorders.  Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the run/walk starting at 9:30 a.m.  Immediately following the run/walk will be a tailgate party on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

All proceeds from the event will stay in the region to provide well-needed programs and supportive services for children, families, and adults with epilepsy/seizure disorders.  To learn more about the Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central Pennsylvania or to register for the Family Fun Run/Walk, please visit www.efwp.org or call 412-322-5880.

Northside Sandwich WeekNorthside Sandwich Week

The 6th annual Northside Sandwich Week is scheduled from May 18 – 28.  The annual event celebrates the best sandwiches in restaurants and pubs.  Look for the Sandwich Week banners to identify participating establishments.

Kicking off Northside Sandwich Week on May 18 is the Northside Sandwich Sampler where attendees can sample all the sandwiches beginning at 1 p.m. at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory, located at 614 Pressley Street.  This year’s Sandwich Sampler will feature complimentary onion rings provided by the Priory Grand Hall Kitchen and a Beer Garden with beer from local breweries.

Also, taking place during Northside Sandwich Week is the 3rd annual Le Tour de Sandwich, a short bike ride through the Northside with stops at participating Sandwich Week locations.

For more information on Northside Sandwich Week events and to purchase tickets, please visit sandwichweek.pittsburghnorthside.com

Ohio Valley Hospital 5K

Ohio Valley HospitalThe 36th annual Ohio Valley Hospital & Kennedy Township 5K is scheduled for Saturday, May 13.  The race kicks off at 8 a.m. from the Ohio Valley Hospital’s front door, located at 25 Heckel Road in Kennedy Township.  The course winds through the hills of Kennedy Township, where volunteers, family, and friends will be cheering on participants along the way, alongside a DJ who plays runners and walkers off onto the course. An after-party will feature a continental breakfast and an awards ceremony.

For more information on how to register please contact Kati Campbell at 412-777-6313 or kcampbell@ohiovalleyhospital.org.

Kentucky DerbyFontana Fact

This Saturday is the 143rd Kentucky Derby, one of the world’s most famous horse races.  Since its first race in 1875, only two horses bred in Pennsylvania have won the Derby.  Lil E. Tee won the Derby in 1992, becoming the first Pennsylvania-bred to win, and in 2004 Smarty Jones captured first place.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol | Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza
524 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
By Appointment
Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library | Allegheny Branch
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
By Appointment
Northside Sandwich Week Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central Pennsylvania