Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Food News

Grocery bag of healthy foodsThe Coalition Against Hunger conducted their biennial Emergency Food Provider Survey of 232 programs in Greater Philadelphia this year in order to learn more about the challenges that local providers face and found that 89.7% of emergency food providers either ran out of food or had to provide less food to clients at some point in 2014. Surveyed programs cited "lack of food donations" as a major barrier to getting more food. Over 90% of the emergency food providers surveyed also wanted to increase access to healthy foods for their clients.

You can help by donating to your local food pantry. Food pantries, SHARE host sites and soup kitchens near you can be found by clicking here.

Summer Meals, a program in Philadelphia that serves free meals and snacks to kids and teens age 18 and under, has over 1,000 site locations. There are no income, ID or registration requirements. Click here to find a Summer Meals site near you.

As always, PathWays PA offers free and confidential help to families applying for SNAP benefits/food stamps. To participate in an eligibility screening for SNAP benefits and other workforce supports, you can contact Lauren Rodino at (610) 543-5022.

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So What Did the Doctor Find Out about American Democracy?

The Health of State Democracies, a Center for American Progress Action Fund report ranking all 50 states and our nation's capitol across 22 factors categorized in 'accessibility of the ballot', 'representation in state government', and 'influence in the political system', was released today.

According to the report, Pennsylvania is 43rd out of 51. Said another way, Pennsylvania ranks among the bottom 10 states.

The report determined that access to voting in Pennsylvania was an F (44th place). Among other notable findings, Pennsylvania does not allow online voter registration, nor can 16-17 year olds preregister to vote and be automatically added to the voting rolls when they reach voting age - an implementation measure that was shown to increase young voter turnout by 8-13 percent

Pennsylvania was given a C for representation in state government. In addition to districts that have been drawn to favor political parties, the report found that females and communities of color were not fully represented among elected officials.

Lastly, Pennsylvania scored another F for influence in the political system, largely due to the state's campaign policies. The state has no campaign contribution limit for individual donors and no public campaign financing - two factors that present a roadblock to political equality and fair representation of constituents, as well as public confidence in government.

Of course, no matter their rank, each state has areas for improvement. As a nation, the report found that nearly every state must do more to address disproportionate representation, remove structural barriers to full participation, and mitigate the influence of money in the political system. You can click here for the report's in-depth policy recommendations for the entire nation.

After reading this report, please take the time to reach out to your legislators and make sure that they know that Pennsylvanians care about policy changes that truly will assure justice for all.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Veto Isn't the End: Update on the State Budget

Governor Wolf cropped 2015Gov. Tom Wolf, along with legislative leaders and aides from both parties, met yesterday on July 1st to reaffirm a mutual commitment to agree on a General Fund budget despite remaining far apart on numbers.

The governor's veto of the Republican budget bill on Tuesday evening left vendors and human service organizations to start Pennsylvania's new fiscal year without needed state funds. Gov. Wolf said of the pension reform, liquor privatization, and a no-tax increase $30.2 billion budget, "The math doesn't work, it doesn't address the challenges Pennsylvania faces."

The parties involved decided that substantive budget negotiations between the governor and state legislative leaders would begin after the 4th of July holiday. Until then, preparations would be made.

Please look over the budget proposals here and take a moment to call your legislators and let them know what you think!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Pennsylvania Budget is Moving Forward, But...

Over the weekend, Pennsylvania legislators remained in session so they could work on the state budget, which is due June 30. The current budget vehicle has passed the House and is now in the Senate. That being said, Governor Wolf is prepared to veto the budget if it arrives on his desk in its current form, which would send negotiations into overtime.

The proposed budget presents a sharp contrast to the Governor's budget, which relies on new revenue including a gas severance tax, an increased personal income tax and increased sales tax. The budget making its way through the Senate, by contrast, shows new revenue from privatizing state wine and liquor businesses and by moving some payments into FY17.

Below are some of the line-items in the budget and how they compare between the Governor's and Legislature's proposals. You can learn more at http://pennbpc.org and http://www.pennlive.com/pennsylvania-budget. You can also see factsheets comparing the budgets by district at https://pennbpc.org/RepublicanBudget1516.

Please look over these budgets and take a moment to call your legislators and let them know what you think!

Supporting the Industry Partnership Program

One of the best public/private partnerships, Industry Partnerships for Workforce Training, help ensure Pennsylvania's industries and workers have the necessary skills to compete in the global economy.

Industry Partnerships (IPs) are coordinated efforts between the state, industries, and local workforce investment boards that target the needs of regional industry clusters. The role of IPs is to identify skill gaps and other workforce needs of the targeted industry sector and to oversee the design and delivery of services to meet those needs. IPs aim to improve job quality by educating workers in skills that pay well and are in short supply, by helping managers learn from each other in adopting competitive human resource practices that improve job quality and career advancement, and by launching training and career initiatives. Since 2005, more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians have participated in Pennsylvania's well-regarded IP programs.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Healthcare Alliance (SEPHA), managed by PathWays PA has trained over 1,000 Pennsylvania workers since the inception of the Industry Partnership program. In this year alone, we are on track to train over 150 workers, Because of this work, local clinical workers can better meet the growing need to properly care for patients suffering from dementia, and occupational therapists can now use the latest technology in their field. Workers have earned the certifications and skills required to advance in their careers. This year’s trainings were conducted at an average cost of $484 per student.

In our economy, business needs are always changing. Industry Partnerships help Pennsylvania’s workforce stay educated, successful and ready to work in needed sectors. Please ask your legislators to consider more funding so that our economy can continue to benefit from this needed program.

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