In this Edition:
Governor Needs to Explain Closure of Unemployment Compensation Call Centers
You may have seen the news recently regarding Governor Wolf’s decision to close a number of the state’s Unemployment Compensation Call Centers and furlough employees. While I respect the Governor, I do not agree with his decision to unilaterally close the centers and politicize the jobs of Commonwealth employees.
There has been an ongoing, years-long discussion about needed modernization of the Commonwealth’s unemployment compensation system, however, the Governor’s administration has failed to present information that was promised to the General Assembly justifying continued state support of the system.
State funding was originally provided to support the unemployment compensation system for an agreed-to, four-year period to offset declining federal dollars and update aging infrastructure within the Department of Labor and Industry. The sunset date this December was hardly a surprise.
The Secretary of Labor and Industry promised to provide a report on the status of modernization efforts within the unemployment compensation system by June 2016, however, no report was provided. Repeated attempts to engage the Governor in substantive talks about the status and the temporary funding of the system were stymied.
I find it concerning that the administration chose to furlough employees and close call centers without a plan in place for the future of the unemployment compensation system. For the administration to expect increases in funding to what was a temporary funding stream without any additional accountability is disappointing.
I join my colleagues in calling on the Governor to further explain the criteria he used to determine which call centers would close. Absent detailed information justifying these closures (efficiency of centers, volume of calls, job performance of employees, etc.), it appears his decisions were politically-motivated at best.
For further information regarding the Senate’s efforts to sustain the system long term, please see the letter submitted by Senate Leadership to the Governor.
December Episode of Legislative Report
In my December episode of Legislative Report, I interview Nicole Elwood and Jennifer Olson and tour the Summit School of the Poconos, a new private school in Monroe County with a project-based curriculum known as STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The Summit believes learning is not only measured by the knowledge an individual possesses, but by a capability to apply it, and the learning process should be valued as much as the results.
LIHEAP Applications Open to Eligible Residents
Pennsylvania’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is taking applications through March 31, 2017 for home heating assistance to qualifying low- and fixed-income individuals and families, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
Income eligibility for heating assistance for a household of one is $17,820, increasing incrementally with a family of ten’s income eligibility set at $73,815. Each additional person over ten raises the limit by $6,240.
Apply online or download an application through COMPASS, Pennsylvania’s secure website for many health and human service programs. Learn more here.
Health Department Offering Low Cost Flu Shots
The Pennsylvania Department of Health will be offering the Flu Shot on December 6th at the Northampton County State Health Center. Appointments for shots can be made from 9AM to 11AM and 1PM to 3PM. For more information on eligibility, please contact the Health Department at 610-250-1825.
Pennsylvania Urges Use of Solar Energy Program
Applications being accepted for the PA Solar Energy Program to help businesses, local governments and economic development organizations boost the use of solar energy. The Solar Energy Program provides loans for projects including facilities to generate, distribute, or store solar energy; manufacturing or assembly facilities for solar panels and other solar equipment; and the development or construction of facilities for the research and development of solar energy-related technology. More information here.
Photos with Santa to Benefit Local Animal Shelter
If you are interested in taking Photos with Santa, Melons’ Gift at Sit, Stay and Play will be hosting an event supporting the Monroe Animal League.
Around the 40th District
Our Newest Eagle Scouts
100 Years of Scouting
Thursdays on Pocono 96.7 – Gary in the Morning
Please join me at 7 a.m. next Thursday on Pocono 96.7 - Gary in the Morning in the car, at work, or in your home. I will be discussing the latest from Harrisburg and answering your questions at 7 AM.
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Senate Box 203040
2989 Route 611, Suite 103
Tannersville, PA 18372
Phone (570) 620-4326
FAX (570) 620-4379
8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Northampton County Office