All blogs filed under Pennsylvania
I'd like to commend and congratulate Crayola on the opening of a brand-new 15 acre solar farm at their world headquarters. Joining with two other Pennsylvania companies, UGI Energy Services Inc. of Reading and PPL Corporation of Allentown, Crayola is helping Pennsylvania manufacturing go green with the help of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The 1.9-megawatt solar farm will generate enough power to make over 1 billion crayons per year! Now Crayola can proudly boast that their crayons are "made with sunshine."
Children came from across the country to help plug the solar farm into the Crayola factory. These children won a nationwide contest to envision a greener world. I am glad to know that Crayola crayons, markers, and colored pencils, helped these children harness their own creative talents.
This project is an example of the change we can make when we all work together. The Recovery Act provided a $1.5 million grant to fund a large portion of the solar project, and the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit, which I voted for, provided tax credits for 30% of the capital investment. Because of these incentives, Crayola plans to expand the solar farm over the next few years and create many more jobs in Pennsylvania.
Child abuse is an unspeakable tragedy whenever it occurs. I recently wrote an op-ed in the York Daily Record, in response to an editorial about the need for additional work to prevent child abuse and improve the lives of children in Pennsylvania.
Every community struggles with the scourge of child abuse, and in my op-ed I discussed several different angles from which we can tackle this problem, from actions I believe the Congress must take to programs in local communities across Pennsylvania that are actively working to prevent child abuse.
The editorial from the York Daily Record is available here and my op-ed in reply is available here.
There are many organizations working to prevent child abuse and protect our children. One example in Pennsylvania is the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and their HERO Project – an innovative educational and motivational campaign featuring radio and television ads that ask adults to step up and be a "hero" for a child whom they suspect may be a victim of sexual abuse by calling a 24-hour hotline.
I encourage you to learn more about organizations like PCAR and what you can do in your community to prevent child abuse.
One consistent theme that I have heard from Pennsylvanians in our conversations about health insurance is how confusing it can be to find the right plan. It’s challenging to understand what options are available, and it’s even harder to determine how plans compare on benefits, price, and other important criteria.
The good news is, things may have just gotten a little simpler with the launch of a new website called HealthCare.gov. This website, which was created as a result of the new health care law – the Affordable Care Act – gives Pennsylvanians, and Americans across the country, more control over our health care by providing the information necessary to make the best choices for ourselves and our families.
On HealthCare.gov, you can learn about:
- Health insurance options available to you and your family in your community. HealthCare.gov is the first website to provide consumers across the U.S. with both public and private health coverage options tailored specifically for their needs in a single, easy-to-use tool. By answering just a few simple questions, you can learn what health insurance options are available in your community, and how health plans compare on services, providers and drug benefits. Later this year, information on prices will be added – making this an even more powerful tool.
- New rights and benefits provided to Americans under the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act. A timeline shows when new programs under the new law will become available between now and 2014, and information is available to help families, older adults, employers, health care providers and others understand how their health care will improve under the new law.
- Information to help you and your family prevent health problems and lead a healthier, more active life – and to assess the quality of health care provided in your area.
The website will be updated regularly, as new information about plans, benefits and consumer protections become available.
I hope that this website will be a valuable resource for you and all Pennsylvanians. I would encourage you to share it with your coworkers, friends and family who you think might be interested in it.
On Monday, I joined Governor Ed Rendell and representatives from the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for a rally on the steps of the State Capitol Building rotunda. At the Parents’ Rally for Education, parents and students alike spoke of the importance of maintaining adequate funding levels for school districts throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Following statements from citizens throughout the Commonwealth, I discussed how several important federal policies impact the state budget. The Keep Our Educators Working Act, which I am cosponsoring, is as straightforward as it gets when it comes to education: by creating a fund to provide education aid to the states, it would save between 12,000 and 15,000 teaching jobs throughout Pennsylvania. Equally important, however, are extensions for FMAP funding for Medicare, unemployment insurance, and COBRA. Extended FMAP funding is necessary to ensure that the state of Pennsylvania does not suffer a large budget gap, which could result in cuts in education. Unemployment and COBRA extensions are needed not only to protect vulnerable Pennsylvanian families, but also to prevent economic recovery from being stifled, which could hurt the state’s ability to collect the revenue it needs for education and other programs. Without this funding, Pennsylvania could experience 20,000 layoffs and a threat can be posed to public safety and schools. Extending this funding has majority support in the Senate. And it has bipartisan support outside of Washington with 42 governors having signed a letter urging Congress to extend this funding, including 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans.
The message of the Parents’ Rally for Education is an important one that I will carry with me to Washington DC. I will advocate tirelessly for the passage of the Keep Our Educators Working Act, and for extensions for FMAP funding, unemployment, and COBRA. These programs are important to the citizens of the Commonwealth and vital for assisting state budgets and ensuring economic recovery.
On Monday, I held a field hearing on financial regulation and reform entitled “Bringing Accountability and Transparency to Wall Street.” As the Senate continues to debate the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (S. 3217), I wanted to make sure I heard from people and small businesses that have been directly impacted by the financial crisis as well as experts in the field of economics and finance.
The hearing was held at the Creese Student Center on the campus of Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the hearing I was able to gather valuable information from six witnesses: Steven Kaplan, who is the Secretary of Banking for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Skip Voluntad, who is the owner of Asian Pacific Management and Consulting Company and also serves on the Executive Council of the Association of the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP); Dr. Michael Gombola and Dr. Jie Cai, Drexel Lebow College of Business Finance Department Head and Professor, respectively; Tracy Levesque, the co-owner of YIKES, Inc. a Web design, development and ecommerce small business; Jim Sysko, a Professor of Business Administration and Business Ethicist Scholar at the McGowan School of Business, King’s College.
Each of the six witnesses was able to provide a unique perspective on a variety of topics that included how the financial crisis has affected credit availability for small businesses, the impact of deregulation in Pennsylvania and the relationship between executive pay and company performance, among others. Listening to these testimonies reinforced what I have seen travelling across Pennsylvania and in reviewing job loss and foreclosure numbers, and that is the need to pass strong reform for our financial markets and mega banks.
It is clear that American families and small business were pushed to the side by Wall Street mega banks as they consolidated their power simply to gain wealth for themselves and their stockholders. For this reason, I look forward to making sure that reform to improve accountability, resiliency and transparency in the financial system is passed in the Senate.