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governor tom wolf

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Talk in Harrisburg is that the Pennsylvania Senate and Governor Tom Wolf are tentatively moving towards gradually increasing Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $9.50/hour in the next 18 months to two years. The tentative proposal would increase the state’s minimum wage by $2.25 from the current rate of $7.25.

Additionally, the tentative proposal would also prevent the Governor from taking action on a proposed rule to expand overtime to low level managers for the next two years, until after the next governor is elected. State business groups, such as the PA Chamber, may not fight this compromise so long as the overtime expansion is tabled and businesses receive assurances from the Governor that he will allow other employer/employee wage reforms to go through the legislative process and sign those reforms into law.

The deal is still in its infancy and the PA House will have to agree to the proposal. Stay tuned!! Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

Press Release from Governor Tom Wolf

Council on Reform Submits Recommendations for the Protection of Vulnerable Populations to Gov. Wolf
> Public Comment Period through December 16, 2019 <

November 1, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf’s Council on Reform, established through his Protection of Vulnerable Populations Executive Order 2019-05, submitted its recommendations for improving the state’s systems to protect its most vulnerable individuals and families.

In late July, Gov. Wolf charged this diverse group of community leaders, providers, stakeholders, and cabinet members with taking a comprehensive look at needs to best serve the state’s vulnerable populations with a mandate to report those recommendations back to him by Nov. 1.

“I took action in July to address long-standing issues with the state’s systems designed to protect our most vulnerable,” Gov. Wolf said. “The first task for the newly formed Council on Reform was to buckle down and develop a comprehensive list of recommendations for how we can best protect vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

“My thanks to all of the council members who shared their expertise and considerable time, and to those who participated by meeting with council members or submitting information and recommendations. Your tireless commitment to this process demonstrates your passion for protecting all Pennsylvanians, especially our most vulnerable. I look forward to reading and analyzing these recommendations and to our next steps to make much-needed changes.”

The 25-member council held its first meeting immediately following the governor’s announcement. In determining its charter and scope, the council defined populations and subpopulations, established committees, and adopted values.

The council determined it would look at protecting vulnerable populations from three perspectives with a separate committee for each: prevention and diversion, protection and intervention, and justice and support.

Populations were broken out by age with subpopulations to ensure vulnerabilities unique to each were considered:

Ages 0-17
Subpopulations – African Americans, Asian American & Pacific Islanders, Latinos, LGBTQ+ children, young women, children experiencing mental illness, children with intellectual disabilities/autism, children with physical/sensory disabilities, delinquent children, and dependent children

Ages 18-59
Subpopulations – African Americans, Asian American & Pacific Islanders, Latinos, LGBTQ+ adults, veterans, women, adults experiencing mental illness, adults with intellectual disabilities/autism, adults with physical/sensory disabilities, adults with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and domestic violence victims

Ages 60+
Subpopulations – African Americans, Asian American & Pacific Islanders, Latinos, LGBTQ+ seniors, women, veterans, seniors experiencing mental illness, seniors with intellectual disabilities/autism, seniors with physical/sensory disabilities, seniors with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and domestic violence victims

The council recommended two overarching goals for Pennsylvania to better protect vulnerable populations:
• Empower and strengthen the workforce serving vulnerable populations by providing comprehensive training, livable salaries and benefits, and support for staff experiencing vicarious trauma.

  • Empower communities and vulnerable populations by ensuring access to services for all Pennsylvanians and conducting culturally appropriate and diverse outreach efforts.

The council adopted values they believe to be relevant to protecting and serving vulnerable populations – these values are reflected throughout the recommendations:

Cultural Competence – Recognizing and honoring diversity

Person-Centered Approach – Focusing on the individual’s best interest

Community Engagement – Hearing from vulnerable populations, families, experts, and stakeholders

Context & Awareness – Understanding current environment and avoiding past failings

Trauma-Informed – Utilizing trauma-informed approaches across all systems

Workforce Empowerment – Ensuring the workforce is equipped and supported

Members heard from a wide array of existing oversight and advisory bodies, stakeholders, legislators, and constituents. Information was provided through in-person meetings, letters, emails, and a webform that council members distributed to their networks. These contributors provide recommendations for the council to consider and essential insight and context to ensure the council was fully informed. Many council members also served on advisory bodies connected to this work.

The council compiled the recommendations submitted by others along with recommendations from existing reports and assigned them to the appropriate committee for review and consideration. Committee members reviewed all that was submitted, identified common trends, eliminated duplication, and developed new recommendations.

After committees finalized their lists of recommendations, themes were identified that spanned all populations and committees. The result is the comprehensive list of recommendations presented to Gov. Wolf today.

The council advised Gov. Wolf that it “fully recognizes the funding implications of the recommendations that have been developed and the substantial amount of time and work it takes to carry out these recommendations. It is our hope that Pennsylvania will rise to the occasion and put its best effort into driving this much needed change – our most vulnerable are counting on it.”

The council asked that the governor direct the appropriate agencies, organizations, branches of government, and advisory bodies to carry out the recommendations he would like to move forward.

As the council carried out its process, they believed more could be done to engage with constituents. To achieve this, the council added an online public comment form available today through Dec. 16.

View press release online

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The Pennsylvania budget is set to be completed towards the end of this week. On Monday, June 24, the House voted HB 790, the state general fund budget bill, out of the House Appropriations Committee. The House will take a final floor vote on HB 790 today and it will then go over to the Senate. The Senate is expected to take a final vote on HB 790 on Thursday, June 26.

After the House voted the general fund budget bill out of committee yesterday, the House released the 2019–20 General Fund Budget House Appropriations Analysis, the 2019–20 Budget General Fund Appropriations Spreadsheets, and the General Fund Financial Statement.

Yesterday, the Senate voted HB 33, the Health and Human Service Code bill, out of the Senate Health and Human Service Committee on a party line vote. HB 33 eliminated the general assistance fund for the disabled, and the bill should have a final vote on Wednesday. SB 695 is another Health and Human Service Code bill, which is on Second Consideration in the House.

The other code bills should be finalized sometime this week, but as of late yesterday, the Fiscal Code bill still had numerous issues that need to be resolved. All four caucuses and the Governor’s office continue to work on the Fiscal Code. Contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips with any questions.