Event Highlights Need to Raise Revenue for Workforce, Higher Education, Housing

HARRISBURG, PA (July 15, 2009) - Diann Ondrik was unemployed, uninsured and without any means to support herself and her two growing boys. Then she found out about a training opportunity that allowed her to obtain her certified nursing aide license.

Today, she is one of the many success stories behind Pennsylvania's investments in workforce training and development. Those investments are at risk as lawmakers consider deep cuts to thousands of public services in order to resolve a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.
"The people that have been given and will continue to get this opportunity will not only better themselves but better our communities," Ondrik said. "The people we take care of in nursing homes, hospice, assisted living, and home care are the ones who truly reap the benefits of the state-funded programs. Without CNAs and nurses, these people don't get the care they need."

Ondrik joined dozens of others for a State Capitol rally today to urge lawmakers to preserve key investments in state services by raising additional revenue.

Stephen Herzenberg, an economist and Executive Director of the nonpartisan Keystone Research Center, said cuts to such areas as workforce development, higher education and housing are going to undercut Pennsylvania's economy.  They represent further job losses and a slower economic recovery, he said, adding that the "economics of minimizing job destruction should be at the center of the legislative debate."

Watch an ABC 27 News Clip on Today's Event

Keith Ackerman, Agency Director for Addus HealthCare in Carlisle, addressed the value of workforce training programs from an employer perspective.
"Together, we can press forward and partner in training and developing a workforce that will not only meet our growing needs but will artfully stimulate and grow our economy by leaps and bounds," Ackerman said.

He also discussed the need for state investments in health care, noting that Pennsylvania families must be healthy for the economy to progress.
Liz Hersh, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, said state investments in housing and redevelopment assistance create jobs and promote economic development. Cuts proposed in those areas, she said, will take money out of the housing market at a time when the market is already struggling and will end up costing the state more in the long run.
Pat Halpin-Murphy of the American Federation of Teachers of Pennsylvania urged lawmakers not to turn the clock back on investments in community colleges and higher education.
"Higher education and community colleges deliver a long-term return on investment," she said. "They raise the skills of our workers, the productivity of our businesses, and the living standards of our Commonwealth."
Several speakers directly addressed the need to raise additional revenue. Several times during the event, participants joined in the refrain: "No investment, no growth."
One economic growth area that has attracted young Pennsylvanians in particular is in the area of green jobs, according to Khari Mosley of the League of Young Voters in Pittsburgh. He said if Pennsylvania can be a leader in green jobs, it will help the state get on the road to economic recovery.
"Our future is at stake and we cannot cut our way to progress," Mosley said.
Individuals and organizations have been gathering all this week in the State Capitol to call attention to the need for additional tax revenue to maintain vital investments in essential services that Pennsylvanians rely on.

Better Choices for Pennsylvania is a coalition of groups committed to taking a balanced approach to resolving the state budget shortfall - one that raises revenue and uses budget reserves in addition to making cuts to discretionary programs. The coalition's goal is to stop counterproductive budget cuts, preserve essential services that families rely on and protect our future economic growth.