The LuLac Edition #883, July 21st, 2009
PHOTO INDEX: CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH WITH HIS WIFE, STATE SENATOR JEFF PICCOLA, WILKES BARRE AREA SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER CANDIDATE HARRY HAAS, CAROLEE MEDICO OLENGINSKI AND WALTER GRIFFITH JUNIOR (CANDIDATES FOR PROTHNOTARY AND CONTROLLER RESPECTIVELY).
LOCAL GOP ON MOVE
It’s summer and the conventional political wisdom says that all is supposed to be quiet. Tell that to the county GOP. Row office candidates Walter Griffith (running for Controller) Carolee Medico Olenginski (running for Prothonotary) and Harry Haas (Wilkes Barre School Director Candidate) have been chasing votes in the midst of potato pancakes and funnel cakes. This is the time to meet the folks, enjoy the nice weather and build a base for the fall campaign.
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $39.8 million in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Pennsylvania. Under DOE’s State Energy Program, Pennsylvania proposed a statewide plan that prioritizes energy savings, creates or retains jobs, increases the use of renewable energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Secretary Chu announced a total of more than $162 million for State Energy Programs in seven states and territories states including: Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico. Each grantee is receiving 40 percent of its total State Energy Program (SEP) funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “This funding will provide an important boost for state economies, help to put Americans back to work, and move us toward energy independence," said Secretary Chu. "It reflects our commitment to support innovative state and local strategies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy while insisting that taxpayer dollars be spent responsibly." With the announcement, Pennsylvania will now have received 40 percent of its total State Energy Program (SEP) funding authorized under the Recovery Act. Pennsylvania will now have received 50 percent of its total Recovery Act SEP funding. The initial 10 percent of total funding was previously available to support planning activities; the remaining 50 percent of funds will be released the state meets reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act. After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, Pennsylvania will receive nearly $50 million in additional funding, for a total of almost $100 million. Pennsylvania will use its Recovery Act SEP funding to provide grants and other support for energy efficiency and conservation efforts with the goal of reducing dependence on fossil fuels and stimulating growth in renewable sectors. Pennsylvania Green Energy Works! will offer grants to businesses, non-profit organizations, universities, local governments, and utilities to deploy shovel-ready efficient, environmentally sustainable and economically worthwhile energy projects across the state. Over a longer time horizon, Pennsylvania will continue to fund advanced energy projects, tailoring programs to specific economic sectors. For example, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority will continue to serve business needs, while the Pennsylvania Energy Harvest will support schools, nonprofits, and local governments across the state. Pennsylvania will also establish a Green Development Loan Program, a revolving loan fund that will provide clean-energy and energy-efficiency financing for facilities projects, resource efficiency measures, and advanced and renewable clean-energy technologies. In addition to originating loans and leveraging private capital, this fund will make outright awards to cover the costs of project feasibility studies, energy audits, or project design, which can often present significant barriers to sustainable development investments. Activities eligible for State Energy Program funding include energy audits, building retrofits, education and training efforts, transportation programs to increase the use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles, and new financing mechanisms to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. The Recovery Act appropriated $3.1 billion to the State Energy Program (SEP) to help promote energy efficiency and clean energy deployment, as well as to support local economic recovery. States use these grants at the state and local level to create green jobs and address state energy priorities. Transparency and accountability are important priorities for SEP and all Recovery Act projects. Throughout the program’s implementation, DOE will provide strong oversight at the local, state, and national level, while emphasizing with states the need to quickly award funds to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies.
HEALTH CARE REFORM
Dennis Kucinich's amendment to let states adopt single-payer healthcare passed the House Education and Labor Committee by 25-19 . While this bill will most certainly have little effect on national health care, it does give states like Pennsylvania the go ahead to offer the single payer option.
In the state budget battle, Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati, says it's time for Gov. Ed Rendell to stop using state workers as pawns and to start paying them."It is clear that the governor does not recognize that Pennsylvania families live paycheck to paycheck or he would follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and refrain from using payless paydays as a budgetary scare tactic," Scarnati told the Harrisburg Patriot. Scarnati disagrees with the administration's interpretation that the state constitution trumps federal law. He claims it is an interpretation that Rendell is using to try to force Senate Republicans to give in to his demand for a tax increase to support a higher level of state spending. "Quite frankly, I am shocked that the governor would place the livelihoods of over 77,000 state workers and their families in jeopardy to make a case for a massive tax increase," Scarnati said. In a related development, help is being offered to unpaid state workers by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Ours were extended to state employees who might have to take advantage of the bank. Meanwhile on Monday night, Senator Jeff Piccola whose district holds many of the state capitol workers called the Governor’s behavior despicable. Watching it on PCN certainly was a sight to see. Senator Jay Costa of Western Pennsylvania then asked Senate Pro Tem Scarnati to have Piccola retract his remarks. Picolla did not, kind of apologized for the tone but not the intent. This is getting combative.