PHILADELPHIA, May 7, 2009 – State Sen. Anthony H. Williams hosted a town hall meeting on Wednesday, May 6 at the Yeadon Borough Hall, to clarify how the federal stimulus package is impacting residents locally and the Commonwealth as a whole.
“A deluge of calls from constituents hit my offices, both in Philadelphia and Delaware County. People still aren’t clear on what all this really means and they want to know – and rightfully so,” Williams said. “This is a complex issue meant to help wade through complicated times. As an elected official, it is my job to help simplify and explain what all of this means to real people, in accessible ways.”
Williams partnered with the governor’s office, Rep. Ronald G. Waters and community organizations such as Fresh Start, Group Workcamps Foundation and the Delaware County Office of Services for the Aging (COSA). Williams also offered a second meeting at Sayre High School in West Philadelphia for his Philadelphia constituents.
Williams delivered a legislative update about what is happening in Harrisburg, including his legislation for intergenerational families and his support for the Scotland School. Following the update were presentations from Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of General Services James Creedon and John Brunken from PA CareerLink. The format also included a Q&A and an open forum to address other community concerns. Creedon is also the Chief Implementation Officer for the federal stimulus in Pennsylvania.
The stimulus package, also known as The American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act (ARRA), was signed into law in February, with federal agencies starting to use those funds in early March. Pennsylvania is expected to receive approximately $18 billion, which will help create or save 143,000 jobs over the next two years.
Creedon explained that half of that $18 billion will go directly to Pennsylvanians in the form of tax relief, extended and increased unemployment, and increased COBRA benefits. The remaining $9 billion will help fund transportation and infrastructure projects, education, health care, job training programs and more.
“What the federal government said back in February is that we are going to give [Pennsylvania] nine billion dollars, but we are going to put it in very specific areas. And we’re going to give it to you with formulas and programs that you already run, and that you run well,” Creedon said. “So that way you don’t have to go start a new program, invent a new program or staff a new program, you simply have money that will allow you to increase the benefits that are coming out of that program.”
Brunken spoke about the various career opportunities, job training options and other resources available through Pennsylvania Career Link. “We have a 44 percent increase in traffic into the CareerLinks compared to this time last year. We would average, on any given day, about 180 different jobs posted on our free website and today we average in the very low 100s,” said Brunken. “You’re familiar with Monster and you’re familiar with Craig’s List, but all those cost employers, so you’ll see jobs on our website before you’ll see them in other areas.”
The speakers also opened up the floor for questions after each of their presentations. Questions ranged from how the stimulus might impact local property taxes to green energy jobs opportunities. “The thing that really peaked my interested, being retired for 5 years, is the information about how to return to the workforce,” said Yeadon resident Ernestine Yarbough. Brunken mentioned a program entitled Goodwill Employment Services which specializes in finding employment for older workers.
“There are many unemployed people out there, and this stimulus is our opportunity to get those people back to work.” Williams said. “Information is one of the greatest things we can offer people right now, as they are trying to navigate what this maneuvering will mean for their household budget, for employment opportunities, for survival as we all weather this recession.”
For additional information about the stimulus or the services provided by PA CareerLink visit www.recovery.pa.gov or www.cwds.state.pa.us
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