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The Fight Continues to Restore Funding to PA Universities

Pitt Rally

April 5, 2011 - Speaking to students during "Pitt Day" at the Capitol

      For a nation that is only just now emerging from the largest economic recession since the Great Depression, making cuts of 50 percent to the very institutions that educate tomorrow’s innovators, workers and business leaders makes little sense.

      Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s state-owned and state-related universities are facing that exact situation. As we continue our fight to restore adequate funding for higher education, I was pleased to join hundreds of college students and educators from across Pennsylvania at a capitol rally opposing the governor’s cuts.

      These students and their families know first-hand how difficult it already is to pay for a college education, and the prospects of paying even more will leave many fine students with no choice but to delay or outright cancel their education plans.

      Pennsylvania offers some of the finest opportunities for higher education in America, and now is not the time to walk away from our long-term commitment to providing real learning opportunities for anyone who seeks them.

An Effort to Cut the Cost of Pennsylvania’s Prisons

Pitt Rally      I was pleased to join Auditor General Jack Wagner and Senate Judiciary Chairman Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) at a news conference at Carnegie Mellon University to discuss reforming Pennsylvania’s corrections system and finding cost savings.

      Pennsylvania led the nation in prison population growth in 2009, adding 2,122 inmates. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections annual budget has grown from $94 million in 1980 to nearly $1.9 billion as proposed by the governor for the coming fiscal year. This kind of on-going growth is unsustainable, particularly when it represents such a large portion of the overall state budget.

      These alarming statistics make it clear that we need sentencing reform now, and we need to provide additional support for alternative sentencing programs to curb our ever-increasing prison costs.

      We were joined in the discussion by Dr. Alfred Blumstein, professor of urban systems and operations research at CMU, who detailed the costs of the state’s extensive prison system.

      A good place to start these much-needed reforms would be passage of Sen. Greenleaf’s legislation (SB 100), which calls for a renewed focus on alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders and a greater emphasis on programs designed to reduce recidivism.

Pitt RallyHonored to Speak at Gathering

      I had the honor of serving as a guest speaker at the opening reception of the Pennsylvania African-American Network Convention at the Holiday Inn University Center in Oakland. The event was hosted by Talk Magazine and attended by delegates from minority communities, as well as non-minority communities, who desire to improve the lives of their families and neighbors.

Home Heating Assistance Still Available

      If you need help paying your heating bill, there is some good news. The deadline to apply for the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended to April 15th because funding is still available.

      LIHEAP provides home heating energy grants and crisis grants to help low-income families pay their heating bills. Eligibility for the program is based on household size, type of (LIHEAP)fuel, and income.

      To obtain an application, or if you have any questions regarding LIHEAP, contact any of my district offices.

      To apply for LIHEAP, you will need to provide:

  1. The names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of all household members;
  2. Proof of household income; and
  3. A copy of a recent heating bill.

      Allegheny County residents seeking a crisis grant for help with a home heating emergency should contact the Allegheny County Department of Human Services at 1-800-851-3838.


2010 - 2011 LIHEAP
(For Homeowners and Renters) Household
Maximum Size Income


$ 17,328
$ 23,312
$ 29,296
$ 35,280
$ 41,264
$ 47,248
$ 53,232
$ 59,216
$ 65,200
$ 71,184

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Property Tax and Rent Rebate program Facebook Heating Assistance / LIHEAP Official Website