Harrisburg – November 18th, 2016 – Senators Vincent Hughes and Christine Tartaglione issued the following statements on the failure of the Pennsylvania Senate to extend funding for Labor & Industry service call centers:

Senator Hughes: “I am outraged by the failure of the Pennsylvania Senate Republican leadership to hold a vote to extend funding for unemployment compensation service call centers. Because of this inaction, nearly 600 working people will lose their jobs just one week before Christmas. It also means that thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians will experience longer wait times when seeking assistance while applying for benefits.

“We must be clear that was a choice made by Senate Republicans for political reasons. They control the Senate calendar and Governor Wolf and Senate Democrats made it clear throughout the fall session that this bill was a priority.  The bill should have been voted on October 26 but it was delayed when the Republican pension plan fell apart.  Then, on our final session day Wednesday, the bill was marked for a vote but was pulled again after their plan to further limit a women’s right to make her own health decisions failed.  Because they twice didn’t get what they wanted, Senator Scott Wagner decided to play Scrooge to 600 workers who will lose their jobs just one week before Christmas. 

“The inconsistency in public statements by Senate Republicans is clear proof that this failure to act is pure politics. First, the Senate Republicans tried to blame Governor Wolf even though they control what bills we consider in the Senate. Then, Senator Wagner openly admits that he wanted to cut funding to these call centers and see them shut down. They can’t have it both ways.

“Republicans also cannot simultaneously claim to be the champions of the working class and force the closure of facilities that help people who are unemployed. I call on the Senate Republicans to immediately reconvene the Senate to pass an extension of funding to unemployment compensation service calls centers.”       

State Senator Christine Tartaglione, Democratic Chairwoman of Senate Labor & Industry Committee, offered the following statement:

“I join my colleague in calling for Senate Republicans to move on this important issue. I have been calling for the funding to be restored to these calls centers as one of my top priorities for the entire legislative session and offered my own bill, Senate Bill 1335 that would have reauthorized this funding for an additional four years. It is important to realize that this money is available, it simply needs to authorized. There is no reason that the Senate should not have acted to prevent these layoffs. Now, nearly 600 workers will lose their jobs and thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians will see diminished services.”

State Senator Vincent Hughes represents the 7th Senatorial District and is the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Christine Tartaglione represents the 2nd Senatorial District and is the Democratic Chair of the Senate Labor & Industry Committee.