Harrisburg – January 31, 2019 – A state financing agency has approved funding for a critical project in Elizabeth Borough, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced.
The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) approved $8.8 million in loan funding for the Elizabeth Borough Municipal Authority’s new water pump station project.
“Ensuring that our communities are receiving clean water is critical and the installation of this new water pump will improve water quality in the area,” Brewster said.
PENNVEST noted that the current water pump station has been experiencing issues with wet weather sewage overflows. The consistent overflows and flooding of the station have decreased the capability of the water pumps to adequately remove grit and contaminants.
With the installation of a new pump station, the municipal authority will be able to better accommodate the amount of wet weather sewage and improve contaminant screening and treatment.
The new water pump station will serve residents in the borough as well as other customers in Elizabeth Township, Lincoln Borough, and Forward Township.
McKeesport – January 30, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced today that he has partnered with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Westmoreland County Food Bank to reach more citizens in need.
“We’ve joined with area food banks to expand information availability and develop greater access to food for those in need,” Brewster said. “Information about the food banks and locations of their services in our district are on our website and staff at my permanent and satellite offices will help facilitate contact.”
Brewster said that in addition to the information portals on his website and direct contact with food bank clients at his district offices, he is planning on having outreach services at Produce to People (via the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank) and Operation Fresh (Westmoreland County Food Bank) events. These events provide direct access to fresh produce.
Earlier this week, Brewster announced a significant expansion of his satellite district office hours. The food bank information will be at the following venues at these days and times:
- North Braddock Municipal Building, 600 Anderson Street, North Braddock
Every Monday, 9 am-4 pm;
- Turtle Creek Borough Building, 125 Monroeville Avenue, Turtle Creek
Every Tuesday, 9 am-4 pm;
- North Versailles Township Building, 1401 Greensburg Avenue, North Versailles
Every Wednesday, 9 am-4 pm;
- Lower Burrell City Hall, 2800 Bethel Street, Lower Burrell
2nd Tuesday of each month, 1 pm-4 pm;
- Elizabeth Twp. Municipal Building, 522 Rock Run Road, Elizabeth
2nd Tuesday of each month, 1 pm-4 pm.
- Allegheny Twp. Municipal Building, 136 Community Building Road, Leechburg
Every Monday and Tuesday, 9 am − 4 pm;
- Vandergrift Municipal Building, 109 Grant Avenue, Vandergrift
Every Wednesday and Thursday, 9 am − 4 pm;
- Forward Twp. Municipal Building, 1000 Golden Circle, Elizabeth
2nd Tuesday of every month, 9 am − noon;
- Human Services Center Corp.,413 Penn Avenue Ext., Turtle Creek
1st Thursday of every month, 1 pm − 4 pm.
Harrisburg – January 28, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced more permanent satellite offices throughout the 45th Senatorial District.
“I am happy to announce new satellite offices and extended office hours that will be available in many communities throughout the district,” Brewster said. “I look forward to continuing and improving the services that are offered and the help that my staff and I provide.”
The senator’s district offices have been instrumental in helping local residents apply for essential state programs and services including property tax relief, rent rebate programs, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly program (PACE), and many others.
“With new offices and hours available in more communities, residents can better access the programs and services they need with the assistance of my district offices,” Brewster said.
New district office locations and hours of operation are:
- North Braddock Municipal Building, 600 Anderson Street, North Braddock open every Monday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm;
- Turtle Creek Borough Building, 125 Monroeville Avenue, Turtle Creek open every Tuesday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm;
- North Versailles Township Building, 1401 Greensburg Avenue, North Versailles open every Wednesday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm;
- Lower Burrell City Hall, 2800 Bethel Street, Lower Burrell open the 2nd Tuesday of each month, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm;
- Elizabeth Twp. Municipal Building, 522 Rock Run Road, Elizabeth open the 2nd Tuesday of each month, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm.
Brewster also reminds residents that other community district offices remain open and staffed during their scheduled hours of operation:
- Allegheny Twp. Municipal Building, 136 Community Building Road, Leechburg open every Monday and Tuesday, 9:00 am − 4:00 pm;
- Vandergrift Municipal Building, 109 Grant Avenue, Vandergrift open every Wednesday and Thursday, 9:00 am − 4:00 pm;
- Forward Twp. Municipal Building, 1000 Golden Circle, Elizabeth open the 2nd Tuesday of every month, 9:00 am − 12:00 pm;
- Human Services Center Corp.,413 Penn Avenue Ext., Turtle Creek open the 1st Thursday of every month, 1:00 pm − 4:00 pm.
In addition, Brewster operates full-time offices in Monroeville, McKeesport and New Kensington.
Brewster, Costa, Kortz, Davis receive update during morning conference call
McKeesport – January 25, 2019 – State Sens. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland), Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and state Reps. Bill Kortz (D-Allegheny) and Austin Davis (D-Allegheny) received an update from officials from the Allegheny County Health Department concerning the Dec. 24 fire at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works.
The update was provided during a morning conference call.
“We had a discussion with Dr. Karen Hacker and her team at the health department about the fire and its aftermath,” Brewster said. “Conversations will continue at a public meeting on February 7 at the Clairton Municipal Building.”
Brewster said the discussion focused on proper community notification procedures, air quality monitoring, improving communications and emergency response. He said the county officials pledged that these issues would be covered at the February public meeting.
The fire damaged the coke work’s gas processing system. The fire and response were the focus of a public meeting held in Clairton earlier this week.
Brewster said that additional information would be available at a public meeting, which is a joint Senate-House Democratic Policy Committee hearing, scheduled for Feb. 7 beginning at 12 noon at the municipal building, 551 Ravensburg Boulevard, Clairton.
Harrisburg, Jan. 17, 2019 – Education grants dedicated to the implementation and improvement of computer science programs and career-readiness have been awarded to schools in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, said Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).
“As computer technology continues to evolve, it is important that students can experience and learn new computer skills first hand,” Brewster said. “I am pleased that students in our area will benefit from Pennsylvania’s grants dedicated to improving computer science programs in local schools.”
Baldwin-Whitehall, Duquesne, East Allegheny and South Allegheny in Allegheny County, along with Burrell and Kiski school districts in Westmoreland, were approved for funding through the PAsmart initiative. The grants are for $35,000 each.
PAsmart grants are used to fund high-quality STEM and computer science courses for K-12 students, specifically those in low-income areas where access to up-to-date STEM technology may be limited.
Brewster noted that the state’s commitment to funding innovative technology and STEM education for Pennsylvania students has resulted in the state ranking second in the country for STEM education funding.
“PAsmart grants are an excellent investment in the future of our students,” Brewster said. “We must continue to provide for educational programs and opportunities that will prepare students to enter the ever-changing, fast paced workforce.”
A total of $8.7 million were distributed to 221 school districts for 765 individual schools.
Veteran lawmaker also appointed to seats on Banking and Insurance, Education and Transportation
Harrisburg – January 16, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) has been appointed Democratic chair of the Senate Law and Justice and Game and Fisheries committees.
“Serving as chair on both Law and Justice and Game and Fisheries is an honor and privilege,” Brewster said. “There are significant issues to be discussed and key decisions will have to be made about modernizing our liquor system and redefining game and fishing rules and regulations.”
Brewster also served as Democratic chair of both committees in the last two-year legislative session.
The veteran lawmaker was also reappointed to seats on the Senate’s Banking and Insurance, Education and Transportation committees.
“As a member of key committees that handle issues that are important to my district, I can ensure that the needs of our region are served well,” Brewster said.
On education, Brewster has led the effort to reform charter schools. He has fought for additional dollars for education and plans to reintroduce his “Extraction for Education” severance tax plan that will provide dollars not only to bolster basic education, but also to fund school safety initiatives.
Brewster was appointed as an inaugural member of the statewide School Safety and Security Committee established under Act 44 in 2018.
“There are key problems in education that need to be fixed,” Brewster said. “I’ve sponsored bills to reform charter schools, aid school safety initiatives and ensure that we have more resources for our children to learn.”
The McKeesport lawmaker said his appointment to the Transportation Committee will ensure that issues that arise relative to the construction of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and mass transit will be addressed. Brewster has long been an advocate of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and rapid expansion of mass transit into underserved areas. He currently serves as secretary of the Port Authority of Allegheny County Board of Directors.
“Building and expanding the reach of transportation systems that serve eastern Allegheny and western Westmoreland counties, plus meeting the unique needs of the Mon and Allegheny Valleys continues to be a priority,” Brewster said.
Prior to his election to the Senate, Brewster served as mayor of McKeesport, and was formerly Vice-President of Operations at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh.
Brewster said his appointment to a seat on the Banking and Insurance Committee provides an opportunity to utilize his expertise and experience in banking to have significant impact on crafting better banking laws.
Brewster said his legislative agenda is chalk full of important initiatives. In addition to his charter school reform package and severance tax piece, Brewster has advocated changing game laws to allow hunting on Sundays and more financial support for the Game Commission. He has introduced a far-reaching plan to address the opioid crisis, including mandatory treatment for those addicted.
In addition, Brewster has prime sponsored legislation to promote the use of American made steel in Marcellus Shale drilling and improve pipeline safety. Several years ago, Brewster spearheaded a study of the country of origin for steel pipe used in drilling.
He said he will introduce legislation to invest new dollars in environmental protection and school safety.
Harrisburg – January 16, 2019 – Education Partnership Grants to improve technical career training have been approved for projects in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, said Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).
Westmoreland/Fayette Business Education Partnership and Three Rivers were approved for grant funding to help implement programs that will demonstrate the importance of technical careers to students and help those interested in technical careers prepare for post-secondary education and apprenticeship opportunities.
“STEM and technical careers are essential to our local and state economy,” Brewster said. “It is important that we continue to fund education programs that offer students pathways into these career fields.”
Westmoreland/Fayette Business Education Partnership was awarded $127,050 to develop technology projects and interactive programs that will allow students to explore and prepare for post-secondary education and careers within the STEM field. The programs, which will serve 600 K-12 students in the Westmoreland and Fayette area, will include both classroom and work-based learning opportunities.
Three Rivers in Allegheny was awarded $115,641 to implement a three-phase conference and networking program that will showcase careers in the building and construction industry.
“Providing students with the opportunity to explore more careers and the chance to gain hands-on experience is a great educational investment,” Brewster said. “I am happy that these local programs have been awarded the funds to help students see more options available to them in their future.”
Brewster, Hughes, Yudichak to introduce comprehensive legislative package
Harrisburg – January 11, 2019 – Three Democratic state senators today announced a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at sparking a rapid and sustained expansion of Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector.
State Sens. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland), Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) said they will sponsor legislation that would better focus state efforts to develop manufacturing opportunities and create jobs.
“We need to focus our efforts and address all aspects of economic development, including manufacturing,” Hughes said. “We have to do better coordinating our efforts, funding job training, purchasing new equipment and investing in communities in need.
“Manufacturing is a large and important part of our economy and it needs to continue to grow and develop. Our urban and rural areas are heavily dependent on this sector of our economy.”
According to the Center for Manufacturing Research, 12 percent of Pennsylvania’s gross state product is directly related to manufacturing with more than 550,000 workers engaged. Manufactured products account for $33 billion annually in exports.
Yudichak’s legislation calls for the creation of a “Chief Manufacturing Officer” within the governor’s office and a “Manufacturing Competitiveness Board” to help craft an overall manufacturing strategy.
“A chief manufacturing officer would serve as a strong advocate for manufacturing at the highest level of state government,” Yudichak said. “The individual who serves in that position should be well-schooled in the development of manufacturing strategies, especially as it relates to rural areas.”
A key aspect of growing the manufacturing sector is having capital on hand to help businesses invest in new equipment and training. Brewster’s legislation would channel up to $5 million in state grants for vocational technical schools, vocational programs and equipment purchases from the state’s Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund. The proposal would increase the maximum loan amount from $5 million to $7.5 million and authorize loans to retrofit equipment.
“This grant program is essential for vocational schools and small businesses,” Brewster said. “The grants would allow schools to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to train a new generation of skilled workers.”
Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap, according to Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute.
Hughes’ legislation would expand the Manufacturing Tax Credit by lifting the credit cap to $12.5 million from its current $4 million. A portion of the tax credit – up to $2.5 million – would be set aside for businesses in distressed communities. It would also be used for disadvantaged, minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.
Brewster said that the investment in manufacturing pays dividends for Pennsylvania’s workers. The average annual compensation for manufacturing employees in Pennsylvania in 2016 was $72,151. The average statewide salary for non-manufacturing and nonfarm business in Pennsylvania in 2016 was $49,059, according to National Association of Manufactures – State Data.
“We must have investments in manufacturing to ensure that Pennsylvania has a well-rounded and diverse economy,” Brewster said. Brewster’s Senate district includes many areas dependent on heavy manufacturing operations in the Monongahela and Allegheny River valley’s in Allegheny and Westmorland Counties.
Yudichak, who is from Northeast Pennsylvania, has a diverse district that includes manufacturing operations in cities and rural areas. He said it was critical that Pennsylvania policy stay current with national and international economics.
“A small manufacturing business, often located in a rural area, produces products that are used in goods manufactured all over the world,” Yudichak said.
The changing world economic landscape has altered how manufacturing is being developed and sustained in the United States. In 2015, compared to urban areas, manufacturing represented a greater share of both private nonfarm rural jobs (14 percent vs. 7 percent) and rural earnings (21 percent vs. 11 percent) according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While the legislation was also introduced last session, the Democratic senators said they are hopeful they can advance the legislative package this year. They said will question state officials about their commitment to manufacturing during the upcoming budget hearings.