Investment in the People of Pennsylvania

Under the American Rescue Plan, created by the Biden/Harris administration to promote social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania received more than $7 billion.  Combined with a more than $3 billion state revenue surplus, the General Assembly was presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a stronger, broader economy that recognizes the sacrifice of front-line workers and addresses generations of inequity.

Instead, the legislative majority decided to stash $7 billion away for some future purpose.  This decision deprived Pennsylvanians the direct support they need as the pandemic continues to complicate our lives and endanger our front-line workers.

Since the budget passed in June, we’ve been talking to business owners, workers, and industry experts about what they would do if the $7 billion intended for recovery was actually put to that purpose.  Here’s what we’re hearing:

Audrey Greenberg, co-founder and managing director of The Discovery Labs

With the American Rescue Plan funds, we can create an epicenter, and center for manufacturing excellence for these critical cures that help patients and their families. We can hire talent here locally and attract talent from around the world.

Nicholas Elmi, executive chef, owner of Laurel, Lark, The Landing

To hear that we had several billion dollars worth of money that we decided to just sit on as opposed to getting it out to small business owners…it’s going to be better out in the community than it is sitting in a coffer somewhere.

Ken Kelk, owner Choice Party Linens

We’re still about 20 percent down on employees. If we had those funds we’d be able to hire more people which is the biggest challenge we have right now.

David Simms, proprietor Eatable Delights Catering

Restaurants and caterers have been suffering during this pandemic and we need help from Harrisburg.

Tyrik Jackson, co-owner Premier Barber Institute

Some of that additional revenue could help to offset costs. The money that’s available that still hasn’t been used would be great, even right now.

Kate McGeever, executive director Delaware County Workforce Development Board

We’ve been able to do some creative things that we wouldn’t be able to do with our traditional funding. We would love to have access to the flexibility that comes along to be able to do creative problem solving to support our workers and employers to get back to work.

Fergie Carey, co-owner Fergie’s Pub

We could do with more help.  And that fact that there’s money sitting there…that’s quite annoying.

Brian O’Neill,  founder, Center for Breakthrough Medicines

We have a very unique opportunity to start a manufacturing revolution. Where Pennsylvania – and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – could be bigger than the Silicon Valley.  The time is right now.

Dan Gormley, Co-founder Premiere Bar

I would love to have additional resources available for veterans.

Hughes, Fiedler, Rally with Educators for Full School Funding

PHILADELPHIA − May 12, 2022 − With Pennsylvania sitting on more than $8 billion in excess revenue, and a dismal national ranking for school equity, state Sen. Vincent Hughes and Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler held a pre-budget school funding rally in South Philadelphia today to call for an end to stale excuses for failure to invest in schools.

In April, Pennsylvania collected more revenue than any month in its history, pushing the budget surplus past $8 billion, with May and June revenues still to come.

“We’ve been hearing for years from the majority party in Harrisburg that we don’t have the money to end the disparity and create opportunity for all students in Pennsylvania,” Hughes said. “Well, we have more money now than any time in the history of our commonwealth.  If not now, when?”

Senator Vincent Hughes

The People’s Investment- Free the Funds Rally

When the majority in Harrisburg left town with $7 billion stashed away in a state vault, we started talking to the folks that are still suffering from the effects of the pandemic as well as the advocates across the region who work in the community providing jobs, health care, labor security, government services and public safety.

In July, more than 20 experts and advocates turned out in the shadow of the Octavius Catto statue at City Hall to weigh in on how our community could put to work the federal relief funds in a way that would create a bigger, broader economy for everyone.

These advocates pledged their support as we continue to gather stories from our communities and prepare to push the General Assembly to a fall reconsideration of June’s missed opportunities.

That’s how the #FreetheFunds movement got started. And it will be on the power of testimony from forgotten Pennsylvanians that we reach our goal.


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