Harrisburg, May 26, 2011— State Sen. Lisa Boscola today said she will work to restore funding for proven jobs and economic development programs in this year’s state budget.

“In these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to underfund successful jobs programs,” Boscola said. “Yet, if we blindly rubber stamp the Republican budget proposal, we will be doing just that.”

The Northampton County lawmaker said the governor’s budget proposal would  squeeze and consolidate four enormously successful economic development programs into a new program called PREP (Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance).

“The governor is proposing to consolidate and make this PREP program a lean and mean economic development machine,” Boscola quipped. “But if you take a few minutes and actually look beyond the rhetoric, he is taking four of our most successful programs and cutting their funding by 23 percent.”

Boscola said the governor’s plan would cut a combined $3.9 million dollars in economic investment that the state has successfully used in the past through the Industrial Development Corporations, Local Development Districts, Small Business Development Centers and Industrial Resource Centers.

She said all of the programs have proven track records and all have successfully helped businesses expand and create jobs.

“While all of us have can be optimistic over the recent revenue and jobs news in Pennsylvania, we cannot wreck our own momentum by making huge cuts to proven jobs and economic development programs,” Boscola said.

“Just as our economy is beginning to show signs of life again, why on earth would we even consider cutting this funding?”

She added that Corbett Administration officials do not even expect to have a finalized guidance draft of how the new PREP program would work until the ongoing budget process concludes. She said she is troubled by how little information has been disclosed on the new program and how it seems to be generating more questions than answers.

Meanwhile, Boscola said she has chaired six Senate Democratic Policy hearings around the state this spring on creating jobs and helping businesses. She said all of the business, labor, government and jobs experts agreed that it was imperative to continue supporting proven jobs programs.

“Witness after witness gave us examples of how minimal investment spurred a far greater return in jobs, tax revenues and economic expansion — that spread throughout struggling regions of Pennsylvania,” Boscola said.

She said that until she is satisfied that the PREP program will adequately continue the state’s job creation efforts, she will fight to re-establish and restore funding in separate line items for each of the current jobs and economic development programs.

Boscola added that she will also work to restore funding for the Ben Franklin Partnerships. She said that program, which has proven enormously successful in the past, would be cut from $16.8 million in this year’s budget to $14.6 million in the current Republican proposal, a $2.2 million, or 15 percent cut.

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