State Legislature Approves Austerity Budget

The State House approved the budget for the fiscal year beginning tomorrow following Senate passage earlier this week.  Gov. Corbett imposed a strict ceiling of $27.3 billion and refused to budge one penny.  This is in spite of increasing revenues.  Pennsylvania is currently sitting on a surplus of $700 million and another billion dollars would be available by the end of the fiscal year in July 2012.  Those funds would completely restore K12 and higher education funding slashed in austerity moves.

Remember the austerity measures are the result of decreased revenues caused by the spectacular failure of Republican economic policies and deregulation of the financial sector.  This budget is completely their responsibility.  Major cutbacks to poor people, disabled persons and other areas constitute a wholesale neglect of vital services which needy people, young people and the elderly depend.

The refusal to restore huge cuts as it became obvious revenues were improving proves this isn’t about money.  The funds are available.  This is about ideology, about slashing critical funding for programs critical to Pennsylvania’s future.  It is about taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves, of providing a safety net for the poor, a future for our children.  It is about educating a workforce so the Commonwealth can attract good jobs in the future.

Mostly this about human decency.  A budget is a Governor’s moral statement, it tells us what he deems important.  Gov. Corbett is all about prisons.

Pa.’s 2011-12 Budget: Doing Less with More

The Pennsylvania Legislature has approved a 2011-12 General Fund budget that makes deep cuts to education, health care and other cost-effective local services, while cutting taxes for business and leaving most of a $650 million revenue surplus untouched.

You can view our budget highlights post here. I also issued the following statement on the budget’s passage:

The Legislature has adopted a budget that does less with more, cutting services to children while leaving most of a $650 million revenue surplus on the table.

The budget reflects a set of priorities that few Pennsylvanians share. It reduces the number of teachers in the classroom, raises college tuition, and increases local property taxes in order to meet an artificial spending number.

This budget provides tax breaks to businesses but cuts funding to homeless shelters and Meals on Wheels. It gives natural gas drillers a free pass, once again.

Pennsylvania’s economy grew more quickly than the nation in 2010, but that growth has begun to stall. Cutting jobs and services will have a ripple effect through our communities that will make a robust recovery even harder to achieve.

This budget fails to put people first. It continues a pattern in Harrisburg of balancing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable and shifting more state costs onto local taxpayers. That’s bad news for middle-class families, taxpayers and the economy.

Philadelphia Mayor Vetoes Paid Sick Leave Bill

( – promoted by John Morgan)

A blog post from Stephen Herzenberg, originally published on Third and State.

Some bad news out of Philadelphia Tuesday – Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed legislation that would have allowed every worker in the city to earn paid sick days.

As Lonnie Golden, a professor of economics and labor studies at Penn State Abington, and I wrote in an op-ed earlier this month, a paid sick days law would be good for business, good for the economy and good for public health in Philadelphia.

The public seems to agree. Seven in 10 Philadelphians supported the bill, according to a recent poll.

As we wrote in our op-ed:

Paid sick days are good for business and the community, as well as for families. Businesses save because worker turnover declines, lowering hiring costs and eliminating lost productivity as new workers get up to speed.

The cost of hiring is high compared to paying for sick days because managers and human-resource professionals who recruit earn more than lower-wage workers. Businesses also save because paid sick days reduce worker resentment and improve worker-manager relations.

The community benefits because, when sick workers stay home, disease doesn’t spread to other workers or to customers. Workers also obtain more timely medical care and recover faster, reducing lost productivity and holding down health-care costs.

Hopefully, City Council will agree and override the Mayor’s veto when it reconvenes in September.

An Overview of Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 State Budget

( – promoted by John Morgan)

State legislative leaders and Governor Tom Corbett agreed on a 2011-12 state budget deal this week, and on Tuesday, the state Senate approved it on a 30-20 party-line vote. The bill heads to the House of Representatives next.

It would spend just $27.2 billion, down $962 million, or 3.4%, from the 2010-11 budget.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will have a detailed analysis of the budget later in the week, but for now we will highlight funding levels for major programs. You can view budget tables detailing funding levels by major department and highlights of education funding levels.

Education

The biggest cuts, in both dollars and percentages, are in education programs, including PreK-12 and higher education. While the budget makes some funding restorations from the Governor’s original budget proposal, the cuts are still significant:

  • Basic education funding, at $5.35 billion is cut $421.5 million, or 7.3%, from the current year.
  • Funding for Accountability Block Grants, at $100 million, is cut by $159 million, or 61%.
  • Special education is flat-funded for the third year at just over $1 billion.
  • Charter School reimbursements are fully eliminated (a loss of $224 million).
  • Funding was also eliminated for Educational Assistance (a tutoring program) and school improvement grants.
  • Both Head Start and PreK Counts were cut by about 3%.

The cuts in major education programs total $863 million.

Higher education fared much better under the final budget but still sustained cuts of about 18%, or $160 million. Penn State University received a cut of 19%, or $50 million, in basic support. Community colleges will see a 10% cut, or $23.6 million.

Health Care and Public Welfare

Total spending in the Department of Public Welfare fell by just 0.4% from current expenditure levels, but that number masks reductions in health care and other services for vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

Funding was cut for Medical Assistance-Outpatient ($24.4 million) and for Medical Assistance-Capitation ($12.7 million). Funding for Medical Assistance-Inpatient was increased $18.5 million. The Medical Assistance Transportation Program was cut $8.5 million.

Funding for county child welfare was cut by 4%, or $45 million. Child care funding is cut by 10%, or $35 million. $3.3 million was restored for community-based family centers, which saw all $6.3 million of their funding erased in the Governor’s budget.

Cash grants were cut by 16%, or $44 million. Funding for the TANF job training and support program – New Directions – was just about cut in half to $17.2 million.

Behavioral health funding was cut by 10%. or $5.3 million. Funding for health care clinics was cut from $2.5 million down to $1 million.

Housing and Other Services

The Governor’s budget had zeroed out more than $23.5 million provided through the Human Services Development Fund to give counties flexible funds for human services such as housing assistance, adult day care, home delivered meals and transportation services. The final budget restores the fund to $14.9 million, still a cut of $8.5 million.

The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program is cut from $10.5 million down to $2 million. $17.8 million for housing and redevelopment assistance is gone.

Detailed Budget Analysis to Come

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will put out a more detailed budget analysis later in the week. Check our web site for updates.

Double Standards! The U.S. on Domestic vs. Global Internet Policy

( – promoted by John Morgan)

Just this month, the United States signed on to a Human Rights Council statement praising freedom of expression on the Internet, along with forty other countries across the world. The purpose of the statement is to emphasize how integral modern-day communications technologies are for the promotion of basic human rights.  You would naturally expect the United States, leader of the free world, to be a signatory — but can the recent slew of restrictive legislation being pushed through Congress allow the U.S. to support a globally open Internet in good faith??  Let’s take a look at the inconsistencies:
  • The HRC statement says: “We consider Government-initiated closing down of the Internet, or major parts thereof, for purposes of suppressing free speech, to be in violation of freedom of expression. In addition, Governments should not mandate a more restrictive standard for intermediaries than is the case with traditional media regarding freedom of expression or hold intermediaries liable for content that they transmit or disseminate.”
  • Yet, Senate Bill 978 — the "Ten Strikes Bill" — would make unlicensed online streaming (by corporations or individual Internet users) a felony punishable by 5 years in prison.

  • The HRC statement continues: “All users, including persons with disabilities, should have greatest possible access to Internet-based content, applications and services, whether or not they are offered free of charge. In this context, network neutrality and openness are important objectives. Cutting off users from access to the Internet is generally not a proportionate sanction.
  • Yet, Senate Bill 968 — the PROTECT IP Act or "Internet Blacklist Bill" — would give the government the power to force Internet service providers, search engines, and other "information location tools" to block users' access to sites that have been accused of copyright infringement.
  • HRC: “For us, one principle is very basic: The same rights that people have offline – freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek information, freedom of assembly and association, amongst others – must also be protected online.”
  • But the Obama administration is facilitating a "three strikes" style deal between Internet Service Providers and intellectual property rights holders to reduce bandwidth and restrict web access to certain sites for users who have been accused of copyright infringement.

If you can’t stand for such hypocrisy on the part of the US government, sign our petitions below:

You can read the full text of the HRC statement here, as well as the UN report on pro-Internet freedom being praised here.

Setting the Record Straight on Marcellus Shale Jobs in Pennsylvania

A blog post from Stephen Herzenberg, originally published on Third and State.

The Keystone Research Center made The Wall Street Journal last week in  a story on what the media is characterizing as a “political tussle” over the number of Pennsylvania jobs created in Marcellus Shale-related industries.

On Tuesday, we released a brief showing that less than 10,000 Pennsylvania jobs have been created in Marcellus industries since the end of 2007. The brief corrected recent press reports that confused “new hires” with “new jobs” and made the inaccurate claim that 48,000 new Marcellus jobs had been created. “New hires” and “new jobs” are not the same because most new hires replace people who quit, were fired, or retired.

In the same period that Marcellus industries reported 48,000 new hires (the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2011), there were 2.8 million “new hires” in all Pennsylvania industries – but only 85,467 jobs created. To measure job growth you have to use – big surprise – a jobs data base. That’s what we did.

Within hours of releasing our policy brief, the Marcellus Shale Coalition came out with a statement that:

  • Called our brief a “politically-timed attack.” (The timing actually reflected the time it took us to write the brief once the press misinterpretations began to multiply.)
  • Said “the rhetoric of opponents of Pennsylvania’s clean and abundant energy supply is simply not squaring with reality.”
  • Said we were “attempting to trivialize [people’s] new employment opportunities simply to fulfill a political agenda” and “demean[ing] the very people who are employed.” (The Marcellus Shale Coalition lectures the Keystone Research Center on the need to respect working people – “Excellent.” “Party on Wayne.”)
  • And included a couple dozen Coalition talking points that contained information that was either in our brief or not relevant to the job creation issue that we addressed.

The statement from the Marcellus Shale Coalition did not challenge the central point of our brief because it couldn’t. (The Coalition knows full well that new hires are not new jobs, as a close reading of a recent Coalition presentation and press release makes clear.)

The next day we got attacked by the state Republican Party Executive Director. He added his own pejorative labels (e.g., “extreme, liberal point of view”) before repeating the mistaken claim that “the Marcellus industry has created 48,000 jobs.” Say it often enough and it becomes true; is that the operative theory here?

Late last Wednesday, we issued a statement responding to these attack. By Friday, The Associated Press had reported on it, and the story was picked up by the Journal.

We think this exchange provides important insight into some differences between the Marcellus Shale Coalition and the Keystone Research Center. We recognize there are differences in values and policy positions among groups that seek to influence public policy, but nonetheless believe in political discourse based on logic, facts, and, when possible, a search for common ground. We think the Coalition’s behavior reveals a different perspective.

Given the heat that the gas industry is now taking nationally for distorting reality, the Coalition may want to change its behavior.

When the Coalition is ready to engage in civil discourse and work to jointly craft Pennsylvania policies that deliver profitability for the gas industry, more jobs and long-term prosperity for Pennsylvanians, and protection for the state’s water supplies and environment, it should let us know.

Third and State This Week: Insurance Exchanges, Marcellus Drilling Impact Fee and Unemployment Bene

This week, we blogged about a state legislative hearing on structuring insurance exchanges, 11 things to hate about the state Senate drilling impact fee bill, the fine print on a compromise reached to continue federal extended unemployment benefits to 45,000 Pennsylvanians, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On health care, Intern Emma Lowenberg has a nice summary of a Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee informational meeting this week that featured a presentation on how Massachusetts structured its state health insurance exchange and what Pennsylvania can learn from it as it moves toward creating its own.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward blogs about the top 11 things to hate about the state Senate drilling impact fee bill.
  • On jobs and unemployment, Stephen Herzenberg takes a closer look at the compromise reached in the Pennsylvania Legislature last week that allowed 45,000 unemployed workers (and another 90,000 through the end of the year) to continue receiving extended federal unemployment benefits.
  • Finally, on poverty, Chris Lilienthal passes on an update from Community Legal Services in Philadelphia on a class action lawsuit that is proceeding on behalf of 359,000 low-income Pennsylvanians who are blind, disabled or elderly and saw a cut in early 2010 to a modest state benefit.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Marriage Equality in New York

The New York Senate passed and Gov. Cuomo signed a marriage equality law in New York last night.  Thus the Empire State becomes the sixth American state to support full marriage equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.  The Supreme Court has declared marriage to be a basic federal right fourteen times.  As such the constitution guarantees all Americans equal rights under law.  Because DOMA has yet to be repealed or declared unconstitutional (unlikely with the current Supreme Court) individual states must pass their own marriage equality laws.  While the trend is definitely towards equality Pennsylvania remains mired in medieval thinking centered around bigotry and intolerance.

From AFER:

Zablocki v. Redhail (1978):  Marriage is a right of fundamental importance.  Although Loving arose in racial context, the decisions of this Court confirm that the “right to marry is of fundamental importance to all individuals.”  “The most important relation in life.”

Loving v. Virginia (1967):  “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”  “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man'” quoting Skinner.

Griswold v. Conn. (1965):  “[Marriage is] a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights – older than our political parties, older than our school systems.  Marriage is a coming together . . . hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.  It is an association . . . a harmony in living . . . a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.”

Because marriage equality is denied to Pennsylvanians 1, 138 federal rights conferred on married couples are denied to LGBT Pennsylvanians making us second class citizens.  In America the only class systems are economic (all of us are second class to the richest 2%).  The argument this is a state’s rights issue, if you recall, was also used to prevent interracial marriage and school segregation.  It has been a tool of southern extremists throughout our history.

In fact when California attempted to block marriage equality U.S. District Court affirmed in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that “…Because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”  Regardless New York did the right thing last night and advanced civil rights for LGBT citizens in that state.  Perhaps now Pennsylvanians being discriminated against can visit the Empire State to gain full citizenship.

Obama Speech on Advanced Manufacturing Partnership

Barack Obama toured the robotics lab at CMU and met Ned one of the advanced robots developed there.  He also operated a small robot designed to go through and inspect sewer lines.  looking at the DARPA car he quipped “they don’t let me drive.”  He then addressed the assembled group with these remarks:

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello!  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Thank you.  Hello, Pittsburgh!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back.  Thank you, Senator Casey, and Mayor Ravenstahl, County Executive Dan Onorato, State Auditor Jack Wagner, and all of you for having me back here at Carnegie Mellon.  It is good to be here.

And it seems like every time I’m here I learn something.  So, for those of you who are thinking about Carnegie Mellon, it’s a terrific place, and you guys are doing just great work.

I just met with folks from some cutting-edge companies and saw some of their inventions here in your National Robotics Engineering Center.  But that’s not the only reason I’m here.  You might not know this, but one of my responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief is to keep an eye on robots.  (Laughter.)  And I’m pleased to report that the robots you manufacture here seem peaceful — (laughter) — at least for now.

This is a city that knows something about manufacturing.  For generations of Americans, it was the ticket to a middle-class life.  Here and across America’s industrial heartland, millions clocked in each day at foundries and on assembly lines to make things.  And the stuff we made — steel, cars, planes — was the stuff that made America what it is.  The jobs were good.  They paid enough to own a home, to raise kids, send them to college, to retire.  They were jobs that told us something more important than just how much money we made, what was in our paycheck.  These jobs also told us that we were meeting our responsibilities to our family and to our neighborhoods, and building our communities, and building our country.

But for better and worse, our generation has been pounded by wave after wave of profound economic change.  Revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live and the way we work. Businesses and industries can relocate anywhere in the world, anywhere that there are skilled workers, anywhere that there is an Internet connection.  And companies have learned to become more efficient with fewer employees.  In Pittsburgh, you know this as well as anybody — steel mills that once needed a thousand workers now do the same work with a hundred.

And while these changes have resulted in great wealth for some Americans and have drastically increased productivity, they’ve also caused major disruptions for many others.  Today, a high school diploma no longer guarantees you a job.  Over the past 13 years, about a third of our manufacturing jobs have vanished.  And meanwhile, the typical worker’s wages have barely kept up with the rising costs of everything else.  And all this was even before a financial crisis and recession that pounded the middle class even more.

Now, we’ve made some tough decisions that have turned our economy in a positive direction over the past two years.  We’ve created more than 2 million new jobs in the private sector over the past 15 months alone, including almost 250,000 in manufacturing.  But we still have to confront those underlying problems.  They weren’t caused overnight, and we won’t solve them overnight.  But we will solve them.  And we’re starting to solve them right here in Pittsburgh, and right here at Carnegie Mellon. (Applause.)

And by the way, that’s why I ran for President.  Not just to get us back to where we were — I ran for President to get us to where we need to be.  I have a larger vision for America — one where working families feel secure, feel like they are moving forward and that they know that their dreams are within reach; an America where our businesses lead the world in new technologies like clean energy; where we work together, Democrats and Republicans, to live within our means, to cut our deficit and debt, but also to invest in what our economy needs to grow — world-class education, cutting-edge research, and building the best transportation and communication infrastructure anywhere in the world.  That’s what it’s going to take for us to win the future.  And winning the future begins with getting our economy moving right now.

And that’s why we’re here.  Carnegie Mellon is a great example of what it means to move forward.  At its founding, no one would have imagined that a trade school for the sons and daughters of steelworkers would one day become the region’s largest — one of the region’s largest employers and a global research university.  And yet, innovations led by your professors and your students have created more than 300 companies and 9,000 jobs over the past 15 years — companies like Carnegie Robotics.

But more important than the ideas that you’ve incubated are what those ideas have become:  They’ve become products made right here in America and, in many cases, sold all over the world.  And that’s in our blood.  That’s who we are.  We are inventors, and we are makers, and we are doers.

If we want a robust, growing economy, we need a robust, growing manufacturing sector.  That’s why we told the auto industry two years ago that if they were willing to adapt, we’d stand by them.  Today, they’re profitable, they’re creating jobs, and they’re repaying taxpayers ahead of schedule.  (Applause.)

That’s why we’ve launched a partnership to retrain workers with new skills.  That’s why we’ve invested in clean energy manufacturing and new jobs building wind turbines and solar panels and advanced batteries.  We have not run out of stuff to make.  We’ve just got to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector so that it leads the world the way it always has — from paper and steel and cars to new products that we haven’t even dreamed up yet.  That’s how we’re going to strengthen existing industries; that’s how we’re going to spark new ones.  That’s how we’re going to create jobs, grow the middle class, and secure our economic leadership.

And this is why I asked my Council of Advisors on Science and Technology — what we call PCAST — a while back to look at the state of American manufacturing and the promise of advanced manufacturing.  The concept of advanced manufacturing is not complicated.  It means how do we do things better, faster, cheaper to design and manufacture superior products that allow us to compete all over the world.

And so these very smart folks, many of whom are represented here, wrote up a report which is now up on the White House website.  But we didn’t want to just issue a report, we wanted to actually get something done.  So we’ve launched an all-hands-on-deck effort between our brightest academic minds, some of our boldest business leaders, and our most dedicated public servants from science and technology agencies, all with one big goal, and that is a renaissance of American manufacturing.

We’re calling it AMP, A-M-P — the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  It’s made up of some of the most advanced engineering universities, like Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Berkeley, Michigan; some of our most innovative manufacturers, from Johnson & Johnson to Honeywell, Stryker to Allegheny Technologies.  I’ve asked Susan Hockfield, the President of MIT, who is here — there’s Susan — (applause) — and Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical — (applause) — to lead this partnership, and to work with my own advisors on science, technology and manufacturing.

Throughout our history, our greatest breakthroughs have often come from partnerships just like this one.  American innovation has always been sparked by individual scientists and entrepreneurs, often at universities like Carnegie Mellon or Georgia Tech or Berkeley or Stanford.  But a lot of companies don’t invest in early ideas because it won’t pay off right away. And that’s where government can step in.  That’s how we ended up with some of the world-changing innovations that fueled our growth and prosperity and created countless jobs — the mobile phone, the Internet, GPS, more than 150 drugs and vaccines over the last 40 years was all because we were able to, in strategic ways, bring people together and make some critical investments.

I’ll take one example.  The National Science Foundation helped fund Stanford’s Digital Library Project in the 1990s.  The idea was to develop a universal digital library that anybody could access.  So two enterprising Ph.D. students got excited about the research that was being done at Stanford — this is funded by NSF.  So these two Ph.D. students, they moved from campus to a friend’s garage, and they launched this company called Google.  And when the private sector runs with the ball, it then leads to jobs, building and selling, that is successful all over the world.

This new partnership that we’ve created will make sure tomorrow’s breakthroughs are American breakthroughs.  (Applause.) We’re teaming up to foster the kind of collaborative R&D that resulted in those same early discoveries, and to create the kind of innovation infrastructure necessary to get ideas from the drawing board to the manufacturing floor to the market more rapidly — all of which will make our businesses more competitive and create new, high-quality manufacturing jobs.

Now, to help businesses operate at less cost, the Energy Department will develop new manufacturing processes and materials that use half as much energy.  That will free up more money for companies to hire new workers or buy new equipment.

To help businesses discover, develop, and deploy new materials twice as fast, we’re launching what we call the Materials Genome Initiative.  The invention of silicon circuits and lithium-ion batteries made computers and iPods and iPads possible — but it took years to get those technologies from the drawing board to the marketplace.  We can do it faster.

To help everyone from factory workers to astronauts carry out more complicated tasks, NASA and other agencies will support research into next-generation robotics.  And I just met with folks from a local company, RedZone Robotics, who make robots that explore water and sewer pipes.  And I have to say, it is fascinating stuff, when you watch — the robot is about this big. It can go through any sewer system.  It’s operated remotely by the municipal worker.  It’s got a camera attached so it can film everything that it’s seeing.  It then transmits the data.  It goes into a citywide database, and can enhance the productivity of these workers by three or fourfold, and help the city make even better decisions.  Potentially this can save cities millions in infrastructure costs.  Companies also are training new workers to operate the robots, and analysts to pore through the data that’s being collected.

To help smaller manufacturers compete, federal agencies are working with private companies to make powerful, often unaffordable modeling and simulation software easier to access.  And I just saw an example.  A few years ago, Procter & Gamble teamed up with the researchers at Los Alamos National Labs to adapt software developed for war to figure out what’s happening with nuclear particles, and they are using these simulators to dramatically boost the performance of diapers.  (Laughter.)  Yes, diapers.  Folks chuckle, but those who’ve been parents — (laughter) — are always on the lookout for indestructible, military-grade diapers.  (Laughter and applause.)

But here’s what’s remarkable:  Using this simulation software that was developed at Los Alamos, Procter & Gamble has saved $500 million — half a billion dollars — as a consequence of this simulator.  Now, through the new partnership that we’re setting up, Procter & Gamble is offering its powerful fluid dynamics simulator to smaller manufacturers, and it’s doing it for free.

Now, this is not just because Procter & Gamble wants to do good.  It’s also they’ve got thousands of suppliers, and they’re thinking to themselves, if we can apply this simulation technology to our smaller suppliers they’re going to be able to make their products cheaper and better, then that, in turn, is going to save us even more money.  And it has a ripple effect throughout the economy.

Starting this summer, federal agencies will partner with industries to boost manufacturing in areas critical to our national security.  I just saw an example backstage.  The Defense Department scientists — we call it DARPA — the folks who brought us stealth technology and, by the way, who brought us the Internet — wanted to see if it was possible to design defense systems cheaper and faster.  So they found a small company in Arizona called Local Motors, and they gave them a test:  You have one month to design a new combat support vehicle, and you’ve got three months to build it.

Their CEO, Jay Rogers, is here today, and as an ex-Marine who lost a couple of buddies in combat, understood the importance of increasing the speed and adaptability and flexibility of our manufacturing process for vehicles that are used in theater.

So Local Motors solicited design ideas on their website, chose the best out of 162 that it received, built and brought this new vehicle here ahead of schedule.  We just took a look at it.  Not only could this change the way the government uses your tax dollars — because think about it, instead of having a 10-year lead time to develop a piece of equipment with all kinds of changing specs and a moving target, if we were able to collapse the pace at which that manufacturing takes place, that could save taxpayers billions of dollars.  But it also could get products out to theater faster, which could save lives more quickly, and could then be used to transfer into the private sector more rapidly, which means we could get better products and services that we can sell and export around the world.  So it’s good for American companies.  It’s good for American jobs.  It’s good for taxpayers.  And it may save some lives in places like Afghanistan for our soldiers.

So that’s what this is all about.  As futuristic and, let’s face it, as cool as some of this stuff is, as much as we are planning for America’s future, this partnership is about new, cutting-edge ideas to create new jobs, spark new breakthroughs, reinvigorate American manufacturing today.  Right now.  Not somewhere off in the future — right now.

It’s about making sure our workers and businesses have the skills and the tools they need to compete better, faster, and smarter than anybody else.  That’s what we’re about.  We are America, and we don’t just keep up with changing times, we set the pace for changing times.  (Applause.)  We adapt; we innovate; we lead the way forward.  (Applause.)  

It’s worth remembering, there was a time when steel was about as advanced as manufacturing got.  But when the namesake of this university, Andrew Carnegie — an immigrant, by the way — discovered new ways to mass-produce steel cheaply, everything changed.  Just 20 years after founding his company, not only was it the largest, most profitable in the world, America had become the number one steelmaker in the world.

Now, imagine if America was first to develop and mass-produce a new treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched; or solar cells you can brush onto a house for the same cost as paint; or flexible display soldiers — flexible displays that soldiers can wear on their arms; or a car that drives itself.  Imagine how many workers and businesses and consumers would prosper from those breakthroughs.

Those things aren’t science fiction — they’re real.  They’re being developed and deployed in labs and factories and on test tracks right now.  They sprang from the imagination of students and scientists and entrepreneurs like all of you.  And the purpose of this partnership is to prove that the United States of America has your back, is going to be supporting you — because that’s the kind of adventurous, pioneering spirit that we need right now.  (Applause.)

That’s the spirit that’s given us the tools and toughness to overcome every obstacle and adapt to every circumstance.  And if we remember that spirit, if we combine our creativity, our innovation, and our optimism, if we come together in common cause, as we’ve done so many times before, then we will thrive again.  We will get to where we need to be.  And we will make this century the American century just like the last one was.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)  God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Mary Bricker-Jenkins and Neighborhood Networks urge support for Cheri Honkala for Sheriff in Philly

Two recent updates to Cheri Honkala’s website show exciting signs of support for a campaign based on the promise to keep people in their homes and help give communities control over their land.

The first is from Mary Bricker-Jenkins, a social worker, author, and professor emeritus at Temple urging her fellow social workers to support Cheri in any way they can.  She wrote, in part,

You came into social work because you wanted change.

You learned quickly that we need fundamental, systemic change.

The “change we could believe in” hasn’t delivered.

So let’s listen to Ghandi:

We need to BE the change we wish to see in the world. . .

That’s why Cheri Honkala, co-founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC),is running for sheriff in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the Green Party ticket.

Neighborhood Networks is an organization in Philly that has, as far as I know, always been a progressive Democratic group.  In their message of support urging members to help get Cheri on the ballot, Neighborhood Networks said,

[T]here are

two races that Neighborhood Networks may well want to put resources into

in the Fall.  In one of those races, it’s time to act NOW.

Immediate action is needed in the race for Sheriff if we hope to have

any real choice in November.  That’s because Cheri Honkala, a Green

Party candidate that we may want to support, needs help just to get on

the ballot. The two major parties may not agree on much, but they do

agree that it’s in their interest to make it really hard for third party

candidates to compete.  So just for us to have a choice, Cheri needs

4,000 signatures of Philadelphia registered voters.  She aims to collect

them by July 1.

The Sheriff’s office is an object of scandal right now, with the

Controller having found that $53 million in fees is unaccounted for.  So

job one is to clean the place up.  But then it’s also important that

the Sheriff’s office operate in the public interest.  If Cheri is on the

ballot, she will bring to the election a lively debate about whether the

public interest at this time of growing economic distress and growing

homelessness requires that evictions be stopped.  We need to have that

debate.

So, if you’d like to get Cheri on the ballot, please call her at

888-434-7914.  Or just drop into her office at 718 Market Street and

offer to help out.