State OVR Budget Needs Our Support

By John Horst, Director of Community Affairs

Included in the proposed state budget as presented by Governor Tom Wolf to the state legislature is a $5 million increase in funding for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), which includes the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS). This funding, when approved for OVR, will generate an additional $13 million in federal matching money to provide a total of $18 million. For the last several years, OVR and BBVS have been level-funded, so it is critical that this additional support for vocational rehabilitation services remains in the state budget when approved for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Through the month of June, and perhaps into July, this budget is being negotiated by legislators and the governor’s office. The key legislators to contact regarding this issue are the leaders of both the PA Senate and the PA House, along with the members of both the Labor and Industry Committees and Appropriations Committees in both bodies.

Many of us have received career assistance, blindness skill instruction, and adaptive device procurement from Pennsylvania’s Vocational Rehabilitation program. It is now our opportunity to assist this program by advocating for this additional funding. It would be most unfortunate to not have this $5 million approved and also lose out on the $13 million federal match.

Below I have listed the key legislators, with contact information, from the committees and leadership indicated above. If the state budget is not approved by the time you read this, it is vitally important that these persons hear from us to be certain that this funding remains in the 2015-2016 state budget. Please call your own legislators and the ones listed below. Thank you for responding to this critical issue.

Senator Mike Stack, President
200 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA 17120

Senator Joseph Scarnati III, President Pro Tempore
Senate Box 203025
Harrisburg PA 17120-3025
Room: 292 Main Capitol

Senator John Blake, Minority Vice Chair, Appropriations
Senate Box 203022
Harrisburg PA 17120-3022
Room: 17 East Wing

Senator Patrick M. Browne, Chair, Appropriations
Senate Box 203016
Harrisburg PA 17120-3016
Room: 281 Main Capitol

Senator Jake Corman, Appropriations ex-officio
Senate Box 203034
Harrisburg PA 17120-3034
Room: 350 Main Capitol

Senator Jay Costa, Appropriations, ex-officio
Senate Box 203043
Harrisburg PA 17120-3043
Room: 535 Main Capitol

Senator John Gardner, Whip
Senate Box 203027
Harrisburg PA 17120-3027
Room: 177 Main Capitol

Senator Vincent Hughes, Appropriations, Minority Chair
Senate Box 203007
Harrisburg PA 17120-3007
Room: 545 Main Capitol

Senator Lisa Baker, Labor and Industry, Chair
Senate Box 203020
Harrisburg PA 17120-3020
Room: 362 Main Capitol

Senator Scott Wagner, Labor and Industry, Vice-Chair
Senate Box 203028
Harrisburg PA 17120-3028
Room: 187 Main Capitol

Hon. Mike Turzai, Speaker
139 Main Capitol
P.O. Box 202028
Harrisburg PA 17120-2028
Hon. Dave Reed, Majority Leader
110 Main Capitol Building
P.O. Box 202062
Harrisburg PA 17120-2062

Hon. Frank Dermody
423 Main Capitol Building
P.O. Box 202033
Harrisburg PA 17120-2033

Hon. Bryan Cutler, Majority Whip
121 Main Capitol Building
P.O. Box 202100
Harrisburg PA 17120-2100

Hon. William Adolph, Appropriations, Chair
245 Main Capitol Building
P.O. Box 202165
Harrisburg PA 17120-2165

Hon. Mauree Gingrich, Labor and Industry, Chair
106 Ryan Office Building
P.O. Box 202101
Harrisburg PA 17120-2101

Hon. John T. Galloway, Labor and Industry, Vice-Chair
104 Irvis Office Building
P.O. Box 202140
Harrisburg PA 17120-2140

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