Gov. Wolf Reverses Unlawful Moves

Admist the budget stalemate, there is some welcome news out of Harrisburg. Within a single week, thousands of home care workers, educators, and taxpayers were relieved from the governor’s punitive – and unlawful – penalization.

Last week, Governor Wolf’s administration suspended a mandatory “orientation program” for Pennsylvania home care workers. The latest development in a unionization saga that began with the governor’s 2015 executive order, this program would have funneled $1.25 million in taxpayer funds to a SEIU-created organization.

The Fairness Center outlines the events:

The Wolf administration and a new SEIU-created nonprofit called the Training and Education Fund implemented a mandatory orientation program for new home care workers. The program mirrored a provision in Wolf’s executive order and, consequently, the Fairness Center’s clients alleged that it violated the court’s injunction. In July, the Fairness Center petitioned the Commonwealth Court to enforce its injunction and end the program.

In an August 30 hearing, the governor’s counsel quickly distanced itself from the program's provision requiring a meeting with a union representative, calling the provision a “mistake” and stating, “[T]hat [the provision], of course, would violate the injunction. Absolutely crystal clear on that. We don’t dispute that at all.”

Now, home care workers won’t have to spend their valuable time attending orientation for a union they don’t want to join. Likewise, precious Human Services resources will continue to benefit our most vulnerable populations – not a private, well-funded organization.

On the heels of this compliance turn-about, Gov. Wolf also reversed his previous decision to not release approval letters for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. In violation of state law, Wolf erroneously claimed he could not release tax credit approval letters without a complete state budget. The move put at risk funding for schools reliant upon these programs to serve impoverished students.

Roughly a week after school administrators, nonprofits, CF, and legislators across the state spoke out, the Governor stepped back and said he could release approval letters.

Though home care workers should never be threatened with forced union representation and life-changing scholarships never placed in jeopardy, it’s heartening to know that Pennsylvanians can hold their government accountable.