Governor Tom Wolf commended the introductions of Senate Bill 1176, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Williams, and House Bill 2380, sponsored by Reps. Rob Matzie and Kevin Boyle, to appropriate $2 million in state funds to aid Ukrainian refugee resettlement efforts in Pennsylvania. This proposed legislation follows Gov. Wolf’s call to the General Assembly to continue supportive actions and efforts to sever financial ties with Russia.
“Pennsylvania was founded on the ideals of peace, tolerance, and safety for all people, and we will continue to model these ideals and be a welcoming home for any who seek safe refuge in the United States,” Gov. Wolf said. “I am pleased to see the introduction of this legislation in our General Assembly to support necessary efforts in resettling Ukrainian refugees. This proposed funding will allow the commonwealth the flexibility to invest in refugee services quickly and efficiently, and ultimately provide a safe haven for these individuals.”
In the proposed legislation, the $2 million state funds will be awarded to the Department of Human Services Refugee Resettlement Program’s contracted providers. The funding will be used to supplement existing federal investments and create faster and more flexible ways to deliver expanded services that will help refugee populations find and retain employment, achieve self-sufficiency, and fully integrate into their communities including:
- Securing short and long-term housing, or other housing coordination initiatives;
- Targeted English-as-Second-Language education and support;
- Occupational skills and training to prepare individuals for in-demand jobs in Pennsylvania; and
- (Re)certification courses for arrivals with degrees oversees that are not transferrable to the United States.
“The first Ukrainian refugees are beginning to arrive in Pennsylvania this week, and the agencies ready to receive them need our support,” said Senator Williams. “Over 4 million people have fled Ukraine, leaving behind almost everything as they escaped Russia’s unprovoked attack on their homes and way of life. The New Neighbors Fund created by SB 1176 will allow our agencies on the ground to serve these refugees and meet their immediate needs as they arrive here in Pennsylvania and begin to heal and rebuild from the trauma they’ve experienced.”
“This is not some crisis affecting strangers on the nightly news,” said Rep. Matzie. “These are our neighbors’ families. This is local. This is real. This is touching our communities. It is time to again open our communities’ doors and hearts to welcome newcomers to our commonwealth.”
“Pennsylvania has a legacy of welcoming people fleeing oppression, and the same holds true now. I’m proud to support a plan to help Ukrainians who resettle in our communities,” said Rep. Boyle.
Today, Pennsylvania is home to more than 122,000 Ukrainians, the second most of any U.S. state.
“Pennsylvania stands ready to support Ukrainians fleeing their country and would welcome them here in the commonwealth,” said Gov. Wolf. “Thank you to the members of the General Assembly for proposing this critical legislation that I look forward signing into law when it lands on my desk.”
From day one, Gov. Wolf has stood with Ukraine and will continue to do everything in his power to support the country and its people. Most recently, the Wolf Administration has partnered with the Pennsylvania State Police and Capitol Police to donate body armor for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Additionally, Pennsylvania is one of the largest purchasers of liquor in the United States, and Gov. Wolf was one of the first governors to urge a stop on the sale of Russian-made liquor in state stores, which was quickly acted upon, as well as successfully calling on the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System to divest from Russia.