Mullery concerned state facility closure program fails to protect impacted communities

HARRISBURG, March 15 – The State Facility Closure Transition Program, a measure designed to support communities and mitigate significant economic impact, authorized by Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is being scrutinized by state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, for its lack of recurring funding and failure to adequately protect those areas most affected by the governor’s decisions.

“Despite our initial satisfaction with this program’s inclusion in the 2020 budget, it was devastating to learn the administration had zero interest in a recurring funding program for these communities,” Mullery said.

Luzerne County is eligible for $2.1 million given the prorated number of employees residing in the county at the time of the facility closures. It is estimated Luzerne County, which lost over 800 jobs with the closures of SCI Retreat and White Haven Center, will suffer over $100 million in direct, annual economic impact. 

What is equally important to note has been this administration’s failure to adequately protect the communities directly impacted by the closures of SCI Retreat and the White Haven Center. Despite countless meetings with the administration, they have refused to incorporate language in this program guaranteeing money to the host communities. Instead, the fate of these communities now lies at the mercy of Luzerne County officials.

“From day one we’ve provided Governor Wolf with data and testimony showing the devastating and long-lasting impacts these closures will have on our local communities. And yet again, it appears our pleas have fallen on deaf and uncaring ears.

“I have already spoken with representatives from White Haven, Newport Township, Nanticoke City, and other municipalities and agencies directly affected by the closure of these state facilities and have asked that they outline and communicate their needs with the appropriate county officials. Additionally, I have spoken with County Manager Dave Pedri and asked that he and County Council step up to offer the protection our host communities deserve, yet Governor Wolf failed to provide,” Mullery said.