Monday, August 24, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: August 24, 2009

PA Budget: Calling Eric Bruntlett?

Today is the 55th day of the fiscal year and Pennsylvania is still without a complete state budget. Three weeks ago. the House passed legislation approving the $27.3 billion Senate spending plan. The Governor then used his line-item veto to delete many of the budget items, leaving $11 billion to pay state workers and fund services essential to public protection. Last week, the Senate attempted to override some of the Governor’s line-item vetoes but they were unsuccessful. The Governor plans to hold a press conference today at 1:30.

While state workers have begun receiving paychecks and some essential services have received funds, many institutions and organizations that rely on state funding will have to go without until the remainder of the budget is passed. These include schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations that may have to make tough decisions that could lead to laying-off workers, cutting services, or having to close their doors because their funding is tied up until the budget is passed (see United Way Survey below). If you work for one of these organizations or if the services you rely on have been cut, please tell your story! Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or tell your story to PathWays PA. We will share these stories on our blog and in our e-newsletters.

At this point, many of you have probably seen or heard about the great unassisted triple-play made yesterday by Phillies player Eric Bruntlett. Though not an everyday player, Bruntlett had several hits in the game, and, despite some missteps in the 9th inning, made one of the rarest plays in baseball to end the game for the Phillies.

It may be time to start asking legislators to be the Eric Bruntlett of the PA Budget Debate. Everyone has made missteps throughout this budget process. But while the Phillies could have survived a loss yesterday, our state cannot survive the loss of the many services and programs that Pennsylvanians rely on – a loss that has already begun.

If you are upset about the budget proposals, which include cuts ranging from education to hospitals to the elimination of the Industry Partnership program, please tell your legislators how you would finish this sentence: “If the choice is between reducing/eliminating spending on hospitals, burn units, Industry Partnerships, and childcare, or increasing revenues, I would support…”

During this recession, some budget cuts are inevitable. But too many cuts will lead to long-term impacts on our families, our health, and our economy at a time when we can’t afford to do without.


Federal

Urge Your Legislators to Fund Nutrition Program

The House and Senate recently passed a version of the Agriculture Appropriations bill and are negotiating the differences in the Conference Committee. Please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to champion nutrition program funding in the conference. This funding is vital to provide critically needed food and nutrition support for low-income families and individuals. Members of the House and Senate Subcommittee are the first contacts to make, followed by other House and Senate members. FRAC is also offering a comparison of the House and Senate nutrition program funding levels.

For additional information, contact Ellen Teller, eteller@frac.org, 202-986-2200, x3013 or Etienne Melcher, emelcher@frac.org, x3012.


State

United Way Survey

The United Way released the results of a survey of 500 non-profit organizations that shows how they are being affected by the budget crisis. The organizations surveyed, most of which contract with state and county governments to provide social services, rely on $150 million in state and local funding to provide services, pay their employees, and pay their bills.

Of the organizations surveyed:
  • Almost 70 percent will have to cut or eliminate services if they are not paid by September 30th;
  • 1 in 4 are have already or are planning to layoff employees;
  • 35 percent are delaying bill payments;
  • 33 percent have missed a utility payment;
  • 34 percent have missed a rent payment;
  • 50 percent have delayed or postponed repairs, and;
  • 63% have reduced the amount of supplies.
Many of the surveyed non-profit organizations have not been paid since June and will not be paid until after a state budget is passed. Many federal grants to these organizations also flow through the state, preventing payment of the federal resources until the final budget is passed.

The survey results show that many non-profit organizations, which provide essential services all over the state, are on the brink of collapse and may have to close their doors if a responsible state budget is not passed soon.


Industry Partnership Program

Unfortunately, the importance and critical need of the Industry Partnership Program is getting lost in the state budget reporting.

Take Action! Industry Partnerships are consortiums that allow employers to improve and expand their workforce by bringing together companies committed to the development of their workforce.
  • This program provides workers with access to training that gives them the skills necessary to maintain jobs and obtain employment with sufficient wages so workers can adequately support their families.
  • In Pennsylvania, more than 6,300 businesses are involved with more than 70 Industry Partnerships across the state. More than 70,000 workers have been trained since 2005.
  • On average, those workers have seen their wages rise by 6.62 percent within the first year after receiving the training.
  • Read more about how the Industry Partnership program is helping in one county
  • Talking points are available from Workforce PA, as is a sample letter to send to legislators (please email wib@papartners.org with any legislators you contact as well).


Budget Rally

Join Pennsylvanians from around the region in the fight for essential services.

WHEN: August 26th, noon
WHERE: Media Courthouse, 201 West Front Street Media PA

Why should you attend? Because all Pennsylvanians are impacted by the budget stalemate.

Who is impacted?
police, teachers, case managers, caretakers, firefighters, pre-k teachers, artists, park employees, library employees, caretakers, peer supporters, chief executive officers, janitors, accountants, receptionists, trash collectors, operators, nurses, doctors, child care centers, single parents, human resources, recreation centers, senior centers, support staff of all kind, outreach workers, social workers, ambulance drivers, secretaries, IT staff, residential advisors, grocers, emergency room workers, hospital workers, AIDS services, mental health providers, homelessness and housing agencies, people with developmental disabilities, cultural programs, food programs, centers for independent living, children in foster care, youth services, children in after school programs, libraries, seniors, immigrant services, home health care and waiver services, people in hospice care, legal services, victims of domestic violence, victim services, educators, people with disabilities, workforce programs, adult literacy students, and violence prevention programs …….



ECE Works in PA Day!

The Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young People (PennAEYC) is sponsoring an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Works in PA Day on August 28th.

Leading up to the day, they are asking early childhood education providers to post flyers about the day and contact their legislators urging them to support funding in the state budget for child care, Pre-K Counts, and Head Start. PennAEYC is also requesting that providers ask parents to contact their legislators as well.

For a packet with information about ECE and ECE Works in PA Day please contact kjohnson@pennaeyc.org.


Help Support the LIHEAP Program

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), helps seniors and low income families pay their heating bills. Unfortunately, this program is one of many that may be cut this year. Some of the cuts proposed include reducing cash grants from $300 to $100 and crisis grants from $800 to $300. In addition, the time to apply will be shortened.
If these cuts are passed:
  • Thousands of families will not have the money they need to get their utility service re connected before the start of the heating system.
  • Many of the newly unemployed, not familiar with the LIHEAP program will miss the early deadlines and shortened application period and not receive the help to which they are entitled.
  • The reduced benefits will leave tens of thousands of families without enough help, leading to spring shut offs.
There is a statewide conference call scheduled for Tuesday, August 25th at 2:30 pm, to plan a press conference and other events to help people afford their heating bills. The call in number is: 717 901 0620 (no code is needed). Please join on the conference call and help ensure that individuals will not go cold this winter.


Information

Webinar: Update on Children’s Development Account Initiative and State Policy Opportunities

Join the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) as they provide an update and frame for discussion on some key Child Development Account (CDA) lessons as well as local, state, and federal initiatives and opportunities.

WHEN: August 27th 1:00 – 2:00 EST

The first results and lessons from CDAs demonstration efforts include the Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship and Downpayment Initiative (SEED) - made possible by several members of the Asset Funders Network and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. Moreover, interest in and activity around CDAs are growing at the federal, state, and local levels.

To register for the event please click here.


Financial Advice and Assistance – Get Help Now!

"Get Help Now PA!” is a volunteer initiative to connect Pennsylvanians facing financial difficulties with advice and assistance from professionals in their communities.
Volunteer professionals will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at locations across the Commonwealth to provide free assistance and referrals on issues related to credit, finance, and bankruptcy.

For more information, call toll-free 1-888-799-4557 or visit the Get Help PA website.

1 comment:

  1. I love the reference to Eric Bruntlett! Great analogy and so true!

    ReplyDelete