Wednesday, September 23, 2009

PathWays PA Special Budget Alert - September 23, 2009

There may be an agreement but until a budget is passed and signed, counties, non-profits, schools, hospitals, and many other organizations will continue to struggle to make ends meet without funding.

As we wait for a signed budget, preschools and other pre-kindergarten programs continue to shut their doors, along with child care centers and many other state programs. 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.

While there is much hope that we have reached the end of the budget impasse, there are no guarantees that this is the final version. Please continue to contact legislators and remind them of the programs that are important to Pennsylvania’s families, like the Industry Partnerships, Child Care Works, and Adult Education, and the need for funds to be distributed to service providers as quickly as possible after a budget is passed.


Budget Update

Governor Ed Rendell and the leaders of three legislative caucuses announced a $27.95 billion budget agreement last Friday night. The Governor announced his support of a modified version of the "three-caucus" budget proposal that had been making the rounds since September 10. While details about the agreement are still emerging, it is expected that the budget will include:
  • $27.9 billion in spending - this is $400 million less in spending than in the last fiscal year. Without federal stimulus dollars, the budget would be about $2 billion less than last year.
  • Increased business taxes and cigarette tax rates (and the expansion of the cigarette tax to cigarillos)
  • Extension of the sales tax to theater and concert tickets
  • Table games at casinos
Final adoption of the budget will unfortunately take more time as legislators need to draft and approve bills to legalize some sources of revenue, like table games at casinos. Some have predicted that it will not be until the end of September that the budget will be enacted. However, once the budget is passed, Governor Rendell has stated that the State Treasurer's office would work to get money out to service agencies as soon as possible.

Please continue to see our PathWays PA Policy Blog for updates on the budget and other important policy issues.


Budget Update: Philadelphia

On September 17, the Pennsylvania Senate approved a bill allowing Philadelphia to institute a temporary sales tax increase and to delay pension payments for two years. With this vote, Philadelphia was able to avoid the "Plan C" budget scenario, which would have closed libraries, cut police and firefighting jobs, and reduced trash pickup to once every two weeks.


Local Impact of Working Without a State Budget

While an agreement has been reached, many departments, organizations, and agencies are still without any funding. Below are some local examples of how the delay and the budget agreement truly affect different parts of the state.

Action Alerts

While an agreement has been reached, the budget will not be final until it is passed and signed. Until that time, legislators continue to work on the amount of funding programs and services will receive. Please continue to contact legislators and remind them of the programs that are important to you and to Pennsylvania’s families. Ask them to fast track funding to service providers so they can keep helping those in need.

Some of these programs include:


Industry Partnerships

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.
  • Please see two recent posts on the PathWays PA Policy Blog - Recent Op Ed: Killing Industry Partnership workforce training would be bad for Pa. and Another Op-Ed in Support of Industry Partnerships.
CHIP – Cover All Kids

Take Action! During the past three years, CHIP has provided comprehensive health insurance coverage for thousands of children throughout Pennsylvania who would not have been eligible without the Cover All Kids program.
  • However, current budget proposals rescind this CHIP provision, which could result in up to 12,000 kids being cut from the program.
  • Even during an economic crisis, it is important to pay attention to the long-term effects of short-term cuts.
  • A recent report from Rice University puts the cost of health insurance through age 18 at $7,451, while the benefits equate to as much as $15,000.
Child Care Work Subsidies

Take Action! The Child Care Works Subsidies allow parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care.
  • For many parents the cost of child care may be more than they bring home in a paycheck.
  • Currently in Pennsylvania, over 16,000 are eligible for the child care subsidies but are currently on the waitlist, where some families remain for months.
  • In the meantime, they must pay more than they can afford for child care, provide childcare through an unreliable patchwork of friends, family, or substandard facilities, or risk losing their jobs at a time when employment is hard to find.
  • For more information please see a new report from PCCY, “Child Care Works, A Program with a Growing Need
Adult Education and Family Literacy

Take Action! Adult education and family literacy are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to be or become self-sufficient. Please contact your representatives today to let them know the importance of this program!

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