Wednesday, September 9, 2009

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - September 9

Today is day 70 of the Pennsylvania state budget stalemate. With no state budget in sight, preschools and other pre-kindergarten programs are shutting their doors, along with child care centers and many other state programs, while religious individuals yesterday resorted to prayer at a lunchtime vigil in Harrisburg.

Many institutions and organizations that rely on state funding continue to go without until the remainder of the budget is passed. These include schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations who are making tough decisions that could lead to layoffs, service cuts, or closing down their businesses because funding is tied up until the budget is passed.

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.

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. We need a budget now, but we also need one that supports our families.

For more information throughout the week on the budget and other issues, be sure to check out the PathWays PA Policy Blog.


Budget Update

It is now over 2 months since Pennsylvania was constitutionally mandated to have a complete budget passed. The Conference Committee met last week with little progress made and there are no further meetings scheduled. With talks stalled again, many are calling for legislators to come to a compromise.

House Bill 1943 was put forth in late August as a potential compromise, however, a closer look at that bill reveals many similarities to Senate Bill 850 which has deep cuts to essential services. Potential changes to the state sales tax have also been discussed over the past week. As we ask our legislators to come to a compromise and pass a budget we need to remember that they need to pass not just any budget, but the right budget for Pennsylvania.

Budget Update: Philadelphia

House Bill 1828 is not scheduled to be voted on by the House until Thursday. This bill contains provisions that would allow Philadelphia to raise its sales tax by one percentage point. It would also allow Philadelphia to defer portions of its pension obligations over the next two years. As amended by the Senate, a state board would take over local pension system that are funded at less than half of what they need to be solvent. This provision raised concerns of a variety of groups and local leaders, however, if the House does not pass the bill, Philadelphia will have to implement its “Plan C”. This plan would involve the lay off of 3,000 city workers, the closure of libraries and recreation centers, and the limiting of trash collection to twice a month. Layoff notifications under “Plan C” are expected to go out September 18, with actual layoffs beginning on October 2.

Action Alerts

Budget Rallies Throughout the State

Individuals and organizations are coming together throughout Pennsylvania to remind legislators of the need to quickly pass a responsible budget that fully funds essential programs. If you are interested in taking part or attending any of these rallies, please visit the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s website.


Local Impact of Working Without a State Budget

While the “stop-gap” budget has allowed state workers and some services to be paid, many other departments, organizations, and agencies are still without any funding. Below are some local examples of how the delay and some of the budget proposals truly impact different parts of the state.

  • “If the state's budget impasse isn't resolved soon, Cumberland County will have to start shutting down some of its state-funded human services programs.”
  • Dollars are dwindling for homeless shelters, day care for low-income families, mental health counseling, food banks, programs for pregnant women, assistance for neglected children, services for senior citizens. The organizations that serve our most vulnerable residents face a crisis. The people they serve could end up in unemployment lines, homeless shelters, emergency rooms or prison.”
  • “DiAnn Baxley hopes cutting the air conditioning and turning off computer monitors cuts expenses enough at Susquehanna Valley Women in Transition to pull the struggling organization through the state budget standoff.”
  • With no state budget in place, county daycares that accept children who receive subsidies are turning kids away or forcing their parents to pay the full price.
  • “To compete globally, Pennsylvania needs nothing short of a transformation. Innovative Industry Partnership workforce training was helping lead the transformation, but now appears destined to be zeroed-out.”

No comments:

Post a Comment