Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - March 24, 2010

State Budget

On Monday, Representative Vitali withdrew amendments he had offered that were meant to halt or hinder natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, which would have also required a $110 million cut to basic education funding.

With no other amendments, including one originally proposed by Representative Levdansky, brought up for debate, the House of Representatives yesterday approved the expenses portion of the Governor’s proposed budget (HB 2279) by a vote of 107 to 89. The budget includes $26.26 billion in state funds and $2.76 billion in federal stimulus money for a total of $29.03 billion in spending. The revenue portion of the budget is likely to be debated in the House in April.

In the House budget proposal, spending for many programs would continue at levels below FY 2008-09, and most departments would see cuts to their funding. The plan would restore state funding for basic education and provide additional support using federal stimulus dollars. A few other areas, including health care and public safety, would see modest increases.

After the House passes the revenue package both bills will go to the Senate where they are not planned to be move until May and are likely to face opposition.


Philadelphia Budget

Philadelphia City Council has begun to hold hearings on the Mayor’s proposed budget, which calls for a tax on sugary drinks and a $300 fee for trash collection.

In lieu of the Mayor’s proposed plan to raise revenue, some Council members are calling for an increase in property taxes by 12 percent. The argument for this tax is property taxes can be deducted from federal income-tax returns, so residents would see some of that money back. The problem with the plan is the current status of the Board of Revisions of Taxes in Philadelphia, whose recent problems have caused a moratorium on new property assessments until the city felt the data was reliable.

City Council will continue to hold hearings on the city’s budget. To view the hearing schedule, please click here.

Did You Know...

That 21 percent, or one in five, households are struggling to make ends meet in Pennsylvania?

The cuts to services that resulted from last years budget only made the struggle greater for people in Pennsylvania. If you or your clients have been impacted by the service cuts, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Budget Coalitions

Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is forming a coalition to bring together individuals, organizations and coalitions working for a state budget that funds essential public services, invests in the future, and has a fair and stable revenue structure.

Coalition members will work in support of:
  • A balanced approach to the state budget shortfall.
  • A state budget that builds upon sound public investments.
  • A state budget that addresses the immediate crisis and prepares for the future.
  • A state budget that includes productive, stable revenue that reflect today’s economy.

To learn more about the Coalition and to become a part of it see the Sign-On Form.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition (formally the Southeastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Essential Services) is a broad-based coalition of over 80 nonprofits, local government and private sector agencies that provide essential services to improve the quality of life for people of this region. Pennsylvania’s budget impasse last year had a devastating impact on children, families, seniors, people with disabilities, other vulnerable members of our communities, and the organizations and agencies that serve them.
The Coalition has come together again this year to urge the Governor and the General Assembly to:
  • Spare cuts to the state’s most vulnerable residents in 2011 and pass a budget that provides adequate support for Pennsylvania’s children, families, seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations; and
  • Use additional sources of revenue to protect all Pennsylvanians and the organizations that serve our communities.

Three Things the Coalition is Asking Everyone to Do:

  1. Write to your House and Senate members. Tell them how the proposed cuts would impact the people your organization serves. Urge them to increase state revenue to fund the essential services your organization provides.
  2. Visit House and Senate members while they are home on recess.
  3. Urge members of your staff, board of directors and consumers to get involved.

Your organization can also join the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition to stay informed and participate in collective budget action throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. Go to http://pabudgetnow.wordpress.com for more information.


Did You Know...

That 18 percent of adults in Pennsylvania have not graduated from high school?

Programs that provide adult education are crucial to help individuals obtain the skills they need to obtain a job that pays a self-sufficient wage. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for adult education, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.


Important Programs and Action Steps:

While the state budget is very tight this year, it is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about programs that cannot and should not see more cuts this year. Even programs that are not undergoing large cuts need to be advocated for to ensure that changes are not made to their funding during the budget debates. Below we have highlighted just a few of those programs:

Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs: The greatest predictor of a child's future academic success is the literacy level of the child's mother. Adult education and family literacy programs are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to become self-sufficient. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for literacy, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Industry Partnerships: Workers who participate in the Industry Partnership program have seen an average 6.62% increase in their wages within the first year after training.
HB 2230, currently in the House Committee on Labor Relations, will institutionalize Industry Partnerships to ensure that this important program remains in Pennsylvania for years to come. If you or your clients have benefited from Industry Partnerships, please let your legislators know by emailing or calling their offices.

State Supplemental Program: Help restore cuts to the State Supplemental Payments for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. As a result of the 2009-2010 budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. If you believe the payments are important. please contact your state legislators and urge them to find ways to restore this cut.

adultBasic: Over 350,000 people are on the waiting list for adultBasic. While those on the waiting list can pay full price for the program until they can access the program, but the cost to buy in has increased 80 percent. Meanwhile, coverage under the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget will not expand beyond 50,000 people. If you or your clients believe that when 12 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are without health care, programs that assist them are essential and need to be expanded, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.


Child Care Subsidy: At least 16,000 families are on the waiting list to receive the child care subsidy. The subsidy allows parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for child care, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

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