Wednesday, April 7, 2010

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - April 7, 2010

State Budget

Two weeks ago the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the spending portion of a budget bill that reflected the Governor's budget proposal. It is believed that the Senate will not take action on the state budget until they know what the revenue raised in March and April totaled. While the revenue raised has been below what was projected, there are many different estimates on what revenue for April will be.

Proposal to Make I-80 a Toll Road Rejected

The United States Department of Transportation has rejected a proposal to turn I-80 into a toll road. The reason for the rejection was that the proposal violated a section of federal transportation law requiring toll money to be used only for the tolled roadway. Governor Rendell had included the revenue raised from the tolls to be $450 million and included that amount in the state’s Transportation Department’s budget to be used statewide. Without the projected revenue there is another hole in that state’s budget.

We Cannot Cut Our Way Out of the Budget Problems

Last year, the budget deficits were closed through cuts to programs and services. Below are just some of the ways Pennsylvanians have been hurt by those cuts.
  • Low-income seniors, the blind and people with disabilities saw a reduction their State Supplemental Payments
  • Adults that buy into the adultBasic program for last-resort health coverage saw their premiums increase 80 percent – from $330 to $600 each month.
  • Job training programs were cut just when they were needed most.
  • Public libraries had to reduce hours and close branches.
While some cuts may need to be made, it is crucial that legislators take a balanced approach to the budget by also considering ways to raise revenues.


Philadelphia Budget 

While City Council continues to hold hearings on the budget proposed by Mayor Nutter, the Mayor wrote a letter to the editor discussing the ways he has cut the city's spending.

The Mayor states that the city's costs this year will be about $160 million lower than in fiscal 2008, largely as a result of a reduction in personnel costs. Including part time and temporary positions, the city has 1,250 fewer employees than it did at the end of 2008.

Other cuts include:
  • A 18 percent cut to the Free Library,
  • A 11 percent cut to Parks and Recreation,
  • A 14 percent cut to Sanitation,
  • A 7 percent cut to Public Health,
  • Police and fire overtime are both down, 33 percent and 27 percent.
While it is likely more cuts will be necessary this year, it may also be necessary for Philadelphia to find ways to raise revenue.

Did You Know...

That every time you email, call, or fax your legislator your thoughts or concerns are logged?

You can truly have an impact on the way your legislator votes simply by contacting them. If there are programs that are important to you please contact your legislators today and let them know what you think.

PA Budget Legislative Day of Action

Help assure Pennsylvania has a balanced budget that maintains essential services. Join the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition for a legislative day of action. The day will begin with kick-off event that will educate, motivate, and give you opportunities to practice before your legislative visits.

WHERE: April 16, 2010, 9:30 - 11:30 AM
WHERE: Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, 300 Airdale Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

At the event Sharon Ward from the PA Budget and Policy Center will be educating everyone about the budget and representatives from the Governor’s office and legislative members from both parties will be invited to speak.

Please set-up visits now. Contact Debbie Plotnick at 267-507-3895 or dplotnick@mhasp.org to coordinate or if you have any questions.

For more information or to join the Coalition’s efforts, visit http://pabudgetnow.wordpress.com/.


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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