Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - April 14, 2010

State Budget

New Choices to be Made in PA After Federal Funding Denied

Last week, Pennsylvania was denied federal approval to place tolls on I-80, which means the loss of hundreds of millions in funds anticipated for transportation. The budget proposed by the Governor and passed by the House assumed there would be an estimated $472 million from the tolls. Legislators will now have to work to try to fill this hole in the budget.

A few weeks ago, the House approved a $29 billion state budget and sent the legislation to the Senate without revenue provision, which created a gap of between $750 million and $1 billion. That gap does not include the revenue needed for transportation improvements that were to be underwritten by I-80 tolls.

With deteriorating roads and struggling mass-transit systems, funding for the Transportation Department is crucial for Pennsylvania. There have been a number of ideas on how to raise the revenue elsewhere:
  • New or used motor-vehicle fees
  • Oil-profit taxes
  • Leasing of the Pennsylvania Turnpike
  • Adding tolls to I-95
  • Allow counties and municipalities to raise revenue
It is expected that without new revenue, funding for roads and bridges would be cut by about $300 million a year, delaying repairs on 100 bridges and 300 miles of road. Also, there would be $110 million less for SEPTA and tens of millions less in cutbacks for 70 other transit agencies statewide. The state could put off bridge and road repairs, but the loss of transit funding will like result in a more immediate impact for commuters, such as service cutbacks or higher prices.

Did You Know...

That in Pennsylvania one in six people rely on medical assistance? In 15 PA counties more than 20% of the population receives help from MA: Blair, Cameron, Clearfield, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Philadelphia, Potter and Venango.

If you or one of your clients rely on this program or think it is important please contact your legislators today and let them know.


Philadelphia Budget

City Council continues to hold hearings on the budget proposed by Mayor Nutter. No agreements have been made on revenue raising proposals, like the tax on sugary beverage and the fee for trash collection.
While the city works on their budget, SEPTA will also be holding hearings this week on the fiscal 2011 budget. This budget includes a 6 percent system wide fare increase.

SEPTA is proposing a $1.18 billion operating budget, to cover their expenses for the upcoming fiscal year. Due to the state’s inability to toll Interstate 80, SEPTA is projecting a $300 million capital budget (to be used for long-term projects) which includes a cut of $110 million.

SEPTA’s proposed fare increases will increase the price of a token from $1.45 to $1.55, a transfer from 75 cents to a $1, a weekly transit pass from $20.75 to $22, and a monthly transit pass from $78 to $83. Regional rail weekly and monthly passes would also increase.

Action Alerts

Urge Your Federal Legislators to Support Adult Literacy

At the federal level, the President has sent his recommended budget to Congress, but neither the House nor the Senate has passed a budget. Federal budget line items have considerable impact on adult and family literacy programs.

Below is a guide from Pennsylvania Associate of Continuing Adult Education on what they believe is important in the current federal budget:

Please request that Senators Casey and Specter work to add $160 million to the President’s request of $612 million for state grants under the Workforce Investment Act Title II. The additional $160 million would give all states an increase and provide educational services to most of those people placed on the waiting lists during this school year.

Sample Message: On behalf of your constituents in (insert name of your community), I urge you to support the increase of the Workforce Investment Act Title II appropriation by $160 million on top of the President’s request of $612 million. Pennsylvania has the second highest number of adults on its waiting list compared with all other states. For example, the [insert name of agency] has ____ adults on the waiting list for services. This increase would allow us to provide educational services to those on this waiting list and assist them in meeting their goals of obtaining a job, retaining a job, gaining a promotion, transitioning to post-secondary. Thank you, in advance, for your support.

Did You Know...

That Pennsylvania has the second highest wait list for adult literacy programs of all the states? (Thanks to the Center for Literacy for this information.)

Over 10,000 adults who have contacted an adult literacy program to register have been told that there are no spots available. If adult literacy is important to you or your clients, please contact your legislators today and let them know.

Contact Your State Legislators to Support Adult and Family Literacy

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. Any cuts in funding will only result in even longer waiting lists and less people served.

The Pennsylvania Associate of Continuing Adult Education (PAACE) is asking individuals to visit their state legislators in their home offices to discuss the importance of these programs. You can reference PAACE Advocacy documents by visiting www.paacesite.org and clicking the Advocacy button. After your visit please email your advocacy experience to PAACE Legislative Chair JoAnn Weinberger at weinberger@centerforliteracy.org.

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/.


Other 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:

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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