Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - June 2, 2010

Reminder: PathWays PA is Releasing the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011 in Philadelphia Today!

PathWays PA is proud to announce the release of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011, which shows the cost of making ends meet in every county in Pennsylvania. With this report, we can now see just how much Pennsylvania families need to earn and why so many working adults and families are struggling.
Please join us to learn more about this important publication:

WHEN: Wednesday, June 2nd 2:00 - 4:00
WHERE: United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 7 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA

There is still time to register. Please visit: http://releaseofselfsufficiencystandard.eventbrite.com/

State Budget

House Postpones a Vote on Revenue Bill, Unlikely the Budget Will Pass by June 30

Last week, an expected vote by the House of Representatives on either of two revenue packages, House Bill 2435 or House Bill 325 was postponed until at least June 7. Both bills include a tax on natural gas removed from the Marcellus Shale and a tax on smokeless tobacco. House Bill 325 is similar to House Bill 2435, but does not include a tax on cigars, closing corporate loopholes, or repealing the sales tax vendor discount.

While members of the General Assembly want to get the budget finished on time this year, with less than a month until the deadline there is little consensus. Pennsylvania has a revenue shortfall over $1 billion, and decisions over where to raise revenue or where to make cuts are necessary but difficult and time consuming to make.


Timeline: What Has Been Occurred So Far with the 2010-2011 Budget

  • In February, the Governor proposed a $29 billion budget — a $1.2 billion increase over the 2009-2010 budget.
  • In March, the House approved the Governor’s budget proposal.
  • In April, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ordered the state to return $808 million to the MCARE Fund. The same month, federal authorities denied the state’s proposal to toll I-80, leaving a $470 million gap in the state’s transportation budget.
  • Also in April, the state collected $390 million less than expected, bringing the overall revenue shortfall to $1.1 billion. With the new gap and shortfall members of the Senate asked the Governor to submit a new budget proposal, one with less spending.
  • Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $330 million tax package that included a severance tax, a 30-cent-per-pack increase in the state’s $1.60-a-pack cigarette tax; and a tax on smokeless and loose tobacco products.
  • Due to lack of revenue, the state deficit currently stands at $1.23 billion.

Philadelphia Budget


With lower than expected tax revenues, Philadelphia has announced another round of budget cuts. Philadelphia’s Budget Director announced that all departments will see a 2 percent cut from their budgets that will begin July 1. An immediate freeze on spending on supplies and equipment was also announced.

These cuts are in addition to the $20 million in spending cuts the Mayor announced last month.


Action Alert

Urge Your Member of the General Assembly to Find New Revenue for PA

Pennsylvania faces a budget shortfall of $1.5 billion for the current year and next year looks even worse. Organizations across the Commonwealth are encouraging individuals to reach out to members of the General Assembly to ask that they not balance the budget on more service cuts that are necessary to assure the health, education and well-being of Pennsylvania’s children and families.

Please sign onto a letter opposing further service reductions.


IRS Schedules Saturday Open House Events in Pennsylvania to Help Individuals Solve Tax Problems

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will host special nationwide Open House events on Saturday, June 5, to help individuals solve tax problems.

Approximately 200 IRS offices will be open on June 5 from 9 AM to 2 PM. IRS staff will be available on site or by telephone to help taxpayers work through their problems and walk out with solutions.

IRS locations will be equipped to handle issues involving notices and payments, return preparation, audits and a variety of other issues.

For example, a taxpayer who cannot pay a tax balance due can discuss with an IRS professional whether an installment agreement is appropriate and, if so, fill out the paperwork. Assistance with offers-in-compromise will also be available. Likewise, a taxpayer struggling to complete a certain IRS form or schedule can work directly with IRS staff to get the job done.

Please click here to see what locations will be holding open houses.


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:

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.

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: 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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