Last week, the Governor and members of the General Assembly held their first official budget negotiation. All sides expressed a willingness to compromise in order to finish the budget by the June 30 deadline, however, the Governor has signaled that he will not back down from the funding he is seeking for public education.
It appears that negotiations will continue surrounding revenue-raising options. Some options being considered include increasing the cigarette tax, imposing a tax on smokeless tobacco, and a severance tax on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. Some legislators are expressing that the severance tax could have enough votes to pass, however, passage will depend on what details go into any bill. Any revenue raised will certainly go a long way to ensuring that there are fewer cuts in the budget protecting many programs and services relied upon by many Pennsylvanians.
Layoffs Likely Without FMAP Funding
Congress is considering legislation that would extend funding for Pennsylvania in the amount of $850 million (see below for more information and action steps to ensure Pennsylvania receives the funding).
In his budget proposal, the Governor relied on the anticipated funding for federally mandated Medicaid obligations (FMAP). Without that funding the budget gap would grow from $1.2 billion to just under $2 billion. The Governor said that such a large budget gap would have to be closed by the elimination of thousands of jobs including state workers, teachers, county employees, and local police and firefighters.
With Philadelphia’s tax amnesty program coming to an end on June 25, the city is far from its goal of revenue to be collected. The city was hoping to collect $30 million to help balance the budget, but only $7 million has been collected so far. With less than 25 percent of the goal reached the city will need to figure out another way to collect delinquent taxes. The Mayor has warned that delinquent taxpayers could be prosecuted.
Ask Your Representatives to Restore Enhanced FMAP Match
Another nearly $850 million deficit to Pennsylvania’s budget relies on whether Congress approves a 6-month extension of the enhanced federal Medicaid match rate (FMAP) provided to the states as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
While the House did not include the FMAP provision in H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, yesterday the U.S. Senate Finance Committee put forth an amendment to the bill that includes the extension.
In order to ensure that FMAP is included in the Jobs Bill, members of Congress need to head about the importance of the funding. Without it Pennsylvania will likely suffer job losses and cuts to health and human services.
You can help by sending a strong message to your members of Congress that the FMAP extension must be in the final bill. Please contact your members of Congress today.
Statewide Rally to Preserve Human Services
Statewide coalitions are coming together in an effort to preserve essential human services for the vulnerable individuals and communities that depend on them.
WHEN: June 15, 11:00 – 12:00
WHERE: Pennsylvania State Capitol Building Rotunda
The rally will be followed by legislative visits where advocates will ask legislator to take a balanced approach to the state budget. If you would like to attend or if you have any questions contact Ethan Jury at either email@example.com or 215-951-0300 x3959 or Kevin Douglas at either firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-951-0300 x3245.
Rally for Jobs and Against Budget Cuts
If you cannot make it to Harrisburg, there will also be an event in Delaware County. This will be a rally for Jobs and Against Budget Cuts
WHEN: Thursday June 17, 11:00 AM
WHERE: Delaware County Courthouse, 201 West Front Street, Media PA
To RSVP for this event, contact Kate Atkins at (215) 563-5848 x 16 or email@example.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:
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.