Wednesday, July 7, 2010

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

Since Governor Rendell has signed a budget, this will be our last Special Budget Alert of this budget season. Please see this Policy Blog and sign up for our E-Newsletter for information regarding the severance tax and other issues affecting Pennsylvanians. 

PathWays PA like to thank all of our readers for their support and feedback on our alerts. In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay turned, as next year's budget is already right around the corner while revenue for this year’s budget has not been fully determined.

State Budget Signed

Earlier this week, the Governor signed a $28.05 billion spending plan. The budget includes a $250 million increase in funding for basic education and a severance tax on natural gas extraction to go into effect in January 2011. The General Assembly has until the fall to work out the details surrounding the severance tax. The budget does not include other taxes that had been discussed, such as an excise tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco or a plan to do away with the sales tax vendor discount. Legislation to close the Delaware loophole and reduce corporate income tax rates also failed to make the final cut.

There are still some questions around the budget, particularly the extension of FMAP, which has yet to be approved by Congress. Pennsylvania created a budget based on receiving $850 million from the FMAP extension. The Governor has stated that if Congress fails to approve the FMAP funding, he and legislative leaders will have to identify additional cuts in the budget.

For more information about the budget, please see the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s Details on 2010-11 Budget Agreement.

Action Alerts

FMAP Meeting

The state budget has passed, but there still remains the potential for an $850 million budget gap if the federal government does not extend the Federal Medicaid Matching Assistance Program (FMAP). During the recession, the federal government gave states additional money to pay for their Medicaid expenses but this additional money is set to expire at the end of this year. Without an extension, Pennsylvania will be facing an additional $850 million hole in the budget.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition is holding a meeting to plan next steps and hear from local Congressional offices about FMAP.

WHEN: Thursday, July 8, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
WHERE: United Way Building, 1709 Ben Franklin Parkway. Philadelphia PA

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to sepabudget@gmail.com.

Call to Discuss SSP Cuts

After last year’s budget, disabled, blind, and elderly Pennsylvanians receiving State Supplemental Payments (SSP) faced a cut of 19 percent – 24 percent to their SSP grant. To qualify for the SSP, individuals must receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a federal benefit for the very poor administered by the Social Security Administration. Due to budgetary shortfalls, the state reduced the SSP for an individual by $5.30/month (down 19 percent) and by $10.40/month for a couple (down 24 percent). A reduction of $5.30 per month may seem small, but it equals a missed meal, a medical co-pay that cannot be met, or a paratransit ride that cannot be taken.

The 2010-2011 budget did not remove the SSP cuts. To talk about what is next for SSP, Community Legal Services is holding a conference call.

WHEN: Thursday, July 8, 10:00 am

To join the call dial (424) 203-8400 and the participant access code is 362486#.

They will discuss what happened with SSP and what might be done in the coming months to try to get the SSP cuts restored.

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