Changes to State Budget
In early August, Congress passed a bill sending $16 billion to the states in Medicaid and education funding. Out of that $16 billion, Pennsylvania is slated to receive $600 million in FMAP funds (Medicaid federal match funding) and nearly $400 million in school funding. Despite this influx of money, the state budget passed in July 2010 remained in deficit, resulting in a need for funding cuts.
Yesterday, the Rendell Administration announced the line item changes that will be made to bring the budget back into balance. These funds will be placed into "budgetary reserve," which means that the funds cannot be spent.
Tax on Marcellus Shale
Even with the changes above, the budget is still not completely balanced. While approximately $212 million of the budget deficit has been covered, another $70 million needs to be found. When legislators return to session, they are expected to pass a severance tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale in order to make up the remainder of the deficit. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has a new report with recommendations on this severance tax, including:
- Setting a reasonable tax rate comparable to the rate used in West Virginia to remove incentives or disincentives for choosing to drill in one state;
- Limiting unnecessary deductions and loopholes; and
- Creating a sensible plan for revenue sharing between the state, local governments and environmental programs.
You can find the report on the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's website. Please take time to read the report and contact your legislators about the need to pass a severance tax to avoid more budget cuts.
Special Information: Become a WOW Economic Security Champion: Regional Meeting in Philadelphia on October 4, 2010
What is economic security really? Are generations working together or at odds? Are we on the same page with American families? Do they have any idea what we are talking about?
Today, there are organizations and coalitions across the country with similar goals but many differing definitions of economic need. To address this, Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) will host five regional meetings as part of their Building Bridges to Economic Security Campaign to discuss findings of national public opinion research on economic security to help guide advocacy, education and outreach efforts to promote economic security throughout one's lifetime.
To encourage participation, WOW is calling on organizations to become Economic Security Champions. Champions are organizations willing to embrace the framework of promoting economic security over a lifetime. Champions will be designated as key regional meeting partners and receive a monetary award.
The meetings will provide a forum for an array of organizations on a local and state level concerned about the economic justice of all Americans to discuss their priorities, share strategies and build new alliances. The meeting in Philadelphia will be held on Monday, October 4, 2010. Applications to become an Economic Security Champion are due by Friday, September 3, 2010.
WOW will draw on the findings of research conducted by Lake Research Partners to offer messaging approaches and advocacy tools on selected policy goals that are of interest to organizations like yours. Thus far, key partners in this effort are the Center for Community Change, the National Council of the Aging, the Community Action Partnership, the Center for Community Futures and the National Association of State Community Service Programs.
WOW encourages your organization to apply for the award and to spread the word to your networks.
If you have any questions, please contact Kelly Stellrecht.