Wednesday, June 29, 2011

PathWays PA Special Budget Alert: June 29, 2011

State Budget Update

Pa. Senate Approves $27.2 Billion State Budget

State legislative leaders and Governor Tom Corbett agreed on a 2011-12 state budget deal this week, and yesterday, the state Senate approved. The bill heads to the House of Representatives next.

It would spend just $27.2 billion, down $962 million, or 3.4%, from the 2010-11 budget.

Below is a highlight of funding levels as put together by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. For full funding details see the chart put together by the Budget and Policy Center.

Workforce Development
 Despite the tough economy, many programs that help people prepare for and find good jobs are being cut.
  • Industry Partnership funding, which at one point was completely cut out of the budget, will receive $1,613,000, a decrease of $32,000. Keeping Industry Partnerships funded is a victory for workforce development, but full funding for this important program is clearly preferable.
  • Adult and Family Literacy funding was decreased by over $2.5 million down to $12,289,00. This cut follows a 50% decrease in funding over the past few years.
  • New Directions, a program that provides employment placement services to individuals recieveing welfare, will receive $17,183,000 (a decrease of $15,618,000)
Education
The biggest cuts, in both dollars and percentages, are in education programs, including PreK-12 and higher education. While the budget makes some funding restorations from the Governor’s original budget proposal, the cuts are still significant:
  • Basic education funding, at $5.35 billion, is cut $421.5 million, or 7.3%, from the current year.
  • Funding for Accountability Block Grants, at $100 million, is cut by $159 million, or 61%.
  • Special education is flat-funded for the third year at just over $1 billion.
  • Charter School reimbursements are fully eliminated (a loss of $224 million).
  • Funding was also eliminated for Educational Assistance (a tutoring program) and school improvement grants.
  • Both Head Start and PreK Counts were cut by about 3%.
  • Higher education fared much better under the final budget but still sustained cuts of about 18%, or $160 million.
  • Community Colleges in the Philadelphia area will see an average 10% decrease.

Health Care and Public Welfare
Total spending in the Department of Public Welfare fell by just 0.4% from current expenditure levels, but that number masks reductions in health care and other services for vulnerable Pennsylvanians.
  • County child welfare fundung was cut by 4%, or $45 million.
  • Child care funding is cut by 10%, or $35 million.
  • Cash grants were cut by 16%, or $44 million.
  • Funding for the TANF job training and support program — New Directions — was just about cut in half to $17.2 million.
  • Health care clinics funding was cut from $2.5 million down to $1 million.
Housing and Other Services
The Governor’s budget had zeroed out more than $23.5 million provided through the Human Services Development Fund to give counties flexible funds for human services such as housing assistance, adult day care, home delivered meals and transportation services. The final budget restores the fund to $14.9 million, still a cut of $8.5 million.

The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program is cut from $10.5 million down to $2 million. Housing and Redevelopment Assistance is also losing $17.8 million in funding.

Local Impact from Budget Cuts
Much of the funding reductions for education will impact Philadelphia, which loses over $395 million, including over $121 million in stimulus funds and over $273 million in state funding. But big cuts are also in store for the suburban Philadelphia counties - $30.2 million in Bucks County, $33.7 million in Chester County, $46.6 million in Delaware County, and $29 million in Montgomery County.

With these cuts, districts are planning increases in property taxes to reduce the impact. In Philadelphia, the City Council has already passed a property tax increase to provide an additional $53 million for the schools to keep open full-day kindergarten and accelerated school programs, as well as other services.


FEDERAL BUDGET UPDATE

MEDICAID THREATENED - YOU CAN HELP
Despite recent polls showing widespread support for Medicaid, there are several proposals in Congress to create budget caps and/or block grants, which would fundamentally undermine the program and slash its funding.

To address the threats to Medicaid and discuss how to effectively talk about the program, Wider Opportunities for Women is hosting a webinar, Budget Battles: Threats to Medicaid, on Thursday, June 30 at 3:00pm Eastern / 2:00pm Central / 1:00pm Mountain / 12:00 noon Pacific.
Register Today To Reserve Your Spot!
Participants will hear from national and state communications and policy experts:

* Jennifer Beeson and Angela Shubert, Families USA
* Renate Pore, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy
* Andy McDonald, BerlinRosen Public Affairs

This is the third in a series of Building Bridges to Economic Security webinar trainings. Space is limited, so register now!

Urge the White House to protect SNAP and other safety net programs during debt-ceiling negotiations!
Members of the Administration and a group of Congressional leaders have been negotiating a debt-ceiling/deficit reduction plan and hope to reach an agreement by July 1. News reports indicate those talks may be moving to a more select group with the President.

At the top of the agenda is securing $4 trillion in savings from program cuts over the next 10 or 12 years. Whether or not revenues will be part of the final plan is also in play. We must urge negotiators follow a key principle included in the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform’s plan (Bowles-Simpson): protect programs for low-income families and individuals, like SNAP, and make sure that the deficit reduction is achieved in a way that does not increase poverty.

Any plan that does not include a commitment to protect low-income people, and new revenues, will result in a massive loss of services for our nation’s most vulnerable.

Call the White House at 1-888-245-0215. Please act NOW to protect low-income families and individuals from harmful deficit reduction cuts!

ACTION ALERTS

Take Action for a Better State Budget

It is critical that Pennsylvania's State Representatives hear from their constituents within the next day, as they prepare to vote on a $27.149 billion state budget plan.

The budget makes deep cuts to education and health and human services, even though the state has a $550 million revenue surplus.

View line-by-line funding levels here.
Call your Representative today and say:

Before you make deep cuts to education, health care and cost-effective local services, you should use the state's half-billion dollar surplus and enact a drilling tax on natural gas.

Find your Representative’s phone number here.

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