Wednesday, July 13, 2011

PathWay PA E-Newsletter: July 11, 2011

FEDERAL POLICY UPDATES

DEALING WITH THE DEBT CEILING: YOU CAN DO A LOT

This is a critical time for America's children, youth and families. Please take a moment to follow the three simple steps outlined below, and let Washington lawmakers know that the choices they make today will have very real impacts on children, youth and families for years to come.


1. SIGN ON TO THE CHILDREN'S LEADERSHIP COUNCIL'S (CLC) DEBT CEILING LETTER AND THEN FORWARD IT TO YOUR NETWORKS
To read the letter, click here. To sign your organization on, click here. Debt ceiling negotiations are heating up quickly. Please sign your organization on to the CLC debt ceiling letter and then forward it to your networks. It is especially critical that we have representation from state and local organizations. (Note: this letter is for organizational sign on only.)


2. HAVE EVERY INDIVIDUAL IN YOUR OFFICE SIGN ON TO THE CLC DEBT CEILING PETITION, THEN POST IT ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER, AND SEND IT OUT TO YOUR COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS AND FAMILIES.
To ensure that the message gets through loud and clear, the CLC is coupling the organizational sign on letter with an online petition. The petition is designed to be circulated through social media, as well as more traditional means, and will allow access to a wider audience than would be reached through a sign on letter alone.


3. TWEET ABOUT IT:

Tell Washington that in America, children, not millionaires, are our first priority. #kidsnotcorporatejets http://tinyurl.com/clcpetition
The choice is easy - #kidsnotcorporatejets. http://tinyurl.com/clcpetition
Invest in #kidsnotcorporatejets! http://tinyurl.com/clcpetition
Tell our leaders we need deficit reduction that puts children, youth and families first! #kidsnotcorporatejets http://tinyurl.com/clcpetition


4. TAKE FIVE MINUTES TO CALL THE WHITE HOUSE (1-888-245-0215): A sample message is below.

Any deficit reduction plan must protect programs for low-income families and individuals - particularly Medicaid, child nutrition, and public education -- and must also include new revenues. The plan should reduce poverty and help disadvantaged people, even as it attempts to shrink the deficit. Low-income assistance programs must be exempt from any caps and automatic across-the-board cuts which could be triggered when budget targets or fiscal restraint targets are missed.

From our friends at the Children's Leadership Council.


ADVOCATE FOR MCKINNEY VENTO


ACTION STEPS: Contact your U.S. Representative today and urge her/him to end homelessness by supporting funding for McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Program! Find the email and phone numbers for your Pennsylvania Congressional member to the U.S. Congress here.

Starting in July, Congress will consider the Administration's request for $2.4 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program for FY 2012.


As the bill moves through Congress, key Pennsylvania legislators will play an important role in our state's ability to end homelessness.


What the Increase Will Do: An increase to $2.4 billion in FY 2012 will mean housing instead of homelessness for approximately 132,000 Americans, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The increase would allow communities to continue current emergency and transitional housing programs and the new prevention and rapid re-housing programs started a few years ago with stimulus funding. For FY 2012, $2.135 billion is necessary just to prevent existing programs from shutting down. $2.4 billion would continue the expansion of permanent supportive housing, prevention, and other new strategies.


What would budget cuts or "flat funding" do: If Congress cuts homeless funding or provides "flat funding," i.e., the same as last year, $1.8 billion, it would lead to program closures for 23,000 people. Flat funding would also probably stop HUD from implementing the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, the new set of strategies for ending homelessness.


Talking points for your email or phone call to your Congressional representative could include:

Homelessness Doesn't Have to Be Permanent: Thousands of Pennsylvanians leave homelessness every year.

Need: However, with the recession, we have seen more people at risk of homelessness.
These Programs Work: McKinney-Vento programs have such strong support because it has repeatedly been proven effective at preventing and ending homelessness for families, veterans, individuals, youth, and children.

SIGN ON LETTER OPPOSING THE CONSTITUTIONAL BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT (BBA)

The House and Senate are likely to vote on proposals to add a balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution in July. The House now expects to act during the week of July 18th and the Senate vote during that week as well.

Both proposals would force extreme cuts in federal spending as the means of balancing the budget. We are very concerned that Members of Congress will vote for them because it sounds "responsible" to balance the budget.

But the truth is these proposals would CUT essential programs like Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP/food stamps in half within 10 years. Medicare would have to be turned into a voucher, and spending for key programs like housing, education, child care, Head Start, public health, veterans' health care, environmental protection, health research, food and water safety, and many others would be slashed by 70 percent. A constitutional balanced budget amendment would also cause significant harm to the economy, making recessions both deeper and longer.

STATE AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS: Please sign this letter so your Members of Congress know you want these reckless changes to the U.S. Constitution defeated.

STATE POLICY UPDATES

PA STATE BUDGET SLASHES FUNDING FOR THOSE MOST IN NEED


At a time when 1 in 10 people in Pennsylvania rely on food assistance programs, Harrisburg passed a state budget last week that slashes vital services for the state's neediest residents, making it harder for them to feed their families.

You can still make your voice heard. Depending on how your elected officials voted, you can send them a letter of thanks (or disapproval) for their actions on the state budget.


The 2011-2012 State Budget:

  • Cuts funding for food pantries, job training programs, Medical Assistance, child care services, and other vital programs for kids, seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Gives the Administration virtually unchecked authority to cut Medicaid, welfare-to-work programs and child care services. The measure frees the administration from having to seek public comment or legislative approval on such changes, effectively circumventing the system of checks and balances.


What's more, Harrisburg put the interests of corporations and other special-interest groups before the needs of families still reeling from the recession. The Administration and state legislators refused to tap the state's $700-plus million budget surplus or require corporations to pay their fair share of taxes-both common-sense measures that would have spared many crucial services.


It's not right. And you can still say something about it.


Tell the Administration and state legislators what you think about the state budget.


As constituents, make your voice heard on behalf of the millions of Pennsylvanians who are struggling to feed their families in these tough economic times.

INFORMATION/EVENTS

SIGN THE DECLARATION OF SUPPORT FOR PAID SICK DAYS AND INDEPENDENCE FROM THE MAYOR'S VETO

While the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces was thrilled with City Council's passage of the earned sick days bill we were disappointed with the Mayor's veto of our bill. On July 6th members of the Coalition came together to declare support for the earned sick days bill and independence from the Mayors veto. Members signed their own Declaration on Independence Mall and you can add your name to the growing list of supporters. We will be presenting the list of supports to the Mayor and City Council as we work to override the veto.


HELP SAVE THE HEMAP PROGRAM

The HEMAP program has shut down as of July 1, 2011 due to lack of funds. This program has saved over 45,000 homes since 1983 and more money has been repaid to the state than has been appropriated.

WHEN: July 14th at 1:30

WHERE: Philadelphia Unemployment Project, 112 N. Broad Street 11th Floor Philadelphia

If you are unable to attend but would like to participate in person you can call 712-451-6000, and enter the code 275892#.

PUP will be building a campaign to restore funding for HEMAP to continue this much praised, national model program. With the aftermath of the recession continuing to stress families across Pennsylvania, this is not the time to end this critically important program.

PHAN'S CALL SERIES ON TUESDAY NIGHTS FROM 6:00-7:00 PM


The Pennsylvania Health Access Network is constantly tracking what's happening in Harrisburg and DC and can give you the latest information. Join them for a call to discuss what the new budget means for Pennsylvania and health care programs.

WHEN: July 12, 6:00 PM


RSVP Here.

Is there a topic you'd like to see featured on a call? Or do you have someone from your organization you'd like to suggest as a guest speaker? Click here to learn more about PHAN's policy call series or to access resources from previous calls. Contact Athena with questions at aford@pahealthaccess.org.

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