While no new budget legislation has emerged from Harrisburg in the past two weeks, constituents across the state are keeping up the pressure against budget cuts. Here are some of the clips we've found detailing the potential impact of the budget throughout Pennsylvania:
- "Proposed Budget Cuts Would Hit Home" - the proposed cuts to the Human Services Development Block Grant could mean the end of Compeer, a Lehigh Valley organization that recruits and trains volunteers to build friendships with adults receiving mental health services. According to the article, local programs that provide help to families dealing with autism and prevents the placement of children in foster homes may also be cut.
- "Pennsylvania budget cuts, policy changes are ravaging services, disability advocates say" - Despite 16,000 people waiting for services, agencies in Cumberland and Perry Counties are concerned that they will again have to cut staff and programs as part of budget cuts.
- "State human services funds will be reduced" - County Commissioners, while looking forward to the streamlining of the audit process for services, are concerned about the 20% cut in funding.
- April 30, 2012 - Arts and culture advocates will be going to Harrisburg to ask for $1.8 million for Museum Assistance (via https://twitter.com/#!/PA_Museums)
- May 2, 2012 - A number of organizations are calling on all families, self advocates and their allies to attend the "Keep Your Promise" rally on May 2, 2012 at noon to protect community Intellectual Disability and Autism services throughout Pennsylvania (via http://pawaitinglistcampaign.org/)
- May 7, 2012 - PA Cares for All is holding a rally at the Capitol Rotunda to restore funding for programs involving General Assistance, health care, and human services (via http://pacaresforall.org/?p=269)
FEDERAL BUDGET UPDATE
Last week, the Agriculture Committee and the Ways and Means Committee each passed budget proposals whose impacts will be felt nationwide.
The Agriculture Committee adopted a budget proposal cutting $33 billion over the next ten years from SNAP (food stamps). The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) estimates that these cuts will lead to at least 3 million people losing eligibility for SNAP under just one of the changes proposed. In addition, the new guidelines would cause the maximum food benefit available to a family of four to fall by $57 per month beginning this year. 280,000 children could lose access to free breakfast and lunch programs, and 4.7 million families would be impacted by reductions to the "Heat and Eat" SNAP/LIHEAP state option.
In the Ways and Means Committee, the repeal of the Social Services Block Grant would cut 12% of the federal funding given to states to prevent child abuse and to promote adoption, foster care, independent/transitional living, child protection, and residential services for children and youth. This is the second year in a row that the block grant has been targeted for elimination.
BUDGET SIGN ONS AND ACTIONS
For decades, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has served as the nation’s first line of defense against hunger, helping to ensure that the poorest and hungriest people in our nation can feed their families. In 2010 alone it lifted more than 5 million Americans above the poverty line. If it is weakened, our nation will see more hunger and food insecurity, poorer health and educational outcomes, and higher health costs.
Cuts to the program will also cost us economically. Because its benefits are so urgently needed by families, they are spent quickly—97 percent of benefits are redeemed by the end of the month of issuance, thereby bolstering local economies. Moody’s Analytics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate that the economic growth impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ranges from $1.73 to $1.79 per $1 of program benefits.
As the Senate Agriculture Committee prepares to introduce the 2012 Farm Bill, it’s critical that we stand together against any efforts to cap or reduce funding, restrict eligibility, or reduce benefits. Cutting supplemental nutrition assistance at a time when so many are struggling is not an option.
Urge your members of Congress to protect and strengthen the program today—millions of low-income American families and children are counting on us.
From our friends at Half in Ten
Keystone Progress, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, and Better Choices for Pennsylvania have joined together to ask for signatures on a petition to bring about "a better budget for Pennsylvania" by delaying corporate tax cuts and closing corporate tax loopholes. To read more or to sign the petition, visit http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6751/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10262.
The Better Choices Coalition is holding a statewide call on Thursday, April 26, at 3 PM.
The state budget may be on an accelerated timetable this year, with hundreds of millions in business tax cuts are slated for a vote as soon as April 30th. Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's Sharon Ward and other experts will be on this month's Better Choices Coalition statewide call to give the latest updates.
Better Choices--Full Coalition Call
Last Thursday of the Month: Thursday, April 26th 3PM
Dial-in Number: (760) 569-7676
DISCUSS DRUG AND ALCOHOL SERVICE CUTS WITH LEGISLATORS
According to the Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania (DASPOP), the 20% cut to the programs combined in the Human Services Development Block Grant could lead to between 4,300 and 10,000 fewer people receiving help for drug and alcohol problems (Gov’s Exec. Budget, E36.39, avg. cost/person = $2,000). DASPOP is asking people who oppose these cuts to take the time to explain the devastating impact that the proposed budget will have on people seeking treatment for addicted loved ones. Specifically, they are asking for BHSI and Act 152, the Drug and Alcohol line items, to be removed from the Human Services Development Block Grant.
If you wish to share this message with legislators, please contact them today!