Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Special Budget Alert - April 11, 2012

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania State Capital BuildingState

In the past month, Pennsylvania collected higher than expected revenues, with $4.1 billion entering the General Fund in March 2012. This amount represents a 2.4% increase over projections. A small part of the additional revenue can be traced to Pennsylvania’s casinos, which posted record profits for the month, adding $126.5 million in tax revenue.

Although the Secretary of Revenue is still reporting a $389 million dollar loss for the year, the increased funds could mean a lower than expected total loss. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the Governor’s budget assumes a loss of $719 million, and the additional revenue could be used to ameliorate some of the cuts in the Governor’s budget.

In looking at other ways to raise revenue, citizens, advocates, and lawmakers have been putting forth ideas for preventing this year’s budget cuts before they happen. In late March, the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition held a press conference in Harrisburg asking for a “bigger slice of the pie” through the closure of tax loopholes. At least one bill proposing to cut tax loopholes is being discussed in the State House, although some legislators and advocates are questioning its effectiveness.

As the budget remains under discussion, organizations continue to discuss how the proposed cuts will impact the services they deliver. In Lancaster County, the 20% cut in funding under the combined Human Services Development Fund Block Grant could lead to the end of a program that helps people with mental illness live in the community instead of in state hospitals. In Franklin County, some human services agencies have been required to provide programs even though their state funding was completely cut. As agencies prepare for potential funding cuts and continue to deal with the fallout from previous budgets, the Philadelphia Daily News also reported last week that 89,000 children have been removed from Medicaid since August 2011. So far, more than 23,000 children have been reinstated after being “wrongfully kicked off.”

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Save Pennsylvania's Bridge to Self-Sufficiency!


WHEN: Monday, May 7, 2012 @ 11:00AM
WHERE: Harrisburg, PA (On the steps of the Capitol Rotunda)

PA Cares for All is calling for Pennsylvanians to urge State legislators to restore funding for critically needed programs for vulnerable citizens, including General Assistance, health care, and human services programs.

On May 7th, they are asking people to join with advocates across the state in saying: “SAVE PENNSYLVANIA’S BRIDGE TO SELF-SUFFICENCY!”

The current proposed State budget will eliminate General Assistance that goes to:
  • Support orphaned and abandoned children.
  • Help victims of domestic violence to escape their abuser.
  • Help those afflicted with a serious medical condition like cancer, a stroke, or an addiction.
  • Help for those waiting to be approved for Social Security disability
In addition, according to the Coalition, the proposed State budget would cut human services funding by 20%, defund HEMAP (the loan program that helps the unemployed save their homes from foreclosures), and make it harder for seniors, disabled persons, and the unemployed to get food stamps.

They are asking you to help by doing three things:
  • Send this information to everyone on your e-mail list or network.
  • Go to www.PACaresForAll.org and join the efforts.
  • And join PA Cares For All on Monday, May 7 at 11:00AM on the steps of the Capitol Rotunda to say, Pennsylvania should care for all!
To RSVP or for more information, please visit www.PACaresforAll.org OR CALL (267) 765-6488.

(Can’t join them in Harrisburg? Send an e-mail to your PA elected official at www.bit.ly/fixPAbudget)

For more resources on General Assistance, including an interactive calculator that shows the cost of ending the program, please visit www.PACaresForAll.org.

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Budget Events


Over the next weeks and months, there will be many creative ways to discuss the state and federal budget as well as revenue options.  One opportunity in Philadelphia will be the Dodgeball Showdown at 3 PM on April 17.  The Showdown, to be held at Love Park, will ask legislators to close corporate tax loopholes so everyone pays their fair share. Contact Paola@fightforphilly.org to learn more about this fun event.

The Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition also has a number of events listed that will be taking place over the next week, including a Legislative Forum in the Lehigh Valley on April 13, a Kids Cuts and Consequences Rally in Scranton on April 14, and a number of events across the state on April 17.  For more information, please visit http://betterchoicesforpa.com/Events.aspx.

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