This week, the Pennsylvania Senate released its numbers on the state budget. In their version, the Senate restores $500 million in funding, including restoring funding for Pennsylvania's colleges to its current levels.
In addition to adding higher education funding, the Senate chose to increase funding in certain health and health-related departments such as Epilepsy, Tourette's Syndrome, Autism, and various MA related programs,
While overall funding increased, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that attempts "to put in another $250 million for social services, child-care services, and a temporary cash assistance program for poor and disabled adults failed." According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the Senate budget increases spending while continuing a proposed tax cut and cutting a proposed cap on the sales tax vendor discount.
In response to the budget proposal, Governor Corbett's spokesman Eric Shirk said "The Senate budget proposal is not sustainable beyond 2012-13.... It would move the state farther away from achieving long-term structural balance."
In other budget news, Senate Bill 1433, which would primarily fund HEMAP, passed unanimously in the Senate today.
Tomorrow, a vote is expected in the House on a budget including cuts to nutrition, health care, and other social services.
Some examples of cuts include:
- All 46 million people receiving food stamps (SNAP) will see their monthly assistance reduced; 2 million will be denied SNAP help altogether.
- 280,000 low-income children will not get free school meals.
- Millions of people will lose Medicaid services.
- 350,000 will go without subsidies to help pay their health insurance premiums.
- Hundreds of thousands of abused or neglected children and seniors will go without essential care and protection.
These ten years of cuts have been proposed in a budget procedure called "reconciliation." Reconciliation was mandated after the Super Committee and Congress failed to come to an agreement on the budget last year. This House bill avoids cuts in the Pentagon budget (about $55 billion).
There is still time to take action. If you oppose these cuts, please use the Coalition on Human Needs email service.
According to CWLA, a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report called Eliminating Social Services Block Grant Would Weaken Services for Vulnerable Children, Adults, and Disabled, found that eliminating the SSBG would likely reduce critical services for populations with unique needs. In particular the report notes that eliminating the block grant could create significant service gaps for children who have experienced or are at risk of abuse or neglect.
Editorials Across the State Regarding the Budget
Over the past two weeks, newspapers have been using their editorial pages to share views on the budget. Here are some of the ones that have come to our inbox: