The biggest news is the removal of the Human Services Block Grant, which had been under heavy scrutiny since its proposal by the Governor. In February, Governor Corbett contended that creating a block grant would diminish the red tape counties face and provide them with savings as justification for his decision to cut 20% of the funding from the programs included.
While the block grant has been removed, possibly in place of some new language around executive compensation, at least some of the budget cuts associated with the grant remain. Several of the items covered under the grant, such as Mental Health Services and Homeless Assistance, have lower budgets than last year. Under the budget released today, Mental Health Services would lose $54 million, and Homeless Assistance would lose $2 million.
So far, this budget does not restore General Assistance funding. General Assistance is a program of last resort for single adults who are unable to work due to disability, domestic violence, or drug/alcohol treatment. The program provides these adults with $205/month on average while they await federal SSI or complete treatment for other issues. To learn more about GA, please visit www.pacaresforall.org.
The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program also fell victim to the budget as it was zeroed out based on the numbers released today.
Other budget cuts are being felt in the Department of Environmental Protection, which lost funding in every line item for a total loss of $11.889 million. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Agency saw losses to Grants to Students (-$36 million), Matching Payments for Student Aid (-$658,000), Higher Education for the Disadvantaged (-$118,000), and Higher Education of Blind or Deaf Students (-2,000).
However, Basic Education funding increased by $49 million, and Job Training and Education Programs increased by $2.45 million.