The Governor's Budget for Pennsylvania

We're heading into another budget season - time to break out the spreadsheets and charts!

Governor Wolf presented his budget today with a focus on education and jobs, with what both sides described as a bipartisan outlook or at the very least places where both parties could find agreement. Overall, the budget increases spending by 4.2% (or $1.4 billion) compared to last year. Nearly $300 million would go towards increased education spending for K-12, special education, and state universities.

Governor Wolf also proposed a higher minimum wage, raising the current rate of $7.25/hour to $12/hour by July and then increasing the wage over time until it reaches $15 in 2025. The last time the minimum wage increased in Pennsylvania was when the federal government increased the wage in 2009.

Here are some of the articles we've been reading on the budget:

Schools, farms and voting machines in Gov. Tom Wolf's budget sightsGov. Wolf unveils budget: more money for public schools and a …

Here's what you can do as the shutdown continues

The government shutdown that began in December 2018 is now the longest in US history. Over 800,000 federal workers are missing paychecks, while millions more contract employees continue to go without work. The New York Times has an ongoing list of people and departments affected by the shutdown, including workers who have been called back to their government jobs to work without pay. CBS News reports that the shutdown has already done $1.2 billion in damage to the national economy. You can find more information on the impact from the Coalition for Human Needs (CHN).

Among those affected by the shutdown are SNAP (food stamp) recipients. While they received their February payments early, there is currently no guarantee that March benefits will be available. People relying on HUD for housing are also being affected, as over 1,000 contracts with housing facilities have not been renewed due to the shutdown.

Take Action:
CHN has information on the shutdown and a sample script for making call…

Important Update on Pennsylvania SNAP

UPDATE (1/16/19): Many people are receiving their benefits BEFORE Friday. Please note - these are not additional or bonus. They are your benefits for February.

If you live in PA and receive SNAP (food stamp) benefits, please read and share this message. You will be receiving your February benefits EARLY. Thanks to our friends at the Coalition Against Hunger for sharing this information.

Download a flyer here.

These are your February benefits coming early – they are not a bonus.You WILL NOT receive additional benefits in the month of February.USDA has directed all states to issue February benefits early – you will not be getting additional SNAP benefits until March at the earliest.New applications for SNAP are still being accepted and processed during the rest of January and during February. Eligible applicants who submit all …

What's affected by the government shutdown

As of today (January 8, 2019), the government shutdown has gone on for 17+ days.  Over 800,000 federal workers in the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of Agriculture have been furloughed or are continuing to work without pay. And while these workers will likely collect back pay when government funding resumes, an estimated 4.1 million additional people who are contract employees for the federal government probably will not.

Beyond those who work for the government, people throughout the country are feeling the effects of the shutdown. Funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has already run out, although states have kept the program going with their own money so far. If the shutdown continues into February or March, it is likely that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) will also run out of money. According to the Coalition Against Hunger, the USDA …

Volunteer for the Delaware County Point-in-Time Street Count

Volunteers are needed for Delaware County: Point-In-Time Street Count. As a street count volunteer, you will be asked to assist an outreach team canvass pre-determined locations for homeless individuals and families. This is a valuable opportunity for anyone who would like a better understanding of the homeless experience in our community.

Date for Point-in-Time (PIT): Jan 23 and 24, 2019.

Find posters and flyers here.

If you have any questions, or would like to volunteer please email Farea Graybill at

Take Action for Immigrants and Refugees

Several items in the news highlight the need to take action for immigrants and refugees this week:
Children remain in detention facilities months after the family separation policy ended. 140 children are still detained, including 117 children whose parents were deported without them.   Asylum seekers are waiting weeks for initial interviews and waiting months for determinations about their cases. This wait was cited among the factors leading to the use of tear gas at the US-Mexico border over the weekend.Citizenship wait times have also increased.Take Action: HIAS offers a number of ways to take action:Join a HIAS briefing call on November 28 at 2pm EST for an overview of the current issues facing refugees and asylum seekers, and the ways you can get involved in taking action. RSVP required.Talking points to use with CongressOther action steps are available at America offers a series of actions you can take with elected officials and in your ow…

Mid-Term Election Roundup

One week after the November mid-term elections, there are still a few races yet to be decided - both at the federal level and in at least one PA state race.

Nationally, Democrats now have a majority in the House of Representatives, while Republicans keep control of the Senate. 36 states had elections for Governor last week. 16 Democrats and 18 Republicans were elected, while 2 races remain undecided.

The 2018 election brought a number of "firsts" to Congress, including the first Native American Congresswomen, the first Muslim Congresswomen, and, for some states, their first African American or female legislators. PBS and The Washington Post have more information on the most diverse group of people elected in American history. 

Here are some takeaways on the election:
From FiveThirtyEight: Voter turnout was huge, with an estimated 116 million additional people voting in the 2018 midterm compared to 2014. 104 new people are going to the House of Representatives.This Congress …