PathWays PA E-Newsletter: September 21, 2009

PA Budget Breakthrough!

Over the weekend, Governor Rendell held a press conference to announce his support of a modified version of the "three-caucus" budget proposal that has been making the rounds since September 10. While details are still emerging, it is expected that the budget will include:
  • $27.9 billion in spending - this is $400 million less in spending than in the last fiscal year. Without federal stimulus dollars, the budget would be about $2 billion less than last year.
  • Increased business taxes and cigarette tax rates (and the expansion of the cigarette tax to cigarillos)
  • Extension of the sales tax to theater and concert tickets
  • Table games at casinos
  • Increased education spending of about $300 million
This version of the budget is expected to be debated next week in the House and Senate, with possible passage by the end of the week (though it will more likely continue into the week of September 28). Once the budget is passed, Governor Rendell noted that the State Treasurer's office would work to get money out to service agencies as soon as possible.

Please continue to see our PathWays PA Policy Blog for updates on the budget and other important policy issues. While there is much hope that we have reached the end of the budget impasse, there are no guarantees that this is the final version. Please continue to contact legislators and remind them of the programs that are important to Pennsylvania’s families.


Urge Your Legislators to Support Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence is a serious problem that needs our attention and the support of our state legislators. Please contact your legislators and let them know that October should be designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Some distressing facts about domestic violence:
  • One in every four women and one in every nine men will experience domestic violence in his or her lifetime.
  • One in six women and one in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.
  • Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
  • 30 percent to 60 percent of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the home.
  • Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.
  • The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services.

Pennsylvania’s Children Need Our Support

While it appears that the budget impasse may be coming to an end, it is critical that essential programs are included in specific appropriation lines, particularly those affecting vulnerable children and families.

Please contact your legislators and ask them to:

  1. Invest in primary prevention;
  2. Provide the necessary resources required to properly investigate, respond to and treat child abuse and violence impacting children; and
  3. Make every effort to approach human services funding holistically.
Specific to prevention, it is imperative that such attention and investment recognize the proven value of Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) – a voluntary home visiting program for first time mothers.

NFP has demonstrated positive outcomes in building the capacity and competence of parents resulting in stronger families and improved health and safety outcomes for children – all of which are fundamental building blocks to a child’s school readiness and future success.

Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania children and families already struggling. Please contact your legislators and ask their support for vulnerable children and families.

Support Families Working Towards Self-Sufficiency

Under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), grants in Pennsylvania pay less than one-third of the poverty line; a family of three, for example, receives only $403 per month in most Pennsylvania counties. This is not enough to pay the costs families face, especially as they are trying to move off of welfare. However, some families also have access to special allowances to obtain employment, education, or training.

Proposals before the Department of Public Welfare (DPW’s) would change special allowances, making it even more difficult for families to escape poverty. These proposals include

  • New regulations that would require families to spend any savings or funds they may have before they would qualify for a special allowance (families sometime save up their money to pay next month’s rent or utility bill or purchase school supplies for their children). This new regulation would require families to spend this money before qualifying for DPW assistance in purchasing a bus pass or other transportation costs, paying for GED testing fees, or buying textbooks for training classes. This regulation would frustrate families’ attempts to improve their lives and may lead to homelessness and instability, when they should be focused on leaving TANF through employment or training.
  • New regulations would impose low limits on the amount of special allowances that a family might receive. For example, an individual would only be able to receive $2,000 in her lifetime to spend on books and school supplies, and $1,500 per year on transportation (including the cost of car insurance.) However, to leave TANF by finding a self-sufficient job, the head of household may need adult basic education or vocational training, often with costs associated. If DPW restricts the amount of special allowances that a TANF or food stamp recipient can receive, she will only be able to choose lesser quality job training or none at all. These limits will prevent many people from earning enough money to leave welfare behind.In this recession, Pennsylvanian families need more help—not less—to obtain quality education and training that will lead to self-sufficient jobs. This package of regulations will only hurt families as they try to work their way out of poverty.

Please urge the Independent Regulatory Review Commission to reject these regulations by contacting:


Come Rally for Health Care Reform!

Health Care for America Now (HCAN), MoveOn, the AFL-CIO and others are holding events all over the country to focus attention on how Americans are being denied the care and insurance coverage they deserve. They are holding a rally in Philadelphia this week.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 22, 4:45 pm
WHERE: Dilworth Plaza, NW corner of City Hall

Former executive turned insurance company whistleblower Wendell Potter will speak as well as AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, and Pennsylvanians who have suffered from a lack of health care.

To RSVP for the event, please click here. Please come out to fight for reform.

Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Greg Potestio at

Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.

The State of Working Pennsylvania 2009

The State of Working Pennsylvania 2009, a report released by the Keystone Research Center, is an annual check up on Pennsylvania’s economy, with a focus on working families. This year’s report finds that federal stimulus efforts are working, but structural reforms are needed to rebuild middle class.

For a full fact sheet please click here.

Support Earned Sick Days in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia!

Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia!

Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. Visit this link to support earned sick time in Pennsylvania, and visit this link to support earned sick time in Philadelphia. Support both!

Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at

Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in:

If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is? Simply type your address here:


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