PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - April 28, 2010

State Budget

Funding for Education

Last week the Governor spoke at a number of schools to talk abut the need for funding for education. The Governor’s proposal funds basic education at $355 million, an increase from last year’s budget.
The Governor has suggested five ways to possibly generate revenue for the increase:
  • Cut the sales tax from 6 percent to 4 percent, but lift tax exemptions on 74 items, including candy and gum, personal hygiene products, investment gold, dry cleaning and laundry services, caskets and burial vaults. Sales tax exemptions would be maintained for basic food items, clothing and prescription medications.
  • Tax the extraction of Marcellus Shale.
  • Tax cigars and smokeless tobacco.
  • Raise corporate taxes.
  • Take away the 1 percent discount businesses like Wal-Mart and Home Depot receive for paying their taxes on time.
The General Assembly is hesitant to pass any broad based tax increases, so more proposals and/or cuts are likely.

One School District’s Struggle

The Quakertown School District is facing a $5 million budget gap in their $91 million spending plan. To fill that gap, the school board has discussed cutting staff and closing a first though fifth grade school in the district. These changes will mean larger classes with fewer teachers per student. One fifth-grade class will be increased from 18 to 27 students and two teaching positions will be eliminated.

Even with some of the proposed cuts, it is still likely the district’s budget next year will be millions of dollars short. It is estimated that the district will have a $15 million shortfall by 2012-13.

If the state cuts education funding below what is proposed in the Governor’s budget the $5 million budget gap for Quakertown School District could be even larger.

Philadelphia Budget

The City Council is working on other options to close the $150 million budget deficit this year that include proposals other than the trash fee and tax on sugary drinks.

One of the new proposals includes a 10 percent increase in the city property taxes. A 10 percent increase would mean an average increase of about $139. This would cost Philadelphians less than the proposed $300 trash fee; however, it would only raise $85 million, which is short of closing the deficit.

City Council continues to hold hearings on the budget proposed by Mayor Nutter. 

Action Alerts

Did You Know...

That the return for each dollar invested in the Nurse-Family Partnership, which provides home visits to low-income, first time mothers, is $5.70?

If you or one of your clients rely on this program or think it is important please contact your legislators today and let them know.

Support the Nurse-Family Partnership Program

The Nurse-Family Partnership Program provides nurses to deliver the support first-time moms need to have a healthy pregnancy, become knowledgeable and responsible parents, and provide their babies with the best possible start in life. From pregnancy until the child turns two, nurses visit the homes of low-income, first-time mothers. Over its 10 years in Pennsylvania, 91 percent of babies in the program were born at full term and 95 percent received all recommended immunizations. In addition, 45 percent of mothers who did not have a diploma or GED and who completed the program also earned their diploma or GED. Another 22 percent continue to work toward a diploma or GED.

A large part of the funding for this program comes from the state. While the budget is being worked on, it is crucial that legislators hear about the importance of this program.

Other Important Programs and Action Steps:

While the state budget is very tight this year, it is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about programs that cannot and should not see more cuts this year. Even programs that are not undergoing large cuts need to be advocated for to ensure that changes are not made to their funding during the budget debates. Below we have highlighted just a few of those programs:

Industry Partnerships: Workers who participate in the Industry Partnership program have seen an average 6.62% increase in their wages within the first year after training.
HB 2230, currently in the House Committee on Labor Relations, will institutionalize Industry Partnerships to ensure that this important program remains in Pennsylvania for years to come. If you or your clients have benefited from Industry Partnerships, please let your legislators know by emailing or calling their offices.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs: The greatest predictor of a child's future academic success is the literacy level of the child's mother. Adult education and family literacy programs are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to become self-sufficient. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for literacy, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

State Supplemental Program: Help restore cuts to the State Supplemental Payments for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. As a result of the 2009-2010 budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. If you believe the payments are important. please contact your state legislators and urge them to find ways to restore this cut.

adultBasic: Over 350,000 people are on the waiting list for adultBasic. While those on the waiting list can pay full price for the program until they can access the program, but the cost to buy in has increased 80 percent. Meanwhile, coverage under the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget will not expand beyond 50,000 people. If you or your clients believe that when 12 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are without health care, programs that assist them are essential and need to be expanded, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Child Care Subsidy: At least 6,000 families are on the waiting list to receive the child care subsidy. The subsidy allows parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for child care, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.


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