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ACTION ALERT: As PA Budget Takes Shape, Welfare Cuts Remain a Major Issue
Starting Monday, the legislature will make one final push towards a 2012-13 state budget. The budget deadline is June 30. As we move closer to a budget agreement, I want to provide an update on where things currently stand.
In May, the Senate passed a state budget plan that increased spending to $27.656 billion, adding more than $517 million to Gov. Tom Corbett's original budget plan that was unveiled in February.
Incredibly, the governor sought to eliminate General Assistance funding in his budget plan. This is a cruel cut and a devastating one for many economically-desperate Pennsylvanians. Unfortunately, despite strenuous efforts made by the members of the Senate Democratic caucus we were unable to restore funds for General Assistance in the budget that cleared the Senate.
Our hope was that enough pressure could be applied during House consideration of the budget that the governor would relent and fund this critical line. Based on information we have received concerning the developing budget agreement, the governor has insisted that funds be cut for this line and money diverted to other programs in the General Fund.
General Assistance Funding Cuts: Ignores the Plight of 70,000 Vulnerable Pennsylvanians
I remain deeply troubled and concerned that the needs of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable continue to be ignored in these budget negotiations. Social service and child-care programs are once again feeling the pain of budget cuts.
Watch Senator Hughes on
PCN's Call-in Program on the PA Budget - June 19, 2012
Guests: Sen. Vincent Hughes, (D- Montgomery, Philadelphia) Democratic Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sen. David Argall (R-Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, Schuylkill), a Republican member on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
We are at a critical moment: 70,000 Pennsylvanians are in dire jeopardy of losing their sole source of income.
The General Assistance program, which provides temporary, but critical support to tens of thousands who do not qualify for any other program but have temporary need of assistance, is set to close on July 1.
Individuals who are disabled, children, women who have been abused, folks trying to get free from drug and alcohol abuse and caregivers of children who are disabled or those without custodial parents are those who benefit from the modest $205 monthly GA payments.
Here is a snapshot of the people who use General Assistance:
- Women fleeing domestic violence utilize General Assistance for up to nine months. They are using this funding to get themselves out of a dangerous, potentially fatal situation.
- Those in drug and alcohol treatment use GA funds for no more than nine months as they get treatment and find employment.
- Disabled individuals who are awaiting their federally-funded Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income.
Without any evidence of fraud, waste and abuse in the General Assistance program, elimination of funding is downright dastardly. By eliminating these funds, we are taking away the last resort to a better life for many people. There are no alternatives to General Assistance. Recipients can expect more hardship.
General Assistance saves these individuals from using other, more costly social services such as homeless shelters, foster care, and hospitals, saving the state from further economic burden.
It is imperative that we preserve the General Assistance program.
Cuts to Child Care Hurt Too
The budget proposes additional cuts to child care. The result is that there will be fewer facilities and less access to quality child care for parents that have to work.
Meanwhile, as these funds are being cut out of the Child Care lines ($67.925 million in state dollars) over the past two years, 13,000 children remain on the waiting list for these services.
If these social service and child care programs are not restored in the budget, the devastation will resound throughout the state.
The Governor and House leaders must not backtrack on our efforts to restore critical funding needs. With the June 30 budget deadline looming, I will continue to work toward a budget that makes key restorations to human services programs and reflects the needs of ALL Pennsylvanians.
We must all ramp up our efforts to fight for this critical assistance. I plan to continue discussing this issue with the governor and my colleagues in the Senate Republican leadership.
I strongly encourage you to contact your House member and the governor to protest these cuts. The governor CAN and SHOULD solve this problem.
You can find out more specifics about the 2012-13 State Budget and provide your feedback on my website at senatorhughes.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@SenatorHughes).
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes