Monday, October 5, 2009
This blog post begins with a mea culpa: Friday at mid-day I posted a note on Facebook saying the House had just voted for a revenue plan that nullified the handshake budget agreement announced two weeks ago.
In actuality, it took the House another ten hours to vote for the plan. Almost five of those hours were filled with passionate speeches from House Democrats for the benefit of folks back home: about the harm a tax would inflict on the arts, culture and local fire companies, about the importance of taxing smokeless tobacco and paying to clean up the environment once corporations drill for natural gas. Republicans chimed in with well-worn arguments about the need to reduce government spending.
The truth is, the handshake agreement was off before the House even began debating an alternate tax plan. While speeches on the House floor may reassure voters, and while the House plan is much better than the one embodied by the handshake agreement (click here for analysis from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center http://www.pennbpc.org/house-approves-sustainable-revenue-plan-sends-senate ), Friday’s vote further delays passage of a budget that’s already more than three months overdue.
This is terrible news for children and families who depend on state-supported services including education, child care, behavioral health, mental health/mental retardation and child abuse prevention services, to name a few. Facing budget uncertainty as the school year began, a number of local school districts were forced to cancel programs that depend on state funding. Head Start and other early childhood education programs are shuttered. Youth workers have been laid off. Behavioral health professionals are working without pay. Many wonder how much longer this situation can last. And yes, each day does matter to kids who need these services.
What’s next? The Governor and leaders of the Senate are reportedly meeting to come up with a new spending plan. Frustrated with the delay, the Senate has been threatening to pass its own version of a spending bill. One concern is that it would be based on the dreaded SB 850, which the Senate passed in June. That bill called for deep cuts to basic education spending, pre-K, Head Start and a host of other programs. (Click here for cuts to children’s programs in SB 850: http://pccychildwatch.blogspot.com/2009/07/senate-bill-850-vs-governor-rendells.html.)
A House revenue plan and a separate Senate appropriations plan could very well put us back at square one. Try telling that to the parents and early childhood education providers who are already talking about mobilizing for the next election—that is, if they survive this budget impasse.
• Ask your Senator and Representative to bring a greater sense of urgency to this year’s budget negotiations and to enact fair and sustainable revenue options next year.
• Ask your state Senator to support the House revenue plan.
Click here for contact information: http://capwiz.com/pccy/state/main/?action=setaddr&view=myofficials&state=PA&address=&azip=19119&city=&bzip=1499&permanent=on
Friday, September 25, 2009
This afternoon I attended a meeting of child care providers from around the city who gather regularly to address shared concerns. Often discussions tackle issues like how to make the bureaucracies providers interact with more responsive to their needs. Sometimes they focus on the quest to obtain affordable health insurance for the child care sector. Once a year the group holds a gala luncheon for hundreds of child care practitioners, at which they honor programs that have met higher quality standards over the past year.
Today the conversation was all about the state budget. About the importance of sticking together to advocate for the needs of families with young children. About holding legislators accountable for the promises they make to expand investments in child care. About notifying parents now that providers will close for a day next spring to lobby in Harrisburg.
Heady stuff. If there were providers in the room who doubt whether they’ll still be in business by then, they kept their doubts to themselves. Many haven’t been paid since June. Some have received only partial payments since the end of the fiscal year.
The story is familiar by now: without a current-year budget, the state hasn’t been able to pay the agencies it contracts with to provide child care for approximately 50,000 low-income children from 0-5 in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Depending on the population they serve, some child care providers receive as much as 90 percent of their income from these reimbursements.
What’s less well-known than the struggle in Harrisburg to pass a budget is the toll this struggle is taking on in neighborhoods. The woman sitting next to me this afternoon told me she hasn’t been paid by the state since June. When I asked how she’s managed she said she and her husband have exhausted their personal savings. Calmly, she told me they can last for one more week before they have to close. (A statewide survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Office for Child Development and Early Learning revealed that 31 percent of providers estimate they’ll be forced to close by the end of September if they don’t receive state funds.)
A number of providers at the meeting have taken out second mortgages on their homes. Some are collecting unemployment and volunteering at their centers. One woman stopped making car payments. Even after state money starts to flow gain, it won’t compensate them for the interest paid on loans, late fees, higher unemployment compensation rates and other fees they’re incurring as a result of this crisis. Still, the discussion stayed focused on solving problems and moving forward.
Then a guest speaker was introduced from the Philadelphia Unemployment Project. He began by talking about resources to help families that are struggling. Then he spoke about mortgage foreclosure, encouraging providers to refer families they work with to various foreclosure diversion programs. He emphasized that there’s no shame in asking for help, and even allowed that “some of you may even be struggling with this.”
A woman raised her hand and asked a “hypothetical” question about renegotiating the terms of a loan. Only it became clear that the question wasn’t hypothetical. Others asked specific questions – too specific to be asking on behalf of friends and neighbors.
If these (mostly) women were strictly in it for the money, they would have closed down weeks ago. But they’ve kept their doors open -- often at great personal sacrifice -- because they care about kids in their communities. Because they know families would have no where else to turn. Because they believe every child has the right to show up on the first day of kindergarten ready to learn.
Please honor their beliefs, hard work and efforts to keep moving forward by urging your legislators to enact this budget quickly.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
PCCY urges legislators to continue to work with a sense of urgency to pass a budget based on this framework, as the halting of state revenue to local agencies has had a devastating impact on essential services for children and families. The longer we wait, the more vulnerable they become.
We are encouraged that despite intense pressure to do otherwise, legislators and the Governor agreed on a framework that demonstrates long-term commitment to education and appears to maintain Pre-K services and protect children’s health care. This is quite a feat in this economy, but one we believe was absolutely necessary.
Nevertheless, some local school districts will not receive all the federal economic stimulus funding anticipated from the state. PCCY remains concerned that this will have a negative impact on local school districts. We are waiting to learn how line-item decisions will affect child care subsidies, youth and family services.
The surprise inclusion of a sales tax on tickets to arts and cultural events and the continued exclusion of taxing smokeless tobacco was short-sighted and bad for children and community health. It is unfortunate that the original proposal of a small increase to the Personal Income Tax was not taken seriously by a majority of our legislators, as it would have provided a more comprehensive and fair approach to raising needed new revenue. Likewise, taxes on smokeless tobacco, candy and similar items should have been considered. We must all be part of the movement to develop long-term and equitable approaches to funding essential services for children and youth instead of picking and choosing taxable items in last-minute, back-room deals.
We hope to report more as firm and reliable information on this year’s budget becomes available. Meanwhile, thank you for all your efforts to secure a budget that supports our kids!
To sign up for regular e-alerts from PCCY go to http://www.pccy.org/.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Recent articles (and here, here, and here) in the local Southeast PA newspapers have done a good job of portraying the hardship endured by children and family service providers whose payments have been delayed due to the state budget impasse. Still, this is only half the story.
Deep cuts to children's services -- those found in Senate Bill 850 -- would have permanent devastating effects for all providers and programs. The crisis being experienced currently by the social service community is a taste of what would come to be a chronic systematic disaster were these cuts to pass.
It's important that our editors understand that children and family service providers want both a swift budget resolution and a budget that fully funds children and family services without deep and harmful cuts.
Please take a few moments to write a letter to the editor in your local community to fully explain this position.
Your voice can lend clarity to the budget crisis and aid our legislators in passing a budget that fully funds kids and families.
To send a letter to the editor via email
- Philadelphia Inquirer: inquirer.letters@
- Delaware County Daily Times: newsroom@delcotimes
- The Daily Local News (Chester County): editor@dailylocal.
- Bucks County Courier Times: letters@phillyBurbs
- The Times Herald (Montgomery County): Shuskey@timesherald
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
More than 200 people gathered in front of the Media Courthouse on August 11 to raise their voices for a state budget that supports children and families.
Bringing together service providers and advocates, the rally addressed both the devastating impact of proposed budget cuts found in Senate Bill 850 and the tremendous impact the budget stalemate is having on programs throughout the Delaware Valley.
The rally was sponsored by 28 organizations representing a cross-section of advocates and social services that support children and families in the Delaware Valley region. Speakers addresses the proposed cuts impacts on basic education, early education, child care, libraries, the arts, disability services, mental health, work supports, housing, prevention and community development.
For more information on how you can hold a rally in your community to support a budget that fully funds children and families, please contacts PCCY at 215-563-5848.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Protect families, children and investments in stronger communities by raising your voice for a STATE BUDGET that supports Pennsylvania!
Featuring speakers from education, child care, business, housing, prevention services, health, children’s healthcare, disability rights, community development, the arts and more!
(List in formation. To co-sponsor or for questions, firstname.lastname@example.org, 215-563-5848 ext. 12)
Let YOUR voice be heard about the impact of these cuts on the future of your communities! There HAS to be a better way! Join us in telling our legislative leaders to FIND ONE!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Under the leadership of Southeast Pennsylvania’s own “Cool Hand Dom” (Sen. Dominic Pileggi of Delaware and Chester counties) the programs listed below will be slashed – some as much as 100 PERCENT! You can help save them.
1). WRITE TO THE INQUIRER. Let the Inquirer’s editors know you’re not as impressed with Pileggi’s cost-cutting efforts (see below) as they are! (‘Cool Hand Dom’ a key player in budget battle) Tell them how your community will be impacted by the service cuts that Pileggi proposes.
2). ATTEND A “THANKS FOR THE CUTS, SENATOR PILEGGI!” RALLY THIS Friday (7/31), 12 noon, outside the Senator’s Chester, PA, office,. 415 Avenue of the States, (Bring SIGNS stating your area to be cut. See below.) For more information, contact email@example.com, call 215-563-5848, ext. 12 or link to www.pccy.org/ealerts.htm.
Budget Line Item Cuts Under the Republican Budget Proposal
Drug Education and Law Enforcement 100%
Violence Prevention 100%
Police on Patrol 100%
Safe Neighborhoods 100%
Inmate Education 21%
CHIP Program 10,000 Children Cut
Cancer Programs 57%
HIV/AIDS Programs 25%
Regional Cancer Centers 100%
Tourette Syndrome 100%
Children's Hospital in Philadelphia 100%
Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh 100%
Fox Chase Cancer Institute 100%
Burn Foundation 100%
Pre-K Counts 50%
Head Start 50%
Adult Literacy 27%
Charter Schools 12%
High School Reform 75%
Science and Math Education 100%
Customized Job Training 54%
Business Retention and Expansion 100%
Small Business Development Centers 62%
Minority Business Development Agency 100%
Housing & Redevelopment Assistance 100%
Grants To The Arts 100%
Long Term Care 100%
Services to Persons with Disabilities 100%
SOURCE: 2009-10 Senate appropriations State General Fund Budget Chart
3). INFORM YOUR DISTRICT LEGISLATOR . . . he or she needs to stay on the job until the job is done. If you’re in Philadelphia, let them know your city is suspending payments to vendors. No recess until you pass a budget that responds to the education and human service needs of your constituents!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Spend a few hours phone banking with PCCY this week. We are calling voters in the Philadelphia suburbs to let them know their Senators are placing ideology before children’s lives and suggesting they take action.
Voters are very responsive to these calls. If you volunteer during the day or evening (until 8 pm) we’ll provide training, phone lists, snacks and good company.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Reprinted from the Delaware County Times, Saturday, July 25, 2009
By SID HOLMES, Times Guest Columnist
All Pennsylvanians who want their taxes increased, raise your hands!
Me neither, but this is the wrong question to ask. A more appropriate one is, are we better off making drastic cuts to children’s health care, child care, education and a host of programs protecting vulnerable families in our communities? Or should we be penny-wise and pound-foolish with Pennsylvania’s future?
To continue reading, click here:
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Twice in the past week the Pennsylvania House rejected Senate proposals to cut $2 billion from the budget – mostly from programs for children and families. (For a list of children's programs threatened by Senate action click here.)
In contrast to Friday's decision, House members yesterday voted by a three to one margin to nix the latest Senate budget, basically a rehash of SB 850. That's all Democrats and half the Republicans in the House! Speaking afterward, Majority leader Todd Eachus said: let’s be clear…what binds us together are the children, the children in…pre-K programs, the children in our basic education system…and children’s health. (Click here to see press conference with House leaders and the Governor.)
Each of his colleagues echoed this point, underscoring the extent to which they are hearing from child advocates. Yet our job isn't over: the House and Senate budget bills will now go to a conference committee to work out a compromise.
While negotiations take place it is especially important to keep the pressure on Senators who can be persuaded to support a budget that’s good for kids. Yesterday’s House action demonstrated this is what the majority of Pennsylvanians want. If Senators hear from us in large numbers they will ask their leaders to modify positions.
If you live or work in Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Eastern Montgomery County it is crucial that you contact your Senator listed below. (If you aren’t sure who your Senator is, click here and enter your zip code in the lower left.)
Tell your Senator:
* Pass a budget that funds education, child care, children’s health and other services for children at the levels requested by the Governor; and
* Enact a modest, temporary tax increase to fund these services during the recession.
(Click here http://www.capwiz.com/pccy/issues/alert/?alertid=13772151&type=ST to send an email from PCCY's web site.)
If you don’t live or work in these counties here are three things you can do:
1) Forward this email to friends, colleagues and family members in these areas and ask them to contact their Senators;
2) Participate in a phone bank to residents of these counties. PCCY will host a phone bank all day Thursday. We’ll provide training, telephone lists and snacks. (If you’re interested but can’t make these times, contact us at email@example.com.)
3) Thank your Representative if he or she voted to protect children and families in this year’s budget. Urge them to hold their ground during negotiations this week. (Click here http://www.capwiz.com/pccy/issues/alert/?alertid=13772076&type=ST to send a letter from PCCY’s web site.)
We have an important opportunity to extend Pennsylvania's progress funding early childhood education, K-12 education and children’s health. Call your state Senator now and tell him or her you're ready to pay a little more so that kids and families in our state can have a better future!
Pileggi - Chester (part) and Delaware (part) Counties. (717) 787-4712
Erickson - Chester (part) and Delaware (part) Counties. (717) 787-1350
Greenleaf - Bucks (part) and Montgomery (part) Counties. (717) 787-6599
McIlhinney - Bucks (part) and Montgomery (part) Counties. (717) 787-7305
Rafferty - Berks (part), Chester (part) and Montgomery (part) Counties. (717) 787-1398
Tomlinson - Bucks (part) County. (717) 787-5072
Wonderling - Bucks (part), Lehigh (part), Montgomery (part) and Northampton (part) Counties (717) 787-3110
Saturday, July 18, 2009
For an update on the House budget vote last night -- one that's especially relevant to Southeastern Pennsylvania residents and what we should do next -- click here:
Friday, July 17, 2009
Click here to watch State Rep. Payton address education advocates at the Don't Turn Back the Clock rally Thursday at the Capitol! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5ToYQh9DgA.
House Democrats are currently in caucus but the House is expected to vote today on HB 1416.
The Senate will be in session over the weekend and is expected to vote on the budget Monday night.
Call your Senator now. Tell him/her to:
*reject the cuts in SB 850.
*vote for a budget that restores funding to EDUCATION, CHILD CARE AND CHILDREN’S HEALTH PRIORITIES.
Click www.legis.state.pa.us/ for Harrisburg phone numbers; www.pccy.org for more information.
Do it now -- don't delay!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The House is considering HB 1416, which restores many of the cuts in SB 850 -- with the exception of $118 for the Basic Education Subsidy and $15 million from Pre-K. (It's important to note that HB 1416 is balanced mainly because it removes higher education funding from the General Fund. At present it is unclear how this would be paid for.)
Meanwhile, an ammendment to HB 1416 submitted by Rep. Mario Civera essentially re-introduces the cuts to children's programs from SB 850. Essentially it would cut approximately $2 billion from child care, education, children’s health and other programs children and families depend on, especially during an economic downturn. (See yesterday's post for details.) It remains to be seen whether Civera's ammendment will be accepted.
We know we can do better for Pennsylvania children and families!
Please take a few minutes this afternoon to call the Chairs of the House appropriations committee.
PS: if you prefer to send an email click here.
Tell Rep. Evans (D-Philadelphia): (717- 783-1540)
3. Enact a modest, temporary tax increase to support these programs.
Tell Rep. Mario Civera (R-Delaware County): (717- 787-3850)
1. Vote for a budget that restores funding for Basic Education, Child Care Works and Pre-K and children’s health. Cuts to these programs will have a devastating impact on Pennsylvania children and families.
2. Enact a tax increase to support these programs.
Thank you for all your terrific efforts thus far to pass a budget that’s good for kids.
For downloadable budget flyers, emails and background information see http://www.pccy.org/.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
That's the name of a book that was popular when it came out 15 years ago and hopefully something every college student knows how to detect by the time he or she graduates.
We don't know why the media has persisted in framing the Governor's proposal to raise the Personal Income Tax (PIT) as "a 16 percent increase."
While not exactly a lie, it obscures the fact that that the proposal would actually raise the PIT by half a percentage point -- from 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent. While that may be a 16 percent increase relative to the present rate (currently the second lowest in the United States), in absolute terms it's still half a percentage point. (To see what it would mean for your family see June 25 post, below.)
But 16 percent of course sounds much more ominous -- and much less affordable. Which is why anti-tax absolutists, those who oppose any tax increase regardless of the human, social and economic costs -- have spun this as a 16 percent tax increase. That doesn't explain why the media have bought it hook, line and sinker.
Speaking of costs, here's a partial listing of programs that would experience significant funding reductions if SB 850 is apporoved:
Early Childhood Education
Head Start Supplemental Assistance
Child Care Works
Nurse Family Partnership
Basic Education Subsidy
School Improvement Grants
Dual Enrollment Payments
Teacher Professional Development
Career and Technical Education
High School Reform
Charter School Reimbursements
Services to Non-Public Schools
Obstetric and Neonatal Care Covered by Medical Assistance
Maternal and Child Health
Inpatient Care for Children Covered by Medical Assistance
Children’s Health Insurance Program
Support for Local Hospitals
Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services for Children
County Child Welfare Services
Violence Prevention Programs
Juvenile Justice / Public Safety
Weed and Seed
Juvenile Probation Services
Juvenile Justice Services
For more detail on these and other cuts scroll down to July 1, 2009 post.
Are there services you care about on this list? If so, call your Democratic and Republican Representatives and Senators right away! Tell them:
*Vote no on SB 850 to preserve vital services for Pennsylvania's children.
*Raise the Personal Income Tax to pay for these services.
Yesterday the Governor held a Capitol press conference on the impact of Senate Bill 850 on children and youth. To see a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette click here:
Monday, July 13, 2009
Please take a few minutes to call or fax your state legislators (yes, Representatives and Senators from both parties) today and tell them to:
*preserve crucial services for children and families; and
*enact a temporary tax increase to pay for these services.
A vote on SB 850 could come up in the House as early as this afternoon.
For details on proposed cuts and what a tax increase would mean for Pennsylvania families see July 1 and June 23 posts, below.
For legislative contact information click here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/index.cfm.
To sign up for occasional e-alerts email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See Ed Schwartz's op-ed, Socially and Fiscally Responsible Taxes, in today's Daily News by clicking here: http://www.philly.com/dailynews/opinion/20090713_Socially___fiscally_responsible_taxes.html
Saturday, July 11, 2009
DON’T PLAY CHICKEN WITH OUR CHILDREN’S LIVES!
Pennsylvania General Assembly Gambles With The Future
As the General Assembly wrapped up its second week without a budget House Democrats, some frustrated with Republican opposition to a modest tax increase (for details see June 25 below) and others firmly opposed to an increase themselves, proposed on Thursday to vote SB 850 (a disasterous budget for Pennsylvania children and families -- for a list of cuts see July 1 post below) – out of committee early next week. This would allow the full House to vote on it.
While we haven’t had time to analyze the full impact of this latest alternative here’s one tidbit: it would add 14,000 children to the statewide waiting list for subsidized child care. The waiting list already stands at 16,000 – a record high and twice what is was last summer. (For PCCY's recent report on the subsidy waiting list click here.)
On Monday the Governor is holding a press conference to discuss the impact on children and families. Advocates will be a presence in the Capitol every day next week (see below). Senator Vincent Hughes is holding what is expected to be a well-attended briefing on Monday afternoon in Philadelphia City Hall to discuss the impact of the budget on mental health services.
Whether you've been advocating for a children’s budget since last winter or you’re just hearing what’s at stake for the first time, NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE A STAND!
If you have three minutes, call your state Senator and Representative. Tell them to:
*Pass a budget that maintains services for children and families;
*Enact a temporary tax increase to pay for these services; and
*Vote against SB 850!
(If you don’t know who your legislators are or need contact info click here and enter your zip code in the upper right. Calls are better than e-mails at this point, but e-mail if you must.)
If you have ten minutes, send this message to friends, colleagues and neighbors and urge them to the same thing.
Download post cards and flyers.
Take them to meetings with you to distribute.
Post the flyers in public places.
If you have an hour and a half on Wednesday night and want to join a phone bank, email@example.com and we’ll send you the time and location.
Check this blog, http://www.pccy.org/, PCCY’s facebook page and http://www.pennbpc.org/ for frequent updates.
Thanks for all the great work you're doing on behalf of the region’s kids!
Excerpts from a Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (http://www.pennbpc.org/) e-mail of July 10:
Things are very bad and getting worse.
…on Monday July 13, the House will begin a process to move Senate Bill 850 onto the the floor for a vote, probably sometime the following week. Since SB 850, which cut $1.3 billion from the Governor's budget, is now somewhere between $1.4 and $1.7 billion out of balance, the Governor and House leaders may announce further cuts.
It is entirely possible that SB 850 could pass the legislature and the Governor could use his authority to make the final cuts necessary to balance the budget.
PBPC has been working with the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign and many other groups to plan and organize events at the state capitol next week to bring home the message that the state budget should not be balanced with cuts and to promote the need for additional revenue.
We need you to show your support. Please join us if you can any day Monday through Friday of next week. Our goal is to keep pushing out a strong public message and to ensure that groups opposing budget cuts are more visible in the capitol.
We are looking for a big event on Friday and to schedule events for the week of July 20th. Please let me know if you can help.
Mon. July 13: 11:30 am Rotunda: Better Choices for PA: Faith Groups and Early Childhood
Tues. July 14: Noon Capitol Steps: Public Employee Unions 1 pm: Lower Rotunda: Better Choices for PA: Disabilities Rights Coalition
Wed. July 15: 11 am: Rotunda: Better Choices for PA: Workforce Development, Housing, Philadelphia Coalition for Essential Services
Thurs.July 16: 10 am: Penn Future and Environmental Groups 11 am: School Funding Campaign
Friday, July 17: 11 am: To Be Determined We have resources on our website,
Thursday, July 9, 2009
This afternoon the Pennsylvania House – with support from Democrats and Republicans alike – voted for a “NO TAX INCREASE BUDGET.”
The House could vote for the Senate budget as early as Tuesday morning.
It is crucial to call your Representative now to avoid deep cuts in services for low and moderate-income children and families. Tell him or her to--
Vote for a budget that:
Maintains services for low- and moderate income children and families;
Takes a balanced approach to solving Pennsylvania’s budget crisis, one that relies on revenue from the Rainy Day Fund and a temporary tax increase.
If you do not know who your Representative is or need contact information click here.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Senate Leaders Urge Service Cuts
Passed by the Senate in May, Senate Bill 850 makes deep cuts to early childhood education, children’s health insurance, basic and special education, autism services, mental health and mental retardation services for children, and public libraries.
In Scarnati’s district the unemployment rate ranges from 9.1 percent to 16.1 percent -- well above national and Pennsylvania averages. Over the past year it grew by a robust 6.6 percent. Corman’s district has a 14 percent poverty rate.
07.07.09 Abbreviated Poverty and Unemployment Chart
Although SB 850 failed to win House approval in June, many Senators still insist that it serve as the basis of budget negotiations with the House and Governor’s office.
If you live in Senator Scarnati’s or Corman’s districts – or even if you don’t -- how you suppose residents will cope with these cuts to basic services if the Senate version of the budget prevails?
How do you think residents will cope with the tax increase proposed by the Governor to maintain these services? For more information about the impact of proposed cuts in services and tax increase, see posts from June 25-July 1, below.
To post your remarks, click on ‘Comments’ below.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Well..in this instance, regionalism ain't doing too well.Below is Senator Pileggi's latest statement on the budget, followed by a release put out today by two Democratic candidates running against Mario Civera--who is now running for Delware County Council. It joins the issue pretty well.
Meanwhile, the William Penn School Board in Delaware County voted on June 29th a 4.375% Property Tax hike to support their schools--about $120.00 more for an average homeowner with a house worth $75,000. That's $2.30 per week more just to support the schools. Wouldn't an .82 increase from Harrisburg that would support families, schools, hospitals, and small businesses make more sense?
Ed Schwartz, Institute for the Study of Civic Values
Enacting a Responsible State Budget
One fact – a simple, indisputable and painful fact – is at the center of the ongoing debate about Pennsylvania's state budget: the Commonwealth has a revenue shortfall of $3.3 billion.
My view, and the view of the Senate Republican Caucus, is that we should do exactly what hardworking families across Pennsylvania are doing: cut our spending to match the level of available funds.
The view held by the Governor and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly is that the state should increase taxes – including a 16.3 percent, $1.5 billion increase in the personal income tax – to spend more on government programs.
I believe it is wrong to increase taxes at a time when so many people are losing their jobs, losing their homes, and struggling to make ends meet.
Two months ago, the Senate passed a budget that does not increase taxes, relying instead on cuts to state spending. Since that time, the 203 members of the House have yet to debate or vote on a budget.
Instead, the Governor and his public relations apparatus have engaged in a full-time effort to convince you that the Senate's approach will cause the sky to fall in Pennsylvania.
An objective look at the numbers shows that while difficult choices must be made, essential government services can be maintained and improved without increases in taxes and spending.
Under the Senate-approved budget, state and federal funding for public schools would increase by more than $720 million, or 11.7 percent. That is a generous increase in any year. It is an extraordinary increase during these difficult times.
Of the 62 school districts in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, 57 will receive an increase of more than 10 percent – and all of them will see increases of at least six percent. Philadelphia School District, for example, will receive $212 million in new funds, a 20 percent increase.
Schools will also receive an additional $500 million in capital funds for renovations and construction.
In addition to those substantial new investments in our public schools, the Senate-approved budget protects public safety by providing increased funding to the Pennsylvania State Police and the Department of Corrections. The social safety net provided by the Department of Public Welfare will remain strong with a funding increase. And funding for many other key programs – such as children's health insurance and autism services – will be maintained or increased.
The sky is not falling.
There is no question that the Senate-approved budget contains many spending cuts. Some of those cuts were very difficult to make, and I hope will be reexamined when the recession ends.
But cuts have to be made, because the only alternative is increasing taxes. And a tax increase will not only hurt individual Pennsylvanians, it will also slow down economic activity and cause the recession to last even longer.
Just last month, the Governor himself said, "This is a bad time to raise taxes because any tax increase hurts the level of spending. So I am philosophically against raising any taxes."
He was right then, and I urge him to return to that position. Tax increases are both unnecessary and counterproductive.
As you think about the state budget, here are the most important numbers to keep in mind:
In the current fiscal year, 2008-09, Pennsylvania is spending $27.7 billion.
The Senate-approved budget for 2009-10 would spend $27.3 billion, reducing total state spending by 1.4 percent.The Governor is seeking a 2009-10 budget of nearly $29 billion, a spending increase of about $1.3 billion.
Now, ask yourself this question: In the worst recession since the Great Depression, does it make more sense for the Commonwealth to hold the line on taxes and reduce spending modestly, or to increase your taxes to pay for a significant increase in government spending?
The answer is clear. We need to live within our means.
I urge the Governor and the House Democratic leaders to support a spending plan that maintains core government services without a tax increase on hardworking Pennsylvanians.
More information about state issues can be found on Senator Pileggi's web site, http://www.senatorpileggi.com/.
$.82 per day–That’s what the income tax increase proposed by Governor Rendell will cost households earning $70,000 per year in Delaware County, which is the median family income here.
Delaware County’s two leading representatives-- State Senator Dominic Pileggi and State Representative Mario Civera say their constituents can’t afford it. Senator Pileggi is the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Representative Civera is the Republican Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. They are united in saying that the voters of Delaware County can’t afford to take the steps needed to strengthen our County during the recession. Delaware County Council candidates Nancy Baulis and Keith Collins are in awe of our elected official’s lack of concern for our local economy and the well-being of our schools and neighborhoods.
“We’re seeing the same thing we’ve seen for decades in Pennsylvania and beyond; short term gratification over long-term strategy. Let’s face it; it’s easy to understand why some politicians fail to think about the long-term effects of their legislation: In many cases, they won’t have to clean it up later, or even answer for their poor choices. It is clearly up to us, the constituents, the voters, to change their way of thinking and remind them who they work for and why they’re in office – to serve the good of the county both today and tomorrow.” – Keith Collins, Candidate for Delaware County Council.
But the question remains, do these cuts represent what the voters of Delaware County really want?
Here are some of the realities we face if we do not act against the proposed cuts:
Families-Thousands of families will lose access to child care, thousands more will lose social services that they desperately need for their children, and state funding for job training will be all but eliminated. Is this how we help one another in a recession?
Schools- Schools in Delaware County will lose $9.4 million in federal funding. Senator Pileggi and State Representative Civera want to use this federal stimulus money to replace Pennsylvania’s support for schools–not increase it… That’s not what the Obama administration had in mind–and they’ve already said so. But Pileggi and Civera tell us that increases in other federal programs for schools ought to be enough. The schools don’t really need that $9.4 million. Is that what the voters of Delaware County would say, if they understood what was happening here? We need to ask them.
Hospitals-With 75,000 Delaware County residents receiving Medicaid–most of them senior citizens–and thousands of our kids depending upon insurance from SCHIP– Pileggi and Civera refuse to increase Medicaid and SCHIP in Pennsylvania. They’ve even voted to eliminate support for critical access hospitals, trauma centers, obstetrical and neonatal services, and burn centers. While Congress works to increase support for health care, Pileggi and Civera are voting to take it away.
Small Businesses-Small businesses throughout Delaware County have turned to Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development for help in financing and in finding new markets for their products. Pileggi and Civera have now voted to terminate these programs. They’ve also voted to cut funding for the Keystone Opportunity Zone, where businesses can locate tax free. The City of Chester–where Senator Pileggi was Mayor–was included in this program. Now he has voted to end it. How is this supposed to help the city which supported him for so many years?So this is the real choice facing the voters of Delaware County: they either pay an average of 82 cents a day–or less--to help their families, their schools, their hospitals, and small businesses during this critical period, or they pay a heavy economic and social price later on. Senator Pileggi and Representative Civera insist that their constituents can’t pay the price.
If the voters of Delaware County don’t agree, they need to speak out nowbefore it’s too late. As candidates for Delaware County Council, Nancy Baulis and Keith Collins are prepared to speak out for the future of our county. “We’re not politicians, we’re just concerned citizens poised to make a difference and do something progressive for our county. Good representatives of the people reach out to them for their support when major issues like this arise. Here in Delaware County, such collaboration with the community at-large is a rarity at best.
As an educator and a community leader I can see how detrimental to our county’s social health the proposed budget cuts would’ve been to us today and in the future. I’m sure there are tens of thousands of county residents who wish they’d had an opportunity to voice their opinion about how Civera and Pileggi’s budget plans are selling out our county’s future.” – Nancy Baulis, Candidate for Delaware County Council
ABOUT THE BAULIS/COLLINS FOR DELAWARE COUNTY COUNCIL CAMPAIGN – Recent winners of the county primary, Nancy Baulis and Keith Collins are running for Delaware County Council to restore balance and bring fresh new ideas to county leadership. Focused on the development of collaborative partnerships between the county, its municipalities, and its citizens; the team of Baulis/Collins aims to influence lasting progress that makes Delaware County government more effective, efficient, and ethical. While the candidates are running on the democratic ticket, they stand for all of Delaware County, providing a voice for people who simply want good, efficient government regardless of how they’re registered to vote. A voice for the progress of our county…leadership without partisanship.For more information on the individual candidates, you can visit their web pages: Nancy Baulis – URL=http://www.baulisforcountycouncil.com/; Keith Collins – URL=http://www.friendsofkeithcollins.com/. In addition their team website, http://www.abetterdelco.org/ will be launched in late July of this year.
Ed Schwartz, Institute for the Study of Civic Values, 1218 Chestnut St.,Rm. 702, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107 215-238-1434 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The following table compares selected programs for children, youth and families that would be affected by cuts under SB 850 and the Governor’s recent budget proposal.
Please feel free to use this document when speaking to peers, co-workers, friends and legislators about the impact cuts to services would have on Pennsylvania's children, youth and families.
(To view the full-size table, click on the 'Toggle Full Screen' button in the upper right hand corner below.)06 30 09 PA Senate Bill 850 v Rendell Budget