Petition calls on Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Legislature to restore the 20% cut in Human Services.
On February 7th, 2012, Governor Tom Corbett presented his second State Budget. His $27 billion budget makes drastic cuts in many areas - education, transportation, home mortgage support, and Human Services. The $168 million cut to the Human Services Development Fund is the classic old "switch a roo."
On the one hand, the Governor has done a wonderful thing- he merged seven State funded line items-
Mental Health Services
County Child Welfare Special Grants
Behavioral Health Services Initiative
Homeless Assistance Program (HAP)
Human Services Development Fund (HSDF)
Act 152 Drug and Alcohol
-into one block grant giving County Governments the flexibility and responsibility to spend the money as they feel would better serve their residents who need help. This is a good thing as Counties tend to know best and can draw from multiple sources to help individuals and families who have multiple needs.
But here is the "switch a roo" - while the Governor is giving counties more flexibility with the block grant, he is whacking 20%, or $168 million, from their budgets - all in the name of efficiencies! Good luck County Commissioners in trying to find 20% in savings in one year while the number of families needing help continue to rise.
And what are some county officials saying?
"We can't set human services back 20 years, and that's what (Corbett) is doing," said President Commissioner Steve Chronister (R-York).
"A 20 percent reduction, that's very significant," Commissioner David Keller(R-Franklin County) said.
"It's a real challenge ... because the demand keeps growing. We have waiting lists in most of these programs," said (Marc) Cherna, (Director, DHS Allegheny County) "how many more people don't get served who need it or how much longer does it take when somebody needs a service?"
State House Majority Whip Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, said the governor's proposal is only a "starting point," and he wouldn't vote for it as proposed.
Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, also said the budget will change considerably before a vote, and there are several areas with which he's upset.
On the cut in mental health funding, Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick III D-Dauphin County) said this week, "Literally, people could be turned out on the street. They could end up in prison or worse."
Who will be squeezed with these cuts? Those with physical disabilities, at-risk children, intellectual and mental health services, and programs for the homeless or those in threat of becoming homeless and those that strive to bring them to the programs that work.
The Campaign for What Works is an initiative of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, The Pittsburgh Foundation and the United Way of Allegheny County. The Campaign for What Works supports ideas like the Human Service Development Fund block grant, but the Campaign for What Works opposes a 20% cut. Please join together to tell Governor Corbett and our State Legislators to restore the 20% to the HSDF Block Grant.
Whereas, many Pennsylvanians are still hurting and working to recover from the most severe recession of our times and have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own; Whereas Pennsylvania supports the provision of essential and necessary human services for the health, safety and increased independence of # residents who are elderly, # have physical and intellectual disabilities, # are at-risk children, struggling families, and those that are # homeless or at-risk for homelessness; whereas the maintenance of these programs is significantly necessary to improve the health, and stability for # individuals and to strengthen the Commonwealth by reducing long-term costs in other programs and health costs; whereas the desire and acceptance for county oversight to effectively appropriate funds by expanding the Human Services Development Fund (HSDF) block grant is negatively impacted by the reduction of the cumulative funding amounts of seven program areas, already stretched to their limits, by $168.4 million; whereas that reduction will further increase the number of people on waiting lists and those who will not receive vital services and the families that struggle to care for them, increase the reliance on nonprofits and religious organizations that already struggle and strive to meet the needs of the public, and increase the burden of county officials to determine which programs to cut and which citizens to turn away,
We, the undersigned, as concerned citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, respectfully request and unite to urge Governor Corbett, the members of the Appropriations Committee and all of our elected legislators to restore a flat funding level consistent with the 2011-2012 budget cumulative totals to the HSDF block grant, and in doing so, ensure that the transition to the expanded block grant is efficient and that our most vulnerable citizens have access to the services they deserve.