Thursday, March 31, 2011

Update on Childhood Obesity & Nutrition Initiatives and Media Coverage in 2011

Childhood obesity and adequate nutrition in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas has been the focus of media coverage and governmental agendas this year. Much has been made about what and how much children in Philadelphia eat, and the growing negative effects these habits are having on childhood health. We’ve provided a summary of the major initiatives and news stories that have been a part of the local and national conversation so far this year.

In January the federal government released updated nutrition recommendations, including an interactive, personalized food pyramid model, in an effort to bring attention to the necessity of a sea change in the way Americans approach sustenance. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack summarized the government’s objectives:

“The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore. These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country.”

Following its federal counterpart, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health launched its Get Healthy Philly initiative with a multimedia ad campaign to alert parents to the downsides of sugary drink consumption by their children. The Get Healthy Philly program is designed to enact a series of interrelated policy and systems reforms that improve the food and physical activity environments in communities, schools, after school settings, and worksites. The program seeks to accomplish this mission by making healthy foods more accessible and affordable for Philadelphians, decreasing the availability and consumption of unhealthy foods, and promoting physical activity in daily living.

The objectives of the Get Healthy Philly initiative closely mirror those set out in the national Let’s Move! program led by Michelle Obama that was also launched this year. The Let’s Move! program aims to significantly reduce childhood obesity within one generation. The program’s comprehensive approach includes: giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices; providing healthier foods in America’s schools; ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food; and helping children become more physically active.

Perhaps spurred by the abundant government activity around nutrition reform, The New York Times recently ran an article highlighting the challenges Philadelphia parents face in changing their kids’ snacking habits. The piece focuses on the prevalence of corner stores in the area and the key role that they play in supplying cheap, unhealthy and abundant snacking options to Philadelphia children and the contributions these snacks have had in Philadelphia’s childhood obesity problem. According to the article, Philadelphia’s childhood obesity rate is among the Nation’s highest. Other media commentators have also delved into the paradox of childhood hunger that persists even while kids become more overweight.

Philadelphia’s WHYY’s Radio Times program also picked up on the trend, with an hour-long interview of two area experts on the causes and effects of childhood obesity, as well as current medical research efforts. The interview also highlights socio-economic, race and gender differences in childhood obesity rates in Philadelphia.

Also locally the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia announced this month that they are the recipient of a $10 million grant to study childhood obesity prevention. The grant will support expansion of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Healthy Weight Program services into additional neighborhoods of Philadelphia and into new clinical areas with the goal of more than tripling the number of patient visits each year. The grant, funded by the Foundation for a Healthy America, a non-profit entity created by the non-alcoholic beverage industry, will support clinical care, policy research and outreach and prevention efforts relating to childhood obesity to help educate Philadelphia children about the importance of balancing calories and engaging in regular physical activity as ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

If you would like to share your thoughts on childhood obesity and nutrition in our schools, you can visit the Food Research and Action Center’s website to weigh in the USDA’s plans to revamp school lunches.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March is National Nutrition Month

In recognition of National Nutrition Month, the Community Health Data Base released data on adult nutrition and access to fresh food from the 2010 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey.

The data show that many adults in our region may not be getting the nutrition their bodies require. Survey results also show that in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, some adults don’t have access to the fresh fruits and vegetables they need for a healthy diet.

Findings from the study include:
- Nearly half of adults (18+) in Southeastern Pennsylvania eat fewer than three servings of fruits or vegetables each day.
- About one in eight (12.9%) SEPA adults living below the Federal Poverty Line describe their experience finding fruit and vegetables in their neighborhood as difficult or very difficult, compared to one in twenty five (3.8%) adults living above the Federal Poverty Line.
- 30.6% of adults who have a difficult time finding fruits or vegetables in their neighborhood describe their health as fair or poor.

The above information was provided by our friends at PHENND and the Community Health Data Base website.

Pathway’s Path$ 2 Benefits initiative is a resource to help SEPA families access the nutrition they need. Path$ to Benefits can help families by offering specific tools and strategies which build financial literacy and savings. Path$ 2 Benefits can assist families in accessing resources and benefits such as SNAP (food stamps). Families who take part in the Path$ 2 Benefits program have a real opportunity to change their lives for the better.


Call PathwaysPA at 610-543-5022 or 800-377-8846 for more information.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Geraldine Ferraro's Legacy

(photo credit)

Former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro passed away over the weekend after a long battle with blood cancer. She is best remembered as Walter Mondale’s running mate in his unsuccessful 1984 Presidential campaign. At the time, her bid for Vice-President was heralded as a watershed moment in Women’s history. NPR Reporter Cokie Roberts, who was covering the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco that year, recalled the scene:

"Oh, it was incredible. You know, it swept through San Francisco the night before, maybe two days before, that she was going to be the pick. And there was a tremendous amount of excitement among the women particularly that there was actually going to be a female on the ticket. And then when she came into the convention hall to make her speech, this tiny figure in white up there on the podium, the women in the room really were just undone with excitement and emotion, many people in tears. And I do confess that I went over to a colleague from ABC who was covering the campaign and squeezed her hand. We had been college dorm mates and even though we were covering it and dispassionate on air, it was a moment - it was a moment in women's history."

For many women, Ferraro’s nomination represented a push against the political glass ceiling that had largely kept women out of national politics. “She was a champion for women and children and for the idea that there should be no limits on what every American can achieve," Bill and Hillary Clinton said in their statement on her passing, “She paved the way for a generation of female leaders and put the first cracks in America's political glass ceiling.” However, Ms. Ferraro was not immune from feeling the glass ceiling push back. She reflected on her experiences on the campaign trail as a trial of her political capabilities as a woman and not merely as a candidate:

"My biggest challenge in the '84 campaign was doing the job so that I didn't let down women. In many instances because I was the first there were people looking at me and saying, 'I just hope she's able to handle it,' because if I failed, they would fail. It's a lot of pressure. It's pressure that they don't put on a man, obviously. I mean, look at Dan Quayle. If that had been a woman who had either made his mistakes in the campaign or during the four years of the vice presidency, it would have been a disaster. So the pressure is really quite acute, until we get enough women doing the job. It's just a matter of getting the people in there making their voices heard."

Ms. Ferraro’s trailblazing work, despite its laudability, was not enough to clear the political path for Mrs. Clinton twenty-four year later during her 2008 run for President. Even as female representation grew in Congress over the intervening two and a half decades between their respective campaigns, Ms. Ferraro’s observation that “until we get enough women doing the job [in Congress]” the pressure of being a female candidate above all else will continue to predominate political discourse and the way that Americans understand women as politicians. Hopefully, Ms. Ferraro’s lasting contribution to American politics will be that she was one of the first of many women to push against the glass ceiling until there are enough women “doing the job” that they cease to be female candidates and are instead simply candidates in the eyes of Americans.

PathWays Job Postings March 28, 2011

Residential Worker
Part-time and Full-time - need caring and motivated individual to provide support and supervision for Delco group home serving women and children; HS/GED, Associates Degree and experience preferred; driver’s license required. Includes nights and weekends. Fax resumes to: LD/CFF 610-328-2807.

Live In Advisor
Full-time and Part-Time positions available. To provide guidance, direction and supervision to older adolescent teen mothers and teen girls residing in our Supervised Independent Living Program including conducting some life and parenting skill groups. Live in a house with 3 to 4 girls and their children. Must be available during critical hours-5:00 PM to 8:00 AM- can work part-time during off hours. Must be mature and have an understanding of teen parent and teen girl issues and must have knowledge of basic life skills. Rent and utilities paid by agency plus small stipend and scheduled time off. Location: Philadelphia; Fax resumes to LD/SIL at 610-328-2807.

Truancy Case Manager
Maturity and ability to handle pressure, flexibility, detail-oriented, good organizational skills, and familiarity working with at risk families. Provide own transportation and hold flexible hours. Bachelor Degree in Social Work or related field and Valid Driver’s license required. Fax resume to LD/MT at 610-328-2807.

Part-Time Life Skills Coach/Mentor
The Life Skills Coach/Mentor shall possess the ability to identify with and adapt to the goals and philosophies of the agency. They shall possess the knowledge and skills necessary to teach life skills and the maturity necessary to interact with women from various backgrounds. They shall be organized, non-judgmental, and shall demonstrate good problem solving skills. She/he shall be of sound character and have the flexibility, perseverance, and integrity necessary to engage and provide role modeling for young mothers. They shall be a team player and have some knowledge of teen parenting issues. High School Diploma/GED and three years experience working with women and children. AA or BA in social services preferred. Please fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention LD/MR.

Part-Time Mentoring Coordinator
The Mentoring Coordinator will have experience with issues related to older adolescents and will have some knowledge and understanding of volunteer recruitment and retention. They shall possess the ability to identify with and adapt to the goals and philosophies of the program. They shall be a mature individual with knowledge of parenting issues, community resources, and the skills necessary to live independently. They shall demonstrate insight, empathy, flexibility, perseverance, and team orientation. A BSW or bachelor’s degree in related field of study is required. Please fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: LD/KM.

Grant Writer
PathWays PA seeks an experienced, successful full time Grant Writer. We are a Delco-based nonprofit serving women, children & families primarily in Philadelphia and Delaware County. Candidates must be PC literate, and possess superb writing and research skills. Need a proven track record in obtaining major funding from government, foundations, and corporations. Minimum BA degree required. Fax or email your resume, two writing samples, a history of your success in grant writing and salary requirements to 610-543-6483. Please respond to jlane-margetich@pathwayspa.org or fax to 610-328-2807.

PathWays PA is an Equal Opportunity Employer

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: March 28, 2011

Federal Policy Update

PROTECT VULNERABLE FAMILIES & ECONOMIC RECOVERY IN CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET
Current funding of the federal budget will expire on April 8, 2011. Harmful cuts to Head Start programs, health care, housing, education, job preparation, and nutrition assistance, among other essential programs, were abundant in the proposed House budget.

Ask your Senators to oppose these cuts in the proposed Senate bill by sending them an email and urging them to reject the House cuts. You can also take action by writing letters to the editor opposing the cuts.

Visit the Coalition on Human Needs website for tips on letter writing and sample letters.

EMERGENCY HOMEOWNER LOAN PROGRAM IS STALLED

EHLP, the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program, means $100+ million to help Pennsylvania homeowners facing foreclosure due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment, or medical condition. EHLP was enacted by Congress as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173). It was supposed to start operating by October 1, 2010, but EHLP is still not up and running.
Adding to the void created by EHLP’s delay, the Homeowner’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) has been zeroed out by Governor Corbett. This means that unless EHLP is operating soon, there is no mortgage safety net for Pennsylvanians, and many could lose their homes to foreclosure through no fault of their own. To make things even harder, Congress is considering eliminating funding for Housing Counseling and 62% in cuts to Community Development Block Grant programs, which help homeowners facing foreclosure - read more in Liz Hersh's recent letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Please call Shaun Donovan, Secretary of HUD, to release the EHLP funding to Pennsylvania now at: (202) 708-0417.

The above information was provided by our allies at The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

State Policy Update

TAKE ACTION TO ENSURE ADULT LITERACY PROGRAMS ARE FUNDED IN THE PROPOSED STATE BUDGET

Adult literacy is critical for the economic development of PA. As budgets are finalized for Fiscal Year 2011 - 2012, please remember that basic skills are the foundation for workforce development and therefore the engine for job creation and employment. Contact your members of the General Assembly and let them know that Adult Literacy funding is essential in Pennsylvania.

Visit the Pennsylvania Association for Adult Continuing Education website for more information.

Information/Events

ADVOCATING FOR HOMELESS SERVICES IN HARRISBURG, APRIL 5

Homeless service advocates and providers are joining efforts around the state to urge Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to restore the Human Services Development Fund to its Fiscal Year 2010 appropriation of $23.8 million. They are also working to urge Congress to fund the federal McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Program.

When: April 5, 2011, 11 AM to 12:30 PM
Where: Room 302 in the Irvis Building, Harrisburg (adjacent to the main Capitol Building)

Among a number of social services, HSDF is a core-government service that is a critical and flexible source of funds that are targeted toward local problems as identified by local leaders. In many counties, HSDF provides the first step to helping a homeless family or individual find safety and housing. Last year, nearly 5,000 men, women, and children from throughout Pennsylvania were helped.

McKinney Vento is the largest federal source of funding for services benefitting homeless persons. Congress is debating whether or not to support a national strategy that has gained success over the past few years.

To attend the summit, contact Joe Willard, People’s Emergency Center, jwillard@pec-cares.org, or 215.382.7522 x 264.

WISCONSIN PAID SICK DAYS VICTORY

This week the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, upheld a Paid Sick Days Ordinance that had been facing legal challenges since its passage. Because of a lawsuit against the ordinance, workers had been prevented from using the paid sick days since Wisconsin voters approved the ordinance in 2008. While the Court’s decision is a victory because it enables Wisconsin workers to access paid sick leave, the fight against the ordinance is not over; a bill preventing local control of paid sick leave ordinances is pending in the state legislature.

Learn more about Wisconsin’s paid sick leave initiatives on the 9to5 website, and join the efforts in Philadelphia to bring paid sick days to our area!

APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH

The President, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, have dedicated this April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Though child abuse and neglect are ongoing issues, it is during this month that we can work harder than ever to help raise awareness and educate people about what they can do throughout the year to keep our children safe. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect by strengthening families and communities.
Research shows that five important factors are present in healthy families. Promoting these factors is among the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. They are:
  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete supports for parents

To increase the understanding of the impact of child abuse PECO Energy and Conoco Philips have generously sponsored the annual Stand for Children Breakfast on Thursday, April 14th at 8 am at the Drexelbrook in Drexel Hill. Michael Galantino, Esq. Deputy District Attorney in the Special Victims and Domestic Violence Division of the Office of the District Attorney of Delaware County will speak on the impact of trauma on the brain.

RALLY FOR A RESPONSIBLE BUDGET

On May 3rd, 2011 there will be a Rally for a Responsible Budget at the state capital between 1:00-2:00 to address the major cuts in Governor Corbett’s proposed budget.

Free bus rides are available if you sign up now! Go to http://www.clearforpa.org/ for more information on the rally and to sign up for the buses. Space is limited on the buses, so sign up ASAP, but no later than April 19.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT POLICY & PRACTICE LECTURE

Join CLASP on May 9th for an event on how workforce policy and programs can best contribute to economic growth, community renewal and individuals' economic mobility.

Confirmed Speakers:
  • Ray Marshall, U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Carter Administration
  • William E. Brock, U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Reagan Administration
  • Steven Gunderson, Republican Congressman from Wisconsin 1980-1996
  • Kitty Higgins, Deputy Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration
  • Roberts T. Jones, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training in the Reagan and Bush Administrations
This is an especially strategic time for a bi-partisan discussion on how workforce policy and programs can best contribute to economic growth, community renewal and individuals’ economic mobility. Today, as we emerge from a recession, U.S. workers and businesses face daunting challenges that require a strong workforce system. We will need to ensure that all segments of our ever more diverse workforce are prepared for an innovation and skill-based economy. The pending reauthorizations of workforce-related programs provide an opportunity to address these challenges. Yet, despite a history of bi-partisan support in Washington and in the states for employment, training and workforce education programs, constrained resources threaten their very existence.

The symposium will be held May 9, 2011 from 3:00-4:30 PM at the Dirksen Senate Office Building SD-562, Washington, D.C. For more information visit the CLASP website.

"Children create works of art for PathWays Center for Families"

The 12-year-old boy sat alone by the piano.

Renowned artist Dane Tilghman saw him as he came to PathWays PA’s Center for Families in Wawa two weeks ago to work with about a dozen children to create artwork for the non-profit’s fourth annual Charity Art Show and Auction.

He walked over and sat next to him.

“For me, the main thing really was connecting with the 12-year-old boy,” Tilghman said of his three-hour experience March 5. “I asked him what he wanted to be.”

The Center for Families is among the multitude of programs provided by PathWays PA to help keep low-income, vulnerable women together with their children on a path toward self-sufficiency. Based in the Holmes section of Ridley, it serves almost 6,000 clients in the Philadelphia area through social services, job training and employment assistance.
To read the whole article, please visit The Delaware County Daily Times website.

Friday, March 25, 2011

100th Anniversary of Triangle Shirtwaist - by Leslie Frey

Image of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25 - 1911March 25, 2011 marks the 100 year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women, in a garment factory in New York City. In the years following the 1911 tragedy, many labor laws were passed in response to the fire that led to significant gains in the protection of workers, from measures requiring fire escapes and limiting the worker occupancy, to others that protected the health of workers, including requiring proper ventilation and sanitary working conditions.

It is poignant that the anniversary comes at a time when workers’ rights have re-captured the national spotlight, as state legislators across the country have recently pushed to limit or repeal the very labor reform laws that grew out of the outrage that stemmed from the needless deaths of so many workers.

Keira Marcus’ grandmother was a factory worker at the Triangle Factory when the fire broke out. Her grandmother survived, and her life and story serve as a reminder to Ms. Marcus that when the workplace fails workers, government leaders have to step in and ensure that workers are safe and healthy. Ms. Marcus comments in an opinion piece published this week that states are still failing to provide workers with the protections that they require. She writes,

In San Francisco and Washington, there are laws that ensure workers are able to take a few days of paid time off when they’re sick. Bills in the [New York] state Legislature and [New York] City Council would bring paid family leave and paid sick days to New York, and we must encourage our elected leaders to move forward on these policies. One hundred years ago, the tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory pushed New York to improve working conditions. Unfortunately, today’s New York has a long way to go in providing the modern-day protections that workers and their families desperately need.

Ms. Marcus’ words ring true for Philadelphians as well- the Philadelphia City Council is currently considering legislation that would grant workers paid sick days. Opponents to the legislation claim that paid sick time will hurt employers and drive businesses from the city. Similar claims were made against labor reforms following the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and they proved to be unfounded. Some lessons that were learned from the Triangle Shirtwaist fire have endured the test of time- protecting the health of workers should be among them. Although some may think that sick time is not an issue of tragedy, the lack of earned sick time can be tragic for the worker who loses their job, or the ill child who cannot receive the care they need

Visit PathWays PA blog on paid sick time in Philadelphia at http://earnedsicktime.blogspot.com/.

This Week in Harrisburg - March 21-March 25, 2011

Pennsylvania State CapitolThis week, legislators at the Capitol focused not only on Pennsylvania issues but addressed international crises as well. Lawmakers heard testimony regarding the state’s growing gambling industry, and liquor industry.

Senior staff from both the State Employee and Public School Employee Retirement Systems (SERS & PSERS) testified before the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday on their 2011-12 budgets and the issues facing their investment plans. Discussion largely focused on the impact on the systems of the various global events, including Sudan and Iran divestiture legislation enacted last year. Both assured the members that they are continually assessing the global markets and adjustments are made as needed. Members also explored options to reduce costs in the system, but were continually stymied by the constitutional prohibition on reducing benefits of current members.

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and House Democratic leaders said on Tuesday that the system of state stores is too valuable to turn over to private operators as many top Republicans are pushing to do. “To now divest ourselves of that business and lose $500 million a year in profits doesn’t make sense,” said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee.

According to an Associated Press article, an analyst says Pennsylvania’s growing gambling industry is bringing stiff competition to the casino industry in Atlantic City, N.J., and that the state could surpass struggling Atlantic City in terms of gaming revenue sometime next year. Andrew Zarnett, a managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities, told the Pennsylvania Gaming Congress and Mid-Atlantic Racing Forum on Tuesday that Pennsylvania could overtake Atlantic City as the nation’s second-largest gaming market sometime next year.

USDA Has New and Updated Outreach Materials in Spanish

Chile Rellenos(From our friends at the USDA)

For the past few years, many partners who work with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service have requested more of our outreach materials in Spanish. We are excited to announce two new Spanish outreach materials, as well as draw your attention to many of our useful existing materials. We encourage you to check out these materials and spread the word that they are available for download or order.

The Summer Food Service Program Outreach Toolkit has outreach tips for how to reach families and children, media, schools, and other community organizations. It also has a series of templates for letters, press releases, calendars, posters, and much more. These templates can be customized with your organization’s contact information and feeding site details. The toolkit and all the templates are now available in Spanish; click here to download!

How To Get Food Help, the low literacy, clear language brochure for consumers about how to apply for USDA’s nutrition assistance programs is now available in Spanish as well. You can order up to 700 copies for free at http://snap.ntis.gov. You can also learn more about how to use this brochure in your outreach efforts and download a PDF version in both English and Spanish by clicking here.

And don’t forget to check out the existing outreach materials and tools in Spanish…

  • The SNAP Prescreening Tool can be found in Spanish here.
  • And even the SNAP Retailer Locator is available in Spanish here!
  • You can also find healthy, low-cost recipes from SNAP-Ed Recipe Finder in Spanish here.
  • Make sure to download the SNAP radio PSAs in Spanish here!

If you like reading stories about food and nutrition, please check out FNS E-Updates - Your fun, fast, and healthy source for food and nutrition news. 

To receive FNS E-Updates bi-monthly emails, subscribe here.

State representative Margo Davidson hosts Financial Fitness Forum with PathWays PA

As part of Davidson's commitment to serve constituents in the 164th District, the free tax preparation services will be available to families with total household income of up to $50,000 per year to help them receive the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

"The Earned Income Tax Credit is a valuable program created in 1975 that helps working families and has been expanded under both Democratic and Republican presidents. It benefits everyone because it rewards work and reduces reliance on public assistance. i am proud to be hosting volunteers from the Campaign for Working Families and PathWays at my office to help residents of Upper Darby, East Lansdowne and Millbourne to file their federal taxes and receive this credit," Davidson said in a press release.
 To read the full story, please visit The News of Delaware County's website.

PathWays PA Budget Alert

STATE BUDGET UPDATE

Notes from Day of Reckoning Budget Briefing

Below are some notes taken during a recent budget briefing put together from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition. To see all the notes, please follow us on Twitter @PathWaysPolicy.
  • Tax revenue is coming in above projections. Pennsylvania could end the year with a surplus possibly as high as $78 mil. Despite this surplus, revenue is still below pre-recession levels.
  • The Governor’s proposal is relying on Tobacco Fund Settlement to help balance the budget by moving revenue into the General Fund. Without the Settlement money overall spending would have decreased by 4.5%.
  • The budget proposal includes the elimination of 1550 positions. Many of the positions are already vacant.
  • In the proposal, basic education sees a large cut. For southeastern Pennsylvania this means a cut of $1.4 million for the Southeast Delaware County School District, a $2.8 million cut for the Upper Darby School District, and a $1.9 million cut for the William Penn School District.
  • Since the FY 2008-2009 budget, adult literacy has seen 46% in cuts.
  • Community colleges are bursting at the seams during the recession with students wanting more education and training, but community college funding is being cut.

For more information from this and other briefings, please visit the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s website where you can see a video of one of the briefings.

PROGRAMS THAT NEED YOUR SUPPORT

Adult Education and Family Literacy

Adult education and family literacy program are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to be or become self-sufficient.

Despite the importance of adult education programs they continue to be cut in the budget year after year – this year being cut by $2,474,000.

Please contact your state legislator today and let then know how important these programs are to you and to Pennsylvania.

Basic Education

The state budget proposed by Governor Corbett takes aim at education, slashing one billion dollars from public education funding and cutting aid to Pennsylvania colleges and universities by 50%. Meanwhile, prison budgets are being increased and Pennsylvania is still the only state that doesn’t tax natural gas drilling or smokeless tobacco.

Public Citizens for Children and Youth is urging everyone to contact their legislator to urge funding for more full day kindergarten, for youth to learn and grow, and to build jobs and build our workforce.

Click here to e-mail your legislators NOW to say NO to the Governor's proposed budget cuts.

Industry Partnerships

On March 8, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his 2011-2012 General Fund Budget. Despite difficult budget constraints, the Governor showed his support for the Industry Partnership program by allocating $ 1.613 million to fund the building of Industry Partnerships. The Governor’s budget, however, zeroed out the Industry Partnership training line item, which had been $5.95 million dollars in last year’s budget. Since the 2008-09 budget the Industry Partnership program has been cut over 90%, from $20 million to $1.613. While many partnerships are wisely diversifying their funding, 90% is a very deep cut.

The PA Fund for Workforce Solutions is working with other advocates, including PathWays PA, over the next several months to persuade legislators and the new administration to restore funding for Industry Partnership training.

Information on the Governor's Budget can be viewed on the PFWS website at www.workforcepa.com or at the state website at www.state.pa.us.


SAVE PROGRAMS BY SUPPORTING THE CLOSURE OF TAX LOOPHOLES

From our friends at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition.

Since the bulk of state funding is invested in local communities, a cuts-only approach to Pennsylvania’s budget will result in higher property taxes and more limited access to local services for children, seniors and many others. Lawmakers can preserve local services and rein in property taxes by taking a more balanced approach to the budget.

The legislature has left revenue on the table by failing to close loopholes and end special tax breaks. Unlike every major energy state, Pennsylvania has no natural gas drilling tax. It is the only state without a smokeless tobacco tax. Loopholes allow large multistate corporations to game the state’s tax system and avoid paying taxes. And Pennsylvania’s sales tax is riddled with exemptions (for products like gold coins and helicopters).

Please urge your members of the General Assembly to support the programs that support Pennsylvania and ask them to do so by ending special tax breaks and closing corporate tax loop-holes.

BUDGET HEARINGS

If you would like to follow the budget progression in real time below is a list of the upcoming budget hearings:

THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 2011
10:00 a.m. (HOUSE) Department of Community and Economic Development
1:00 p.m. (HOUSE) Department of Health, including Department of Drug and Alcohol

9:30 a.m. (SENATE) Department of Environmental Protection
1:00 p.m. (SENATE) Department of Transportation
3:00 p.m. (SENATE) Department of Aging

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011
9:30 a.m. (HOUSE) Judiciary
10:30 a.m. (HOUSE) State-Related Universities (University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, Temple University, and Lincoln University)
1:30 p.m. (HOUSE) Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
2:30 p.m. (HOUSE) Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA)

9:30 a.m. (SENATE) Office of Auditor General
1:00 p.m. (SENATE) Judicial Department
3:00 p.m. (SENATE) Department of Labor and Industry

TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2011
10:00 a.m. (HOUSE) Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
1:00 p.m. (HOUSE) Department of Education

9:30 a.m. (SENATE) Department of Education
1:00 p.m. (SENATE) Department of Corrections/Probation and Parole
3:00 p.m. (SENATE) Office of Attorney General

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2011
9:30 a.m. (HOUSE) Department of Labor and Industry
10:30 a.m. (HOUSE) Community Colleges
11:30 a.m. (HOUSE) Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
1:30 p.m. (HOUSE) Department of Public Welfare

9:30 a.m. (SENATE) Department of Public Welfare
1:00 p.m. (SENATE) Department of Agriculture
3:00 p.m. (SENATE) Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 2011
10:00 a.m. (HOUSE) Budget Secretary – Office of the Governor/Executive Offices
1:00 p.m. (HOUSE) Testimony from House Members

9:30 a.m. (SENATE) Department of State
10:30 a.m. (SENATE) Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA)/ Homeland Security

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Presentation on the State Budget

(From our friends at the SEPA Budget Coalition)

Harrisburg observer Sharon Ward’s PowerPoint presentation on the proposed budget drew a lot of attention during our budget briefings over the past days.

Download it here to see its many great talking points.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Article in Delaware County Daily Times: Organizations lambaste cuts in guv’s budget plan (With Video)

By Danielle Lynch
dlynch@delcotimes.com

MEDIA — Officials from statewide organizations discussed how Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed 2011-12 budget will affect Delaware County agencies, residents and school districts during a meeting Tuesday.

“This budget reduces spending to levels of two years ago,” said Sharon Ward, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, during the budget briefing at Media Borough Hall.

To read the whole article, please visit http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2011/03/23/news/doc4d8965b5a5159374535540.txt.

Industry Partnership Updates

(Thanks to our friends at PFWS for providing this information.)
  • Industry Partnership legislation: Senator Brubaker’s proposed bill for codifying the Industry Partnership program in statute (SB 552) now has 35 sponsors, demonstrating strong bipartisan support for Industry Partnerships. The legislation has been referred to the Senate's Labor and Industry Committee and could receive Committee consideration the first or second week of April. Please contact members of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee and ask them to report SB 552 WITHOUT AMENDMENT. Contact information for the Labor Committee members and a sample letter of support can be obtained on the PFWS website at www.workforcepa.com.
  • Industry Partnerships in the State Budget. On March 8, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his 2011-2012 General Fund Budget. Despite difficult budget constraints, the Governor showed his support for the Industry Partnership program by allocating $1.613 million to fund the building of Industry Partnerships. The Governor’s budget, however, zeroed out the Industry Partnership training line item, which had been $5.95 million dollars in last year’s budget. Since the 2008-09 budget the Industry Partnership program has been cut over 90%, from $20 million to $1.613. While many partnerships are wisely diversifying their funding, 90% is a very deep cut. PFWS will work with other advocates over the next several months to persuade legislators and the new administration to restore funding for Industry Partnership training. Stay tuned for future action alerts.

    Information on the Governor's Budget can be viewed on the PFWS website at www.workforcepa.com or at the state website at www.state.pa.us.
  • Workforce Development Hearings. On March 2, 2011, the Senate's Labor and Industry Committee held a committee hearing on Workforce Development issues. While Industry Partnerships were not the primary subject of the hearings, they were addressed by two of the witnesses.
    Linda Blake, Executive Director of PA Partners, said that the Industry Partnership approach has improved the delivery of employer-based training and that both state and federal funding sources should continue to support this approach.
    Patrick T. Beaty, Acting Secretary for the Department of Labor and Industry, testifying for the Corbett Administration, said: "While the Department has improved its relationship with business, in general, through its Industry Partnership program, there is still a disconnect between employers and the workforce delivery system at many points." Secretary Beaty’s observation underscores the for the Industry Partnership program to continue and to mature. The program provides a previously “missing link” between workforce education and the economy. By informing community colleges, vocational schools, and other trainers and educators with better intelligence on industry needs, Partnerships increase the return on all private and public funds invested in skill upgrading, not just from Industry Partnership funds.
Please visit the PFWS website at www.workforcepa.com to view the Labor Committee hearing testimony.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post from The Advocates Agenda: Welfare Reform Act of 2011 Unveiled

(Thanks to The Advocates Agenda and Cathy Palm for this post.)  

Welfare Reform Act of 2011 Unveiled
Caps spending on means-tested programs (e.g., Head Start, Title IV-E Foster Care, TANF, SSI, EITC, etc.)

March 17th - Earlier today members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which began the 112th Congress with the Spending Reduction Act and a push for at least $100 billion in immediate cuts to federal spending – unveiled the Welfare Reform Act of 2011.

The legislation is being championed by RSC Chairman Jim Jordan as well as Congressmen Tim Scott and Scott Garrett.

In unveiling the legislation they cited a speech from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 that “launched the American welfare state.” At that time FDR said, “Continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit…”

RSC officials then remind that since the War on Poverty was first waged in 1964 America has spent $16 trillion in federal and state dollars on welfare programs. Spending that “grew by 292%” over the last two decades.

They frame spending on welfare programs over the next decade as $10.3 trillion even as the programs “have not achieved the stated aims of their authors, which was to reduce poverty and to increase self-sufficiency.”

A YouTube video talks about welfare spending as “a broken system that is bankrupting our country.”

Jordan said money is not the answer instead “We need a smarter approach that promotes self-reliance and acknowledges the interconnected nature of all our anti-poverty programs.” He continued that a job is “the most effective welfare benefit.”

The RSC is ready to put forth a plan that “reverses course” by requiring the following:

  • Complete disclosure of total “means-tested welfare expenditures (for the 77 existing programs”) in the President’s budget;
  • Imposing an “aggregate spending cap” on such programs limiting spending to 2007 (“pre-cession) levels “plus inflation growth”;
  • Enforce the spending cap;
  • “Extend work requirements to the Food Stamp Program;”
  • Tap $300 million of the current welfare spending for “grants to states that successfully reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency;” and
  • Prevent federal funding of abortion.

Included in the 77 welfare means-tested programs that would be subject to the spending cap (not the exhaustive list): Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Earned Income Tax Credit (Refundable Portion), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Title IV-E Foster Care, Title IV-E Adoption Assistance, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, Healthy Start and Maternal and Child Health, Food Stamp Program, School Breakfast and Lunch, Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Section 8 Housing, Homeless Assistance Grants, Rural Housing Services, Youth Employment Grants, YouthBuild, Title XX Social Services Block Grant, Family Planning, Head Start, Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the Community Development Block Grant.

Excluded from the cap: Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation and “any program designed exclusively or primarily for veterans of military service.”

The cap would not be in place, enforced until the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.5 percent or less. RSC officials stipulate that they are not requiring any cuts in a particular program because this is an “overall cap.”

Title I addresses the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and is cited as the Welfare Reform Restoration Act. It reduces the TANF Block Grant by $1 billion to $15.6 billion and eliminates the modified caseload reduction credit.

Scanning the Title II work requirement section of the bill related to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly known as Food Stamps), several requirements stand out including:
  • No minor child can receive SNAP benefits unless they reside with an adult “who is the family head of the same family of which the child is also a member.” That adult must be “eligible to participate” and “lawfully residing and eligible to work” in the United States.
  • In single-headed households the adult would have to work at least 120 hours per month to qualify for SNAP benefits.
  • Married couples also would be required to work 120 hours per month with the requirement being a “single joint obligation” that can be met either by only one party working or their work hours being combined.
  • Where adults are obligated to participate in the “work activation program” and do not then “no member of the family unit shall be eligible to receive food stamp benefits” in the following month.

Work requirements will be fulfilled when a person is engaged in supervised job search, community service activities, education and job training, workfare or drug or alcohol treatment.

The three states with the “greatest percentage increases in self-sufficiency ratio of the state for the preceding fiscal year over the self-sufficiency ratio of the state for fiscal year 2007” would receive a grant of $100,000.

Self-sufficiency is defined as when a family (single or two-parent) have a combined income, “excluding means-tested welfare spending” exceeds the poverty line.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DPW Press Release - LIHEAP Application Deadline Extended to April 15

Oil heaterHARRISBURG, Pa., March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett's administration today announced that Pennsylvania's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, will be extended more than two weeks, giving eligible households extra time to seek help paying their winter heating bills.

The federally funded LIHEAP program, which began accepting applications last November, was originally set to end March 31, but the commonwealth's efficient management of the program has enabled it to be extended through April 15.

"We have had a difficult winter amidst a difficult economy, and programs like LIHEAP have helped Pennsylvania's most vulnerable households endure both," Gov. Corbett said. "By providing this extension, we will be able to help even more Pennsylvanians provide a basic necessity for their families."

LIHEAP, administered through the Department of Public Welfare, provides cash grants to help low-income households pay for home heating fuel and crisis grants to address heating emergencies such as a furnace failure or unexpected fuel shortages.

Since the cash grant program opened last November, LIHEAP has helped more than 384,000 households pay heating bills. The crisis grant program has provided assistance to more than 88,000 households.

Cash grants are based on household income, family size, type of heating fuel and region. Crisis grants are provided to resolve heating emergencies. In addition to proof of income and household size, applicants must provide a recent bill or a statement from their fuel dealer verifying their customer status and the type of fuel used.

LIHEAP applications are available at county assistance offices, local utility companies and community service agencies, such as Area Agencies on Aging or community action agencies. Applicants can call the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095, Monday through Friday. Individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 1-800-451-5886.

Applications can also be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us.

Residents of the counties listed below should contact the agencies that operate the crisis component in their areas:

* Allegheny - Allegheny County Department of Human Services, 800-851-3838
* Carbon - Carbon County Action Committee, 610-377-6400
* Luzerne - Commission on Economic Opportunity of Luzerne County, 800- 822-0359
* Wyoming - Commission on Economic Opportunity of Wyoming Co., 570-836-4090


To ensure they have the resources to heat their homes the entire winter, LIHEAP consumers are urged to keep their thermostat set at 65 degrees unless they have young children or older adults living in the home.

For more information about LIHEAP, visit www.dpw.state.pa.us.

Media contact: Michael Race, 717-425-7606

Editor's Note: Household sizes and income limits for LIHEAP's 2010-11 season are listed below.

1-person -- $17,328 maximum income

2-person -- $23,312 maximum income

3-person -- $29,296 maximum income

4-person -- $35,280 maximum income

5-person -- $41,264 maximum income

6-person -- $47,248 maximum income

7-person -- $53,232 maximum income

8-person -- $59,216 maximum income

9-person -- $65,200 maximum income

10-person -- $71,184 maximum income

(For each additional person, add $5,984)

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

Monday, March 14, 2011

PathWays PA E-Alert: March 14, 2011

The thoughts and concerns of all of us at PathWaysPA are with those suffering from the devastation in Japan. To find ways to help, please visit this website listing organizations providing aid.

Federal Policy Update

WORKFORCE DAY OF ACTION

Join the National Skills Coalition and thirteen other national organizations in a Workforce Day of Action on Thursday, March 24, 2011.

 
Workforce development programs are an important part of the nation's economic recovery and job creation effort, yet the House Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Appropriations bill (HR 1) zeroes out all funding for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) state and local employment and training programs, a cut of over $3.6 billion for the coming year (beginning this July).

 
Sign up today to participate in the Workforce Day of Action and stand united with NSC and other national workforce organizations on Thursday, March 24 in support of adequate funding for workforce education and training programs.

 
Join NSC for a quick planning call on Monday, March 14 at 2:00 pm ET to prepare for the Workforce Day of Action. Learn how to contact your Members, how to schedule a meeting or invite them to visit your program, and how to talk about the importance of job training in this difficult fiscal climate.

 
Members of Congress will be in their home districts the week of March 24. Call today to schedule a meeting with your Senators and Representative at their in-district offices to let them know where you stand on cuts to workforce training. Let them know that you oppose any cuts, much less the elimination of, funding for workforce development and related programs in this and future appropriations measures.

 
This past year, the WIA system served over 8.4 million jobseekers; helped over 4.3 million get jobs; and placed hundreds of thousands into education and training to prepare them for new careers. Now is not the time to eliminate the nation’s primary system for getting people back to work. Let’s work together to make sure Congress listens.

 
Learn more at www.nationalskillscoalition.org/WorkforceDay.

 
State Policy Update

 
STATE BUDGET UPDATE

 
Governor Corbett unveiled the 2011-2012 state budget last Tuesday.

 
Pennsylvania, like every other state, saw a steep decline in revenue collections in the wake of the recession. While the economy of 2011 is on the mend, with tax revenue running ahead of projections and unemployment continuing to drop each month, collections still have not returned to pre-recession levels.

 
The proposal calls for a 3.1 percent reduction in spending, with 103 line items zeroed out. Notable adjustments include a return to 2008-09 spending levels for basic education funding, and roughly 50% cuts to the State System and State Related higher education lines. Correctional institutions are to receive an 11 percent increase, or $186 million.

 
Among the actions taken to balance the budget, $154 million in Tobacco revenue and programs will be shifted to the General Fund, along with Moving Violation surcharges. According to the Budget Office, the state will wind up with a preliminary ending balance of $5 million at year-end, based on current revenue predictions. The proposal also reinstates the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax phase-out, maintains a variety of tax credit programs, including the Film Tax credits, and addresses tort reform. Various DCED business incentive programs are proposed to be consolidated into a single tool called the Liberty Loan Fund.

 
To learn more about this year’s state budget see information about an upcoming budget briefing below.

 
Information/Events

 
2 OUT OF EVERY 5 WORKERS IN PHILADELPHIA DO NOT HAVE A SINGLE PAID SICK DAY - TELL CITY COUNCIL THAT YOU SUPPORT EARNED SICK TIME!

 
On March 1st, Philadelphia City Council's Committee on Public Health and Human Services unanimously passed a bill supporting earned sick days for all workers in Philadelphia. With this passage, the bill now moves to consideration by the full City Council.

 
Members of City Council are already hearing from people opposed to the bill. If you support earned sick days, they need to hear from you as well!

 
In Philadelphia, two in every five workers have no opportunity to earn paid sick time, meaning they must "choose" between the jobs they need and the families they love. When people have no choice but to work sick, they risk infecting others, especially since the people most likely to be without earned sick days are those that handle our food and those that work with vulnerable populations (like children, the elderly, and the sick).

 
If you support sick time for all workers, please let City Council know.

 
What else can you do?
To learn more about this issue please visit the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplace’s Blog. There you can read worker’s stories, see those who support paid sick days, and read a response to the opposition’s arguments.

"DAY OF RECKONING" STATE BUDGET BRIEFING

 
What will the budget cuts include? How will these cuts affect the services you rely on? What can you do to prevent cuts that will have a long-term negative effect on Pennsylvania's families? Attend the "Day of Reckoning" State Budget Briefing to find out.

 
This briefing, which will feature Sharon Ward from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, will discuss the budget cuts and advocacy steps to address those issues. Please come to learn and to share information as Delaware County prepares for the impact of this budget and how to mitigate it.

 
WHEN: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 10:30 AM
WHERE: 301 North Jackson Street, Media, PA

 
Sponsored by PathWays PA, Family and Community Services of Delaware County, and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition.

RSVP at http://2011delcobudget.eventbrite.com/ or (610) 543-5022 x 255.

 
VOTER REGISTRATION TRAININGS

 
Learn how to register voters and about voting rights for people who are homeless, in recovery, living with disabilities, or ex-offenders

 
WHEN: Wednesday, March 23, 5:30-7:30 pm
WHERE: 1515 Fairmount Ave. Philadelphia PA

 
Snacks will be provided!

 
For more information visit: http://www.voteforhomes.org/.

Please RSVP to Anna Murphey at 215-232-7272 x3106 or annamurphey@projecthome.org.

 
HALF IN TEN’S ONLINE TRAINING: HOW TO USE PERSONAL STORIES FOR ANTIPOVERTY ADVOCACY

 
Half in Ten will host “Stories behind the cuts: practical tips for effective storybanking.” This online training is for advocates across the country interested in using personal stories to put a human face on the budget cuts and impact the policy debate. Click here to register.

 
WHEN: March 14, 2011 - 2:00-3:00 p.m.

 
With vital programs like affordable housing, job training, and home energy assistance under fire, it is more important than ever to show the consequences of deep funding cuts in human terms.

 
Storybanking, or collecting stories from affected individuals, families, congregations, and businesses across the country, has proven to be a useful and effective advocacy tool in past policy debates.

 
Storybanking is especially relevant today as advocates work to demonstrate the impact of irresponsible funding cuts on real people, jobs, and communities in the ongoing deficit reduction debate.

 
Want to do your part to fight back against these reckless, devastating cuts to human needs programs? Join Half in Ten and national storybanking experts for a training on:
  • The fundamentals of storybanking (including do’s, dont's, and practical tips)
  • Best practices for collecting and submitting stories to the Half in Ten-Coalition on Human Needs storybank
  • Tips for leveraging stories with members of Congress and the media
  • Help us elevate stories of programs supporting families and children across the country.


Special PathWays PA Information/Events

PROJECT PEACE FOR TEENAGERS

Do you need help with education, childcare, welfare benefits, parenting or support? We can help!
The Project Peace Teen Parent Program provides one-on-one support for pregnant adolescents and teen parents.

Project Peace services are available at the MacDade Goodwill Store, 2137 MacDade Boulevard, Holmes PA, from Tuesdays from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Services provided will help you:
  • Complete high school and plan for higher education
  • Become a better parent
  • Obtain appropriate community resources, such as childcare, supportive services, Temporary Assistance for Needy Parents (TANF), life skills training and employment
  • Get in home support
For more information call 610-543-5022 or visit http://www.pathwayspa.org/.

PATH$ TO BENEFITS

Last week, PathWays PA, in collaboration with PA CareerLink, officially launched Path$ 2 Benefits, our federally funded financial education and counseling program.

The PathWays PA Path$ 2 Benefits program provides access to counseling and workshops on banking and budgeting assistance, credit and debt management counseling, identity theft repair, financial goal planning, financial crisis management, college planning, housing assistance, and free tax preparation. Clients can also be screened for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and many other services. Even unemployed and dislocated workers can take part in programs that improve their credit without costing money.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Path$ 2 Benefits

Bandit wallet elastic money clipToday, PathWays PA, in collaboration with PA CareerLink, officially launched Path$ 2 Benefits, our federally funded financial education and counseling program. The PathWays PA Path$ 2 Benefits program provides access to counseling and workshops on banking and budgeting assistance, credit and debt management counseling, identity theft repair, financial goal planning, financial crisis management, college planning, housing assistance, and free tax preparation. Clients can also be screened for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and many other services. Even unemployed and dislocated workers can take part in programs that improve their credit without costing money.

If you have an opportunity today you can tune into KYW TV channel 3 at 4:00pm to see their coverage of the event.

Lawmaker Reaction to the Budget

Tipi di virgoletteGovernor Corbett unveiled the 2011-2012 state budget on Tuesday, the first of his new administration. Budget Secretary Charles Zogby outlined the Corbett Administration’s “Day of Reckoning” 2011-2012 budget proposal Tuesday morning, in a closed briefing before the press.

The PBPC says that Pennsylvania, like every other state, saw a steep decline in revenue collections in the wake of the recession. While the economy of 2011 is on the mend, with tax revenue running ahead of projections and unemployment continuing to drop each month, collections still have not returned to pre-recession levels.

According to Sec. Zogby, the proposal calls for a 3.1 percent reduction in spending, with 103 line items zeroed out. Notable adjustments include a return to 2008-09 spending levels for basic education funding, and roughly 50% cuts to the State System and State Related higher education lines. Correctional institutions are to receive an 11 percent increase, or $186 million.

Among the actions taken to balance the budget, Sec. Zogby said $154 million in Tobacco revenue and programs will be shifted to the General Fund, along with Moving Violation surcharges. According to the Budget Office, the state will wind up with a preliminary ending balance of $5 million at year-end, based on current revenue predictions. The proposal also reinstates the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax phase-out, maintains a variety of tax credit programs, including the Film Tax credits, and addresses tort reform. Various DCED business incentive programs are proposed to be consolidated into a single tool called the Liberty Loan Fund.

Initial reaction from the state legislature is mixed with some being surprised about the limited cuts in human services and others concerned with the significant cut to education and higher education. With that in mind, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, some GOP lawmakers are questioning Gov. Corbett’s decision to boost welfare spending and slash higher education aid. On the spending side, a proposed $607 million increase in welfare spending — about equal to the steep cuts in higher education spending — bothers some Republicans, said Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Chester County. “I definitely want us to take a hard look at cutting welfare,” said Rep. Mike Reese, R-Westmoreland. “Does that free up some money for higher ed? I would think so.” In addition, the 2011-12 budget proposal from Governor Corbett does not include a Marcellus Shale tax and some GOP lawmakers they at least want to discuss this option with many Democrats already advocating for a gas severance or extraction tax.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

PathWays PA 4th Annual Art Show


Attendees will be able to view, purchase and bid on original and highly creative work by local artists and support the over 6,000 women, children and families PathWays PA serves each year. 100% of the silent auction proceeds, along with 30% of art sale profits, will benefit the agency.

To purchase tickets, please call 610.543.5022 x234 or online at http://pathways.ticketleap.com/artshow/.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When Families Struggle to Put Food on the Table or Can’t Sleep Because of Unpaid Bills, Path$ 2 Benefits is There to Help

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA CONTACT –
Lyn Kugel, lkugel@pathwayspa.org, 610-543-5022 x211

When Families Struggle to Put Food on the Table or Can’t Sleep Because of Unpaid Bills, Path$ 2 Benefits is There to Help

Path$ 2 Benefits Works with Area Families to Provide Benefits Assistance and Financial Literacy

Come see Path$ 2 Benefits in action at the PA CareerLink
990 Spring Garden
Philadelphia, PA
March 11 at 11:30 AM

Event Includes:
  • Welcome and Path$ 2 Benefits Program Announcement: Carol Goertzel, President and CEO, PathWays PA
  • PA CareerLink Perspective on Path$ 2 Benefits: Jim Nichols or Sue Gutschow, PA CareerLink® Operations Administrators
  • Value Added to the PA CareerLink through Path$ 2 Benefits: Nicki Woods, PA CareerLink® Administrator
  • Path$ 2 Benefits: How it Works: W. Chris Rahemtulla, Lead Financial Educator and Program Coordinator, PathWays PA
  • How Path$ 2 Benefits Helped Me: Client
Philadelphia, PA – For many struggling families, each day brings a new set of impossible challenges:

What is more important to pay money for – food, heating, or rent?
Where can our children go while we are at work?
Can we as parents afford to eat today, or do we need all of the food for our children?
Do we even have food for them?

Path$ 2 Benefits, a PathWays PA program funded through a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, works with families to answer those questions. “By meeting one-on-one with families to assess their needs, we can present new ways to overcome financial challenges,” said Lyn Kugel, Senior Director of Self-Sufficiency Programs at PathWays PA. “During these economic times, Path$ to Benefits can help families by offering specific tools and strategies which build financial literacy and savings. We can assist families in accessing resources and benefits such as SNAP (food stamps). Families who take part in the Path$ 2 Benefits program have a real opportunity to change their lives for the better.”

Kelly Rindone, a Path$ 2 Benefits client, knows what it means to change her life through financial literacy. “Before I came to Path$ 2 Benefits, my credit was damaged because of inaccuracies and out-of-date items on my report. I lost my job and was struggling to pay my bills on a significantly reduced income. But since I went to one-on-one counseling with Chris and participated in financial education workshops with Erin, I now have SNAP (food stamps) to help provide food and have a better handle on my finances, and have even started a savings account.”

The PathWays PA Path$ 2 Benefits program provides access to counseling and workshops on banking and budgeting assistance, credit and debt management counseling, identity theft repair, financial goal planning, financial crisis management, college planning, housing assistance, and free tax preparation. Clients can also be screened for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and many other services. Even unemployed and dislocated workers can take part in programs that improve their credit without costing money.

Please join us on March 11 to see Path$ 2 Benefits in action!

About PathWays PA
PathWays PA, founded in 1978, has a consistently strong record of outreach and service to low income, underserved populations. Throughout its history, PathWays PA has provided low income populations of Southeastern PA with access to benefits, counseling, job training, and asset building strategies. All of PathWays PA's diverse programs and initiatives are designed to aid low income, underserved, and at-risk populations. We are committed to promoting client self-sufficiency which leads to the fulfillment of our mission: to help women, teens, children and families achieve economic independence and family well-being.

About PA CareerLink
PA CareerLink is the commonwealth’s premier, one-stop employment network. With nearly 70 locations statewide, including five in Philadelphia, PA CareerLink is helping make the connection between job seekers and employers across Pennsylvania. At PA CareerLink offices, customers can learn about and apply for jobs, advertise job openings, participate in free workshops to improve their resume or interviewing skills, receive skills assessment testing, learn about and apply for financial aid opportunities and more.

Special Budget Alert from PathWays PA: March 9, 2010

PathWays PA is pleased to bring you budget updates every Wednesday or as needed. Please check back at this Blog for up to the minute updates on the state budget.


STATE BUDGET UPDATE

Yesterday, Governor Corbett announced his budget proposal for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The overall message from the budget address was job creation and no new taxes – including not taxing the gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale.

Currently the deficit for the fiscal year is $4 billion, which includes the loss of federal stimulus funding, increased debt, and pension obligations. The Governor is calling for an overall spending of $27.331 billion, which represents an overall reduction of $866 million from the current budget.

The Governor’s spending plan includes $2.6 billion in cuts by eliminating 103 line items, reducing 154 line items and consolidating 55 line items. The budget proposal reduces general government operation costs by an average of 2.1 percent across the board.

Under the proposal:
  • Adult and Family Literacy will receive $12,413,000 (a cut of $2,474,000)
  • Industry Partnerships will receive 1,613,000 (a cut of $32,000)
  • Children’s Health Insurance will receive $97,365,000 (level funding from the previous year)
  • Community Colleges will receive $212,167,000 (a cut of 2,050,000). The proposal also fails to replace $21.5 million in ARRA funding.
  • The State System of Higher Education and four state-related universities see reductions of 50% or more.
  • Basic Education will see a reduction of nearly $550 million or a 10% cut.
  • Nurse Family Partnerships will receive $11,978,000 in funding (same funding level from the previous year)
  • Pre-K Counts will receive the $83,620,000 (a cut of $1,620,000)
  • Women’s Commission was zeroed out and it will be combined with the Latino Affairs, African-American, and Asian-American Commissions into the Office of Public Liaison which will receive $341,000 (an overall decrease of $437,000)
  • County Assistance Offices will receive $265 million, a 2% reduction.
  • New Directions, the TANF job training and support program, will receive $17 million, about a 50% reduction.
  • Rape crisis, domestic violence, homeless assistance, legal aid and breast cancer screenings were flat-funded at 2010-11 budgetary freeze levels.
  • Child Care Services for working families is flat-funded at $172 million, but the budget does not fully restore stimulus funding, creating a cut of about $14 million in total.
If you would like to see more funding for the above programs and others in the state budget, please contact your members of the General Assembly and urge them to support programs that support Pennsylvanians.

For more detail about other items in the budget, please visit the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center or attend an event listed below.

PHILADELPHIA BUDGET UPDATE

Last week, Mayor Michael Nutter delivered his proposed fiscal year 2012 city budget. His proposal would spend approximately $3.4 billion and includes no new taxes or fees. It would require $2.9 million in reductions and more than $34 million in new spending. The budget does not indicate what will happen if hundreds of millions of dollars of state or federal funding does not materialize.

The City is analyzing the state budget proposal to see what changes will have to be made with potential cuts to basic education, social services, and higher education.


PENNSYLVANIA BUDGET AND POLICY CENTER’S STATE BUDGET BRIEFING

For a detailed analysis of Governor Corbett’s proposed budge for fiscal year 2011-2012, join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's Sharon Ward for one of the events listed below:

PA Budget and Policy Center Budget Conference, Harrisburg
WHEN: Monday, March 14, 9am-3:30pm, Harrisburg
Register today at: www.pennbpc.org

"Day of Reckoning" State Budget Briefing, Philadelphia with Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Sharon Ward
WHEN: Monday, March 21, 9:30 am
WHERE: United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Please RSVP to sepabudget@gmail.com or (215) 563-5848 x16

"Day of Reckoning" State Budget Briefing, Delaware County with Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Sharon Ward
Co-sponsored by PathWays PA, Family & Community Service of Delaware County, and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition
WHEN: Tuesday, March 22, 10:30am
WHERE: Media Borough Community Center, 301 N. Jackson St, Media

Please RSVP by Friday, March 18 by logging on to http://2011delcobudget.eventbrite.com or (610) 543-5022 x 255.


Below Are Some Specific Programs that Need Support:

Please contact your state legislator today and let then know how important these programs are to you and to Pennsylvania:

Adult Education and Family Literacy - Adult education and family literacy program are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to be or become self-sufficient.

Industry Partnerships - are consortiums that allow employers to improve and expand their workforce by bringing together companies committed to the development of their workforce.
  • This program provides workers with access to training that gives them the skills necessary to maintain jobs and obtain employment with sufficient wages so workers can adequately support their families.
  • In Pennsylvania, more than 6,300 businesses are involved with more than 70 Industry Partnerships across the state. More than 70,000 workers have been trained since 2005.
  • On average, those workers have seen their wages rise by 6.62 percent within the first year after receiving the training.

Community CollegesCommunity Colleges are an integral part in the development of middle skills among Pennsylvania workers. At a time when access to good jobs and wages has become more important than ever, Pennsylvania needs to take action to ensure more students can afford and access community college education and the increased earning potential it provides.