Rally against state budget cuts to essential services

June 29, 2010

Mark your calendars.

This Thursday, join the Southeastern Pennnsylvania Budget Coalition to send a message to our state legislators: we need a balanced approach to the budget that preserves essential services and cannot rely on cuts alone. CLS clients will be hurt if services such as home care attendants for people with disabilities, child care centers, schools, literacy programs, and support for kids with autism are cut.

Let your voice be heard:

Thursday, July 1 at Noon

At Philadelphia City Hall Dilworth Plaza (15th Street Side)

For more information, contact Kate Atkins at sepabudget@gmail.com.

CLS urges a balanced approach to dealing with Pennsylvania budget crisis

June 21, 2010

After 50 years of addiction, William Sanders has begun to turn his life around.  In March, Pennsylvania cut his SSI disability benefits by $5 per month.  For some, this cut would be insignificant.  But as he said at a rally in Harrisburg last week, for him it means he’ll be unable to afford necessities like toilet paper.

CLS participated in a day-long legislative push last week organized by Resources for Human Development and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition to tell our legislators that Pennsylvania needs to take a balanced approach in dealing with the budget crisis, that includes common sense revenue enhancements.   William is an example of the real-life people behind the numbers.

An approach to Pennsylvania’s budget crisis that relies solely on cuts to essential services to vulnerable Pennsylvania families that includes many CLS clients is wrongheaded and, over the long run, economically unwise.  Cuts to adults and children with disabilities, people suffering from mental illness, people without homes, and people living in poverty, burdens members of our community and threatens the ability of service organizations to provide for clients in need.

A balanced approach to the budget in this economically challenging time should include:

  • Taxing smokeless tobacco and cigars 
  • Placing a levy on the natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale
  • Closing corporate tax loopholes
  • Modernizing the sales tax to eliminate the sales tax vendor discount

In addition, Pennsylvania legislators ought to anticipate the reduction of federal stimulus funds next year by creating a Stimulus Transition Relief Fund with some of the increased revenue generated by these proposals. This fund will help avert an even bigger budget crisis and larger cuts to essential services in the coming years

In these difficult economic times, it is essential that CLS clients and other vulnerable members of our community do not bear the brunt of closing the budget deficit.

Update: Congress again fails to pass jobs bill

June 19, 2010

The U.S. Senate again failed to pass the jobs bill, which would have extended emergency unemployment, update Medicare payments to doctors, restore elevated federal funding for state Medicaid programs, and a host of other things.

As the previous post shows, without extending UC benefits, Pennsylvania will face the prospect of an additional 100,000 people who are unable to find work and are similarly unable to get any kind of unemployment relief.

As well, the bill would also have maintained increased levels of federal funding for the Medicaid program in Pennsylvania.  Under current law, states and the federal government split the cost of Medicaid.  Since the economic crisis started, the federal government has been taking some of the burden off of states with increased federal spending.  In the next fiscal year alone, Pennsylvania would have benefited by $850 million in additional federal spending on Medicaid.  To lose this money would be devastating for Pennsylvanian families.

100,000 Pennsylvanians due to lose their Unemployment Compensation without Congressional action

June 19, 2010

Congress failed to extend emergency unemployment benefits (EUC) this week, opting to think things over during their upcoming four-day vacation weekend.

The Creating American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, among other things, would extend the EUC program through November 30.  The EUC program is a federally-funded temporary extension of unemployment benefits to those who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits.   The program was originally created in 2008 at the start of the current recession.

EUC allows Pennsylvanians to collect up to 99 weeks of unemployment compensation–only 26 of which are paid for by Pennsylvania.  Without the extension, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) estimates that 325,000 people nationally will lose their benefits this week.

In Pennsylvania, 104,000 people will lose their unemployment benefits by the end of June unless the EUC extender bill is passed.

What does it mean when you lose your unemployment?  For many people, they must try to survive on a frayed and patchwork safety net of food stamps, cash assistance, and whatever other donations or savings they can must.

Are you on unemployment compensation and wondering if you’ll lose your benefits this month?   Click here to figure out when your unemployment compensation will end. Read the rest of this entry »