state budget

Guv sez: Drop Dead, Mayor sez: Keep smilin'

Sub-Headline: Sorry, Can’t Really Sugarcoat This Stuff Folks.

There’s no doubt that Philly’s in a heap of trouble from budgets being torturously made, as we speak, in Washington, Harrisburg and Philadelphia. It seems we’re assured of two years of bad news, first from service cuts, then from tax increases on working people and homeowners. With a little bit of bad luck we could face a mix of both. The moral? We’d better organize ourselves a lot better than we did in 2010 if we don’t want a third and fourth year helping of the same thing. And also, if you pass a corporate exec in the street, keep your hands in your pockets.

Governor Announces Mid-Year Budget Cuts as Revenues Dwindle

Last week, the Rendell Administration identified $161 million in cuts to Pennsylvania's 2009-10 state budget to address a revenue shortfall driven by the severe recession. These funds are actually being placed in budgetary reserve, rather than being cut, but because of the revenue deficit it is unlikely that those funds will be available.

The plan eliminates 33 line items, including state funding for health care facilities, bio-technology research, regional community college services, rural cancer outreach, zoos, and regional history centers. More than 240 other programs, including county child welfare, mental health services, autism intervention, children’s health insurance, and Pre-K Counts, received cuts ranging from 1% to 97%. Funds from the cuts are being put into budgetary reserve, meaning they cannot be spent.

Déjà Vu, All Over Again: How Did We Get Here?

Worried about the Governor's race in 2010? Talk to Joe Hoeffel tonight at PFC Meetup.

More than a few Philly progressives are wondering what's going to happen to Harrisburg politics when Ed Rendell -- disappointment that he may have been -- retires to the broadcasting booth, or the cheese steak franchise, or wherever he and Midge plan to spend their golden years.

Can the Democrats hold the Governor's Mansion? In the wake of the still-ongoing budget fiasco, can Harrisburg become a healthy functioning place of government any time in the near future?

How bad can state politics get if the Republicans win?

One candidate with progressive credentials who's seeking to answer these questions is Montgomery County's former Congressman Joe Hoeffel. He's running for governor, and he's speaking at Philly For Change Meetup, which starts tonight at 7:00 at Tritone, 1508 South Street (wheelchair accessible).

Ask the governor and legislators -why are they letting gas companies give us the shaft

Posting our action alert on natural gas drilling in reaction to the Governor's suggestion that it is off the table during budget negotiations. Please contact him and state legislators!

Multi-billion dollar energy companies have spent $1 million in lobbying money in Pennsylvania this year to try to stop legislators from enacting a severance tax on natural gas extraction. Their money appears to be working, as the state budget negotiations are going forward without a severance tax.

These companies stand to make billions off of our natural resources, and yet Pennsylvania remains the only state with large operations that does not charge a severance tax. These fees can help to cover costs for damaged roads and bridges, contaminated drinking water and other environmental regulations. Instead, the legislature would foist those costs onto Pennsylvania taxpayers rather than force industry to clean up their own mess.

Patrick Murphy on Ending Don't Ask/Don't Tell at Philly For Change Meetup

Wednesday night's Philly For Change Meetup offers a chance to meet, talk to, and show your support for an important leader working on a huge Civil Rights issue as Congressman and Iraq War vet Patrick Murphy stops by to discuss the legislation he's sponsoring to end the nation's bigoted Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy.

State Senator and Appropriations Committee member Larry Farnese explains the biggest local issue of the moment -- the State Budget -- from the inside and answer questions about what we can do the get the best possible State Budget.

That other huge issue -- Health Care Reform -- gets an update from Health Care for America Now's (and YPP's) Marc Stier, who'll discuss Thursday's big event and plot the preservation of the public option and what we can do to help get it to the finish line.

PFC Meetup = Support Marriage Equality + Save PA Budget + Recent Penn Law Grad on Sestak

Harrisburg serves up an especially vexing mix of sweet and sour at tonight's June Philly For Change Meetup, that you won't want to miss.

The Sweet: State Senator Daylin Leach's Legislative Aide Zach Hoover on how we can support his boss's historic/heroic/just plain fair proposed Marriage Equality Bill.

The Sour: The annually-gruesome summer PA budget war is aiming for Armageddon this year, with school budgets, SCHIP funding, and whole state parks on the block. Silver lining: House Appropriations Secretary/Good Guy Josh Shapiro is asking PFC for input.

Reason Not to Miss: Dan U-A graciously agreed to come out and talk about Draft Sestak and make the case for the campaign.

YOU decide who Philly For Change endorses for District Attorney

You have an opinion about the District Attorney's race, no?

You want a chance to express it?

Philly For Change gives you an opportunity Wednesday night at 7:00 at Tritone, 1508 South Street, as we vote on our important endorsement for District Attorney. If you've attended two meetups between April 2008 and March 2009, you're an eligible voter.

All of the Democrats, except Michael Turner who is not seeking endorsements, will be on the ballot.

Economic Stimulus Money Coming to PA and the Role of Foundations

(note: these are my personal reflections, not statements as the development manager at Bread & Roses and are not official stances of the organization.)

I just got back from a briefing where the very entertaining and well spoken Donna Cooper (Rendell's Secretary of Planning and Policy) talked to Delaware Valley Grantmakers about the economic stimulus money coming to Pennsylvania, what it means for Philadelphia and how she recommends that foundations work in partnership with these efforts.

They've launched an initial site that breaks down where the money will be allocated in PA. They are still developing it and looking for feedback on its usability, so I recommend that folks check it out and give them feedback. You can either click for a break down by funding area (for example, all the bridges and highways being built in the state) or click the map to look at your county in particular.

Her key theme in her appeal to the foundation world was: accelerate.

She made the pitch that since people have been pushing this stimulus package through at the federal and state levels with such intensity, the foundation world could really help by stepping up the support and quickly putting money out there for the planning and brainstorming at the local level on how to use the money best (one of her specific examples was supporting a retreat for school district planners to get to have more space and time to really think of how to use some of this one time chunk of money best). In the case of a foundation like Bread & Roses, this might take the shape more of figuring out which groups are best poised to hold those planners and decision-makers accountable has they spend the stimulus money out.

Though she gave some tangible examples in her talk, I'm still left with a lot of questions. Like what about (other) local foundations, particularly those with endowments who are supposed to still be offering grants at the same level (because it should be based on a 5 year average of their investments, not the current value) but are pulling back on the funding they are offering this year? What other kinds of useful roles can foundations play in partnering with this government initiative? How can we encourage larger foundations with more resources to not pull back but actually give more at this critical moment? To accelerate? Question questions.

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