Young Philly Politics - Poverty en Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind <p><strong>By Michael Wood, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>Federal health care reform is moving forward thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year — and it is a <a href=";id=3801" target="_blank">great deal</a> for Pennsylvania. Unless the state decides to “opt out,” Medicaid coverage will be expanded to include many Pennsylvanians who are uninsured.</p> <p>One group that will benefit immediately are parents with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level ($25,390 for a family of three). The benefits don’t end there: others who don’t receive health coverage through their work will be able to buy insurance on a competitive health marketplace or exchange — making coverage more affordable.</p> <p>However, if Governor Corbett prevents the Medicaid expansion, it will create a coverage gap for families between 46% and 100% of poverty, as the chart below shows (click on it for a larger view).</p> <p><a title="Click to enlarge" href=""><img src="" /></a></p> <p>Those families&nbsp;between 46% and 100% of poverty&nbsp;earn too much to qualify for Medicaid (for a family of three, this means earning over $8,781 but less than the federal poverty line of $19,090). <strong>These families won’t receive Medicaid coverage, and they won’t receive subsidies to buy health coverage.</strong></p> <p>We all benefit when more people have health coverage. Let’s make the right decision in Pennsylvania and expand Medicaid coverage.</p> Affordable Care Act health care Low-income Families Medicaid Pennsylvania Poverty Tue, 15 Jan 2013 14:57:05 +0000 8563 at Pa. Budget: Failing to Invest in a Stronger State Economy <p><strong>By Chris Lilienthal, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>Despite ending the 2011-12 fiscal year with a $649 million fund balance, Pennsylvania fails to make the investments essential to building a strong economy or to reverse a recent trend where job growth in the commonwealth has lagged behind other states.</p> <p>So concludes the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center <a href="">analysis</a> of the enacted 2012-13 state budget, which was released Friday.</p> <p>In the final budget, the General Assembly restores some of the cuts proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, while leaving intact a 10% cut to human services and deep cuts to public schools and higher education made in 2011. The budget continues to shift costs to local governments and taxpayers, while adding new tax breaks for businesses.</p> <p>The spending plan, at $27.656 billion, is $517 million more than the Governor’s February proposal but remains below budgeted 2008-09 levels, despite four years of recession-driven increases in demand for services. The largest cut in this budget comes from the elimination of the General Assistance Program, which provides a temporary monthly benefit to 68,887 Pennsylvanians who are sick, disabled or escaping an abuser. It ends next month</p> <p>Cuts to education enacted last year, meanwhile, have diminished the quality of instruction in our poorest school districts and resulted in the loss of 14,000 jobs in 2011.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Corporate Tax Breaks economy Education Higher Education Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare State Budgets Wed, 18 Jul 2012 14:36:52 +0000 8515 at PA Starts New Fiscal Year with $400 Million in the Bank <p><strong>By Michael Wood, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>After a less than stellar May, General Fund tax collections bounced back strongly in June — exceeding estimate by $170 million, or 6.5%. This narrowed the 2011-12 revenue shortfall to $163 million, or less than 1% of total estimated collections for the year.</p> <p>As a result, the state ended the year in a much better fiscal situation than projected back in February, when Governor Tom Corbett released his budget plan. Counting the dollars the state had in the bank, Pennsylvania actually started the fiscal year with a $400 million fund balance.</p> <p>The recently enacted budget acknowledged this but only to a point. The Legislature increased General Fund spending in 2012-13 by $655 million from the Governor’s &nbsp;proposal&nbsp;—&nbsp;restoring funding in a number of important areas: higher education, accountability block grants, and half of the 20% cut proposed for county services included in the now-rejected&nbsp;Human Services Development Block Grant. Lawmakers also found funding for another round of business tax breaks.</p> <p>However, June collections indicate more could have been done&nbsp;—&nbsp;for General Assistance recipients, environmental programs, and child care. Lawmakers also passed on setting aside any of the additional revenue in the Rainy Day Fund.</p> <p><a href="">Click here</a>&nbsp;for the Tale of the Tape.</p> <p>The revenue surplus in June was led by corporate tax collections&nbsp;—&nbsp;coming in $180 million higher than the monthly target, or 38%. After falling short of estimates for seven of the first eight months of the fiscal year, corporate taxes ended June with a small surplus of $39 million, or 0.8%.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Corporate Tax Breaks Education Higher Education Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare State Budgets Tue, 10 Jul 2012 20:13:02 +0000 8511 at The Human Cost of Eliminating General Assistance in Pennsylvania <p><strong>By Kate Atkins, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>Since the Great Depression, Pennsylvania has had a General Assistance (GA) program — a small cash benefit that serves as a bridge to self-sufficiency for the temporarily disabled and for victims of domestic violence and addicts seeking help to turn their lives around.</p> <p>Since the Great Depression. Until late last month when state lawmakers adopted a new budget.</p> <p>That budget will end Pennsylvania’s modest benefit for 68,000 people, effective August 1. At $205 per month, nobody was getting rich from the program. Here is a sample of who is using General Assistance and why:</p> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">disabled military veteran </a>in Lancaster County, who applied for General Assistance to get him through until his Social Security disability benefits were approved.</p> <p>A <a href=",0,7327470.story" target="_blank">waitress</a> in her 50s who was diagnosed with breast cancer and used General Assistance when she could not work as she was receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatment. After about nine months, she was able to return to work.</p> <p>Good Samaritans who are caring for children not related to them — perhaps children of a close friend of neighbor. Many of these children are now likely to end up in the foster care system.</p> <p>A very focused group of young women I saw at a recent rally in Delaware County, who chanted:&nbsp;“Pennsylvania, we need GA. We’re in treatment, we need to stay!”</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> General Assistance Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare State Budgets Mon, 09 Jul 2012 20:36:38 +0000 8510 at "Winners for the Losing Team:" An Inspiring Speech At Penn by Geoffrey Canada <p>Over the years, some great speeches have been given at the University of Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate long ago, I was responsible for bringing Robert F. Kennedy and Jackie Robinson to Penn. (An invitation I sent to Martin Luther King, Jr. shortly before his tragic death led to his gracious telegram of regrets). And I remember being thrilled with optimism after hearing labor leader Walter Reuther address students at the Wharton School. Much more recently, I attended enthusiastic speeches by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton there.</p> <p>But perhaps the greatest of all Penn speeches, from my perspective at least, was one I did not attend: Geoffrey Canada's address to the University of Pennsylvania graduating class of 2012, reported in great detail by Maarvi Singh, of Penn's Class of 2013, in the July/August Pennsylvania Gazette, Penn's high quality alumni magazine. See <a href="" title=""></a>. The text of the speech can be found in The Pennsylvania Almanac at <a href="" title=""></a> . A You Tube tape of the speech (with better sound quality than the one posted on the You Tube site itself) can be found at <a href="" title=""></a> .</p> <p>Geoffrey Canada was one of seven recipients of honorary degrees in May, and his speech stole the show, relegating even a thoughtful sppech by Penn President Amy Gutmann calling for more societal collaboration and describing current graduating students as the "collaboration generation" to the sidelines.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Amy Gutmann Child Poverty Geoffrey Canada Inspirational Rhetoric Maarvi Singh Poverty Safety Net Sun, 08 Jul 2012 03:30:36 +0000 RepMarkBCohen 8509 at Piecing Together the PA Budget Framework <p><strong>By Chris Lilienthal, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>Some details emerged Thursday about the state budget framework unveiled midweek by Governor Tom Corbett and legislative leaders, but questions still remain. More details may be available later today when budget spreadsheets are released.</p> <p>Funding for county human services is one area that appears to be in flux, as some House Republicans continue to voice concerns about a plan to block grant and cut that funding.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Robert Swift, <em>Scranton Times-Tribune</em> — <a href="" target="_blank">State budget spending agreement launches other negotiations</a>:</li> </ul> <blockquote><p>A number of GOP House lawmakers want to add more dollars for the mental health and mental disability programs in that mix, said [Rep. Mario] Scavello.<br /><br />A Senate-approved bill restores half of the $168 million spending cut for the human services programs initially proposed by Mr. Corbett. House members would like to restore even more money but have to balance that with cuts elsewhere, he added.<br /><br />Although the statewide association representing county commissioners recently agreed to a two-year phase-in for the block grant, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-18, Bensalem, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, said he's trying to stop the block grant altogether and substitute a pilot program for several counties instead ...<br /><br />The seven programs considered for a block grant include community mental health and mental disability services, the human services development fund, homeless assistance, child welfare grants, the Behavorial Health Services Initiative and Act 152 drug and alcohol treatment programs.</p> </blockquote><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Education Higher Education Human Services Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare State Budgets Tom Corbett Fri, 22 Jun 2012 21:27:02 +0000 8502 at Predatory Payday Lending Bill Flies Out of Cramped PA House Committee <p><img style="float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" src="" alt="" width="150" /></p> <p><strong>By Mark Price, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>Room 148 of the State Capitol might as well double as a Capitol broom closet. That's where the <a href=";body=H" target="_blank">House Consumer Affairs Committee</a>&nbsp;this morning rushed out amendments to <a href=";sind=0&amp;body=H&amp;type=B&amp;BN=2191" target="_blank">House Bill 2191</a>, which legalizes predatory payday lending in Pennsylvania.<br /><br />The amendments to HB 2191 were misleadingly pitched as adding more consumer protections to the bill. Even the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society <a href="" target="_blank">took a look</a>&nbsp;at these amendments and said they do "nothing to mitigate the already harmful aspects of HB 2191," and that one amendment "actually worsens the problem it claims to solve."</p> <p>One focus of the amendments this morning was language banning renewals or rollovers of a payday loan, as if that was a solution to stopping the long-term cycle of debt. It is not.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> banks economy Income Inequality jobs Payday Loans Pennsylvania Poverty predatory lending Wed, 09 May 2012 21:55:09 +0000 8389 at The Future of Health and Human Services in PA <p>Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, was on WITF's Radio Smart Talk this week to discuss the state of health and human services in Pennsylvania. She squared off with Matt Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation.</p> <p>She explained that it was important for the commonwealth to spend taxpayer money wisely, but that current policies were resulting in eligible Pennsylvanians, including thousands of children, losing their health care.</p> <p>Rather than taking away health care from children or jeopardizing the nursing care of seniors, state policymakers should look at alternatives, including closing tax loopholes and ending corporate welfare.</p> <p>You can listen to the show at <a href="" target="_blank">WITF's web site</a>. Let us know what you think in the comments section.</p> health care Human Services Pennsylvania Poverty Public Welfare Thu, 15 Mar 2012 15:01:03 +0000 pennbpc 8347 at Abandoning Pennsylvanians <p>Governor Tom Corbett unveiled a 2012-13 state budget Tuesday that abandons middle-class Pennsylvanians and our most vulnerable citizens.</p> <p>The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has a <a href="" target="_blank">full analysis</a> of the Governor's proposal. Here's the quick version.</p> <p>With this budget, the Governor continues to turn his back on middle-class families who rely on good schools and affordable college tuition.</p> <p>Help for the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians is reduced or eliminated. Tens of thousands of families and children have already seen health and other services terminated. This approach is not about finding efficiencies or cutting waste but rather cutting off help to people who have been hit hardest by the recession.</p> <p>And while there is a call for greater accountability for every dollar in spending, businesses are let off the hook based on claims that they will create jobs in exchange for tax cuts that now total more than $1 billion.</p> <p>This is not the path to a stronger economy or a better Pennsylvania.</p> <p>We'll have more to say in the weeks ahead. For now, you can learn more by reading <a href="" target="_blank">our analysis</a>.</p> Education Higher Education middle class Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare Taxes Tom Corbett Wed, 08 Feb 2012 23:32:44 +0000 pennbpc 8317 at Must Reads: State of The Union, Stimulus and Austerity Economics PA Style <p><em>A blog post by Mark Price, originally published at <a href="">Third and State</a>.</em></p> <p>Tonight President Obama will deliver his State of the Union Address to Congress. We are expecting the President to recommend an extension through the end of 2012 of extended unemployment insurance benefits and the payroll tax credit. It looks as though a major theme in the address — besides the catch phrase “built to last” — will be conventional policies aimed at reducing inequality, such as increased spending/tax credits for education and training.</p> <p>Education and training are important and fruitful means of reducing inequality, but they fall well short of what's needed to reduce the degree of inequality we now face.&nbsp; A more forceful step in the direction of reducing inequality would include raising the minimum wage and making it easier for workers to form and join unions. We don't expect to hear the President call for either of those changes.</p> <p>The President will propose paying for his new initiatives with higher taxes on wealthy households. As with education and training, restoring some sense of fairness to the tax code is a laudable goal but longer-lasting reductions in inequality will only come from policies that allow the pre-tax wages of more Americans to rise as the size and wealth of our economy grows.</p> <ul> <li>Tracie Mauriello, <em>Pittsburgh Post-Gazette</em> — <a href="" target="_blank">Obama to target economy in State of the Union address tonight</a>:</li> </ul> <blockquote><p>Manufacturing, energy, job training and middle-class growth will be the cornerstones of President Barack Obama's speech tonight as he takes to the nation's grandest political stage for the annual address on the state of the union, according to senior advisers.</p> </blockquote><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Construction economy Education Federal Budget Fiscal Policy jobs Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Property Taxes Public Welfare recession state of the union Taxes Unemployment Tue, 24 Jan 2012 15:13:58 +0000 8301 at