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State

Thank you. Your advocacy made all the difference this year.

Pennsylvania’s 2022/23 General Fund budget is finally in the books, having been enacted one week after the official June 30 deadline. The $45.2 billion spending plan represents a 2.9% increase in state spending over the previous fiscal year. The wide-ranging budget, made possible by higher-than-expected revenues that led to a multibillion-dollar surplus, includes some extra funding for human services providers who assist individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families as well as more money for mental health services.

Despite record surpluses, the administration and lawmakers still negotiated a spending plan that keeps many other broader budget initiatives flat-lined. Although some of our line-item increases were less than requested, and even though direct payments for workforce issues are limited, the funding boosts we did receive will help human service providers that have faced chronic underfunding for years.

This much is clear: none of the modest success we achieved would have been possible without you.

Over the last five months, you helped our coalition deliver 8,296 messages directly to members of the General Assembly and the administration, plus another 706 social media hits tagging representatives and senators. Your engagement was evident from the start, as our social media platforms exploded and continue to grow. All of this is on top of the phone calls you made to legislative offices, the letters you wrote to your local papers, and the events you attended in your community and even at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg.

The people we serve, their families, and their providers of care were seen and heard.

Lawmakers are more informed than ever. They know who we are, and they are coming to understand our issues and appreciate how important they are to our communities. That education process will continue because our advocacy doesn’t end when the budget bill is signed. It’s a sustained effort that we undertake each and every day on behalf of those who rely on us — individuals with disabilities and mental health needs and their families.

You can view the specifics related to our budget priorities here. And make no mistake about it. This small success is a sign of bigger things to come.

Thank you for all you did, for all you continue to do, and for your continued support and engagement. Your support made the difference.

Capitolwire: New Year Dawns Without Budget in Place

By: John Finnerty, Capitolwire.com Bureau Chief

HARRISBURG (July 1) – The new fiscal year started this morning without a state budget in place to pay for it and no obvious signal that the Legislature will quickly get a budget to the governor.

Late Thursday, Senate officials announced that the chamber won’t even be in session on Friday, though the Senate has plans to be in session on Saturday and Sunday. The House is scheduled to be in session Friday and Saturday, though at the close of Thursday’s session, Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, reminded members to monitor their emails for updates on session days.

Despite the annoying aggravation of having to work through the holiday weekend, the broader immediate sting of failing to meet the state budget deadline doesn’t exist anymore due to a 2009 Supreme Court decision requiring that state employees must continue to receive their paychecks even if the budget hasn’t been passed.

Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York, the Majority chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that not having a budget in place has little, if any, immediate impact on state agencies.

Gov. Tom Wolf has been pushing for a dramatic increase in spending while Republicans have been trying to get the governor to agree to rollback controversial proposals including the bridge tolling plan (though a Commonwealth Court ruling Thursday ordered that the tolling plan be halted) and charter school regulations.

Alexis Campbell, a PennDOT spokeswoman, said that while the tolling plan has been met with objections, the administration is still waiting for lawmakers to explain how to pay for the needed bridge repairs and in the long-term replace the gas tax.

“To date, the legislature has failed to offer any solutions beyond their approval of this P3 initiative, that will assist the administration’s desire to phase out the gas tax. The Wolf Administration continues to welcome discussions with the General Assembly on alternative funding sources that can replace the gas tax, which is no longer a dependable source of funding to meet all bridge and highway needs in this commonwealth,” she said.

Republicans say they are interested in restraining Wolf’s spending proposals in order to position the state to better weather an economic slowdown.

“Senate Republicans continue to work towards a budget that invests in the people of Pennsylvania and ensures the financial stability of the Commonwealth as we face economic headwinds due to the Biden Administration’s inflationary policies,” Erica Clayton Wright, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said in a statement released late Thursday night.

Amidst all of this, former President Donald Trump weighed in earlier this week, issuing a statement in support of a poll watcher bill sponsored by Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, and calling for Republicans to refuse to pass a budget unless it includes other election integrity changes.

Groups lobbying for election access have called for Wolf to veto Mastriano’s Senate Bill 573, and a Wolf spokeswoman strongly hinted that Wolf would veto the legislation, saying the administration “strongly opposes” the bill.

(Source: Capitolwire, July 1, 2022).

Only a few days remain before the end of the fiscal year, and lawmakers are close to finalizing the state’s 2022/23 General Fund budget. Because of your direct outreach over the last few months, our workforce issues remain among their top priorities.

According to reporting by The Associated Press: … difficulty in finding workers to care for children, the elderly and disabled has budget-makers eyeing more subsidies for those professions.”

You have been tireless advocates for this issue, making lawmakers understand how this workforce crisis is affecting our most vulnerable individuals and families, as well as the providers and professionals who serve them. Let us build on this momentum.

With budget negotiations about to end, if you haven’t done so already, please contact your state senator and representative TODAY and tell them to increase funding to support human services professionals. And please ask your networks to do the same.

Time is of the essence right now. What happens over the next few days will determine the level of care individuals and families in need receive over the next year, and whether providers and professionals can continue to support them.

USE THIS LINK to learn how you can help. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed of our progress. Most importantly, TAKE ACTION TODAY. Tell lawmakers to increase funding to address the workforce crisis facing Pennsylvania’s health and human services. Thank you for your continued efforts and support.

Our legislators are now determining whether to invest in DSP wages or place funds in the Rainy Day fund. Tell lawmakers to increase #DirectCarePA funding in the #PaBudget!

If you haven’t done so already, please reach out and urge lawmakers to increase funding to support human services professionals, so individuals and families in need get the support and care they deserve. Ask your networks to do the same.

Be sure to share our video on your social media pages, too. To share the video, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages where we have the videos posted. Be sure to “like” it and share it with your followers. Don’t forget to tag @directcareworks and use the #DirectCarePA and #PABudget hashtags so we can ensure as many people as possible see it.

It’s so important for us to share the story about how this workforce crisis is affecting individuals and families in need, as well as the providers and professionals who want to serve them.

Most importantly, TAKE ACTION TODAY. Tell lawmakers to increase funding to address the workforce crisis facing Pennsylvania’s health and human services. Thank you for your continued support.

Lawmakers return to Harrisburg to begin the monthlong process of crafting and passing a final state spending plan for the 2022/23 fiscal year. The next few weeks are crucial.

Lawmakers need to hear from you right now! Contact your state senator and representative and tell them to increase funding to support human services professionals, so individuals and families in need get the assistance and care they deserve.

Pennsylvania has billions of state dollars in surplus, plus additional federal money, but it remains unspent as the needs of our most vulnerable residents go unmet.

Over the past few months, our coalition has sent more than 6,000 messages to the General Assembly and administration. We aired TV commercials and shared our message on social media. We rallied at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg. We have been seen and heard.

But all that matters now is what happens during these next few weeks as the budget is finalized. There is no slowing down now. Use this link to learn how you can help and urge your networks to do the same. Most importantly, if you haven’t already, take action today.

This workforce crisis is affecting our most vulnerable individuals and families, as well as the providers and professionals who serve them. Lawmakers have a big role to play in solving this problem. But they need to hear from you. Thank you for your continued support; now, let’s finish strong!