Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget doesn't discriminate when it comes to Pennsylvania's neediest citizens. It will have an equally devastating effect on the state's elderly, disabled and poor.
The governor wants to cut social services spending by 20 percent -- which in York County means a more than $4.5 million loss of funding for such agencies as the Human Services Department; the Office of Children, Youth and Families; the Area Agency on Aging; York/Adams Mental Health-Mental Retardation; the Drug and Alcohol Program; and Bell Socialization Services.
Perhaps most galling about Corbett's plan is that while he's picking away at the safety net for millions of Pennsylvanians, he also wants to give businesses a $275 million tax break.
It's one thing for the governor to say there's no money for these important programs -- it's something altogether different when he essentially cuts funding for social services to boost the bottom lines of businesses.
A community forum was held this week for various service providers to discuss the effects of Corbett's plan.
"We can't emphasize enough how devastating this is for all of us," said Michelle Hovis, executive director of the Human Services Department. "Write letters, send emails, make phone calls to your (legislators) to help prevent cuts."
The Republican-controlled General Assembly may provide some relief -- the Senate's budget eases the cuts to social services, even though it leaves Corbett's business tax cuts in place.
But the House still needs to weigh in, and then the plan has to pass muster with the governor. And, as we've seen time and again, he's clearly more concerned about business interests in Pennsylvania than the needs of its residents.
Unless enough Republicans in the Legislature stand up to the governor and restore most of the funding, social services agencies around the state will have to find other sources of revenue to care for senior citizens, aid victims of domestic violence or help disabled people find jobs.
Dianna Benaknin, director of the York County Area Agency on Aging, said community partnerships will be increasingly important for her agency.
In fact, it's a plan already being implemented by other nonprofits.
York County Commissioner Steve Chronister helped pair a local business with two struggling nonprofits. York City restaurant La Casa de Tapas will donate 10 percent of its June sales to the YWCA, which was forced to close this week because of a budget deficit. And from July 24 to Aug. 4, the restaurant also will raise money for Family Child Resources, which has depleted its donations.
"We know they're struggling, and we want to help however we can," said Joyce Salazar, owner of the North George Street restaurant. "The general public doesn't understand how hard-hit the nonprofits have been."
If only the governor felt the same way.