LETTER: State budget stalemate — where's the statesmanship?
The state budget impasse, about to reach its 90th day, is threatening the well-being of local communities by prohibiting state departments from distributing much-needed federal pass-through dollars to human service organizations.
Across this state, thousands of Pennsylvanians are doing their best to rise up out of poverty and become self-sufficient. Many sometimes need a helping hand to do this — they need to secure safe, affordable housing; dependable childcare; emergency assistance with utility payments; GEDs, literacy and employment training. These services are provided at the local level by community action agencies. In York County, that agency is Community Progress Council.
We see examples of our community impact every day. Our services help families and individuals bridge the gap from crisis to self-sufficiency through programs including WIC, Early Head Start and Head Start of York County, Rental Assistance, Work Ready, case management and many others.
Because of the budget impasse, we and many agencies statewide are having to spend valuable time trying to secure funds, reassure staff and educate the public as to possible service interruptions instead of what we should be doing — helping people to help themselves.
We know that eventually, once the budget passes, we will receive our funding. In the meantime, we will have paid thousands of dollars in interest on lines of credit we have had to take out just to keep our doors open.
While the commonwealth is accruing interest on money they are receiving but not distributing, our agencies are paying interest on borrowed dollars because we are not being paid. And this interest cannot be repaid out of federal or state funds. The only way we can pay the interest is through fundraising — which is a shame, because scarce donor dollars should go to creating new services, not paying interest on loans we shouldn't have had to take out in the first place.
We urge the governor and General Assembly leaders to exert the statesmanship we expect of our leaders and pass a state budget.
President and CEO
Community Progress Council