Three Pennsylvanians who lost their financial assistance are suing the state. Together with a coalition of social services organizations, they claim the bill was rushed through without adequate consideration.
Attorney Michael Froehlich says he knew the cuts were coming, but he and his peers at Community Legal Services had little time to review the actual text of the bill, which eliminated cash assistance to several needy populations.
Without any public hearing, the legislation was introduced and signed by the governor in less than 48 hours.
“I’m quite sure that if legislators could hear of the impact that the elimination of general assistance would have on Pennsylvanians that they would not have done this,” Froehlich said.
General assistance went to support people with disabilities, including those participating in drug- and alcohol-treatment programs.
The funds, approximately $200 a month per recipient, were cut during budget negotiations over the summer. The same bill created controversial block grants, which combine funding for multiple programs, which county officials will decide how to allocate.
A representative of Pennsylvania’s Department of Welfare said the lawsuit is under review and the department isn’t ready to respond.