Across Pennsylvania, social services providers are searching for political leverage to end a budget impasse in which they are becoming the collateral damage.
Nonprofits in Berks County have floated the idea of inundating lawmakers’ fax machines. A Pittsburgh foundation in August called for liquor stores to be shuttered until a state budget is approved.
Adams County Community Foundation President Barb Ernico has another idea — shun the politicians.
“No more talks to the Chamber of Commerce. No more talks to the Rotary Club. We won’t listen to this. We want you to do your job,” said Ernico.
She envisions a statewide blackout, in which local chambers of commerce and rotary clubs would stop inviting lawmakers and Wolf Cabinet officials to speak.
“The legislators are going around talking to groups about, ‘It’s not my fault … It’s the governor’s fault — he won’t negotiate.’ And the governor is saying the same thing,” Ernico said. “I wonder if we ought to stop giving them the bully pulpit.”
For now, Ernico has her hands full raising money to help Adams County’s domestic violence and homeless shelters.
Her foundation has raised or leveraged more than $220,000 to help facilities that aren’t receiving their state or federal funding due to the budget stalemate.