With a state budget impasse averted, nonprofit services across the state are breathing a sigh of relief.
But advocates still say the budget comes up short in places.
Lisa Schaefer, with the Pennsylvania County Commissioners Association, said passage of a relatively timely budget saved many organizations from another year of cuts and layoffs.
But she says some key funding issues persist. Many areas, particularly human services, remain flat-funded.
And, in many cases, Schaefer said these funding levels have been stagnant for around a decade.
But more importantly, she said, a 10 percent cut to human services in all 67 counties, initially enacted in the 2012/2013 fiscal year, still hasn’t been addressed.
“There are seven key line items that took the 10 percent cut in areas like mental health and intellectual disabilities, drug and alcohol services, other human services programs, homeless assistance, those sorts of things,” Schaefer said.
Gov. Tom Wolf has said in the past he wants to begin a three-year plan to restore that funding, but that didn’t make it into the new budget.
It’s not all bad though.
Schaefer said several amendments to the Human Services Code are being warmly received — in particular, a change to Medicaid access for inmates.
Under previous law, Medicaid benefits were terminated when inmates entered the prison system.
But the new law will merely suspend these services, making them easier to reinitiate post-prison.
That can make former inmates less likely to start a cycle of repeated incarceration, Schaefer said.