Social service providers may feel PA budget pinch

    Social Service Providers in Pennsylvania are bracing for tough times under Governor Rendell’s proposed budget.

    Social Service Providers in Pennsylvania are bracing for tough times under Governor Rendell’s proposed budget.

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    The State Welfare Department won’t technically see its funding reduced under the proposed budget, and is actually slated for a small increase. But the state’s elderly, poor, or mentally ill could still see reduced services, because need has increased with the recession. Welfare Department spokeswoman Stacy Witalec says in tough financial times, it comes down to doing more with less:

    Witalec: The budget the governor proposed tries to weigh and balance the increased demand that we see for benefit assistance, along with the need to really make sure that we are running as efficiently and as effectively as we possibly can for those families that we need to support each day.

    But Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center says there just isn’t enough money to go around:

    Ward:
    People should understand that this budget makes serious cuts and will make life more difficult for a number of people including the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

    Philadelphia agencies with state contracts that serve people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, or addiction say they are still hurting from last year’s budget impasse and funding cuts and trying to meet increased demand.

    Tim Wilson is director of the Philadelphia Alliance a professional society for social service providers – he says the proposed budget doesn’t keep up with costs:

    Wilson: For several years providers have been incurring increased cost, I mean, everybody who runs even a tiny little business knows that lots of things go up, and, there are increases in funding, but often it’s for new services, or for serving new people.

    The proposed budget must be approved by the legislature, and is slated to take effect on July 1st.

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