State Rep. Pam DeLissio talked to constituents on Friday morning about the impact that the Pennsylvania legislature’s budget impasse is having on human service agencies, especially in the 194th district — her district.
On June 30, the Republican majority of the state’s legislature passed a $30.1 billion budget. While the budget did increase funds for Pennsylvania public schools, it did not include a raise in taxes — a key component in Governor TomWolf’s budget, which proposes raising the state’s 6 percent sales tax to 6.6 percent and the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent.
Wolf vetoed the budget just hours before the July 1 budget. After nearly two weeks of budget gridlock, local state services are beginning to feel the effect, according to DeLissio. Sate employees will continue to be paid during the impasse, the government is not able to send funds to local governments or nonprofit organizations.
DeLissio, who has previously been at the head of two nonprofit organizations, expressed how pertinent the issue is to her office and to the many organizations in the 194th district who provide human services.
“We need to highlight how a delayed state budget will impact human services organizations and put pressure on the leaders in the House and the Senate to continue in earnest and good faith to reach negotiations with Governor Wolf,” DeLissio said.
Present at the meeting were nearly a dozen representatives of various nonprofit organizations in the community.
They stressed how important the funding they received from the state was in providing programs and services to the thousands of individuals and families their organizations serve daily. Many of the groups have a line of credit to fall back on in emergency situations but won’t be reimbursed on the interest paid while using that line of credit.
Steveanna Wynn, executive director of the SHARE Food Program, Inc., which provides food for 250,000 families in the Philadelphia area spoke of the fears raised by the budget impasse.
“The worst possibility of all would be that there would be no food, and that staff would be laid off,” Wynn said. “What everyone needs to remember is that the budget impasse impacts our most vulnerable citizens that can least afford not having food.”
DeLissio said she does not feel the legislature has been working in earnest or in good faith to come to a compromise regarding the budget.
“It is absolutely instrumental for us to get back to work,” she said. “It just makes you feel powerless. The goal of this meeting was to highlight the impact, but let’s try to also get the word out there and to generate some power.”
She added they have been called back into session on July 21 and 22.