Morning Must Reads: Wasteful Asset Tests, Unsafe Schools and an Entire School District Headed for a Shutdown

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an editorial this morning questioning the wisdom of the Corbett administration's move to limit access to food stamps for poor families.

The Inquirer reported earlier this week that the state would reinstate an "assets test" for Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps beginning in May.

This means that anyone under age 60 with more than $2,000 in the bank ($3,250 for those over 60) will no longer be eligible for food stamps. Houses, retirement benefits and a single vehicle are not counted. The $2,000 threshold, a minimum set by the USDA, hasn't changed since 1980.

Some have pointed out that the change will cost the state more money to address a problem that doesn't exist. Federal statistics show that Pennsylvania has a food stamp fraud rate of 0.1% — one of the lowest rates in the nation.

Instead of encouraging the working poor to save, Pennsylvania welfare officials want to punish families for having a few dollars in a bank account...

The rule change could affect as many as 464,000 Philadelphians currently eligible for food stamps, according to city Controller Alan Butkovitz. Almost 30 percent of city residents rely on food stamps for basic survival. Businesses and grocery stores that depend on purchases by food stamp recipients could be hurt, too.

The Associated Press reports the Corbett administration is signaling the level of the asset tests are not set in stone.

So what does it mean to say that austerity economics reduces the quality of public services? For kids in Philadelphia, it means making schools less safe.

Laying off 47 Philadelphia School District nurses has caused children to suffer and is endangering their health, a group of nurses said Wednesday.

One diabetic student had to transfer from her school because it had no full-time nurse, they said. At another school, they added, the principal erroneously administered a medication without doctor's orders.

The Chester Upland School District in Delaware County is headed for a shutdown.

The district is $20 million in debt. In recent years, it lost almost half of its students — and the funding that goes with them — to charters, and has suffered heavily from cuts in state funding. District officials say those two factors have left the school system insolvent.

More on Chester Upland from The Washington Post.


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