Human Services

Third and State This Week: PA Budget Summit, Revenue Update and Pressure on Food Programs

This week, we blogged about our 2012 Pennsylvania Budget Summit, the state's revenue performance in January, programs that serve the poor coming under increasing pressure, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the state budget, Michael Wood wrote that Pennsylvania's revenue performance in January offered some hope with General Fund collections coming in close to estimate, although corporate taxes continue to lag. Chris Lilienthal shared resources from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's 2012 Budget Summit this week and a Fox 43 news report on it.
  • In the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price blogged about news reports on soup kitchens and self sufficiency programs coming under pressure (as well as a new effort to identify the public health impacts of Marcellus Shale development); rising demand for Meals On Wheels in Reading and fines for a Hershey Co. subcontractor; and a look at policies in Europe and here at home that Paul Krugman has dubbed the "Pain Caucus."

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Morning Must Reads: Soup Kitchens & Self Sufficiency Programs Under Pressure & Marcellus Public Health Issues

The Erie Times-News reports this morning that Governor Tom Corbett's decision to implement an asset test for food assistance in Pennsylvania is expected to drive more people to seek help in already overburdened soup kitchens.

In other news this morning, it has fallen to charitable foundations to fund programs to help identify the public health impacts of Marcellus Shale development.

Third and State This Week: Human Services Block Grant, Mortgage Help and Rising Student Loan Debt

This week, we blogged about a proposed state block grant and funding cut for county human services, the end of a mortgage assistance program in Pennsylvania, high student loan debt and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a table from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center explaining the Governor's proposal to combine funding for a variety of county-level human services into a single block grant and cut it by 20%.
  • On housing, Mark Price wrote about how the state's decision to end the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) could harm Pennsylvania's economic recovery.
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price blogged about news stories on the student loan "debt bomb," the rise in homelessness in shale country, extended unemployment benefits and prevailing wage, and why delaying school construction is penny wise but pound foolish.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Morning Must Reads: Unemployment Benefits Extended, Prevailing Wage Change Stalls and Running Government Like a Business

What a difference an election year makes. Last year was full of pointless brinksmanship over federal policy issues that will take several decades to solve. Those battles at times looked like they threatened the near term health of the economy. 

The New Year is shaping up to be very different. The New York Times reports this morning that a deal has been struck to extend the payroll tax reduction and extended unemployment benefits through the end of the year. Tentatively, it looks as if efforts to weaken the unemployment insurance system have been blocked. Both the payroll tax reduction and extended unemployment benefits were set to expire at the end of February, and the failure to extend them was on most economists' lists of things that could weaken the economy in 2012.

Combine and Cut: Governor's Block Grant Plan for County Human Services

A week after Governor Tom Corbett rolled out his state budget, many people are still trying to make sense of it.

Perhaps the biggest reshuffling in the Department of Public Welfare budget involves the expansion of the Human Services Development Fund, a flexible funding stream used for a wide variety of human services at the county level. This fund has been repeatedly reduced over the past few year. The new budget combines and cuts funding for other programs into a single Human Services Development Fund Block Grant.

Morning Must Reads: Homelessness in Shale Country, Higher Education Cuts and the Federal Budget

NPR this morning broadcast a WPSU story about the rise in homelessness in Tioga County. The story provides a nice reminder that increased economic activity is often associated with rising demands on the social safety net.

In case you missed it on Monday, The Philadelphia Inquirer explored the impact of cuts in state funding for higher education.

Third and State This Week: The Governor's Budget, Marcellus Shale and Unemployment

This week, we blogged about the Governor's new budget proposal, the passage of a Marcellus Shale package, private-sector job growth, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • Governor Corbett released his 2012-13 state budget this week. Sharon Ward shared her op-ed on the Governor's budget proposal, and Chris Lilienthal highlighted key points from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's analysis of the budget.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Michael Wood blogged about the Legislature's passage of a shale package, including a drilling fee that has one of the lowest rates in the nation.
  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price compared claims linking private-sector job growth to 2011 state tax and spending policy with a rooster taking credit for the sunrise.
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price shared news reports on how charter schools are putting a drain on school district budgets, what to expect on Budget Day, movement on state legislation that would enable 17,000 Pennsylvania workers to qualify for federally-funded unemployment insurance, and efforts in Washington to weaken extended unemployment benefits.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Morning Must Reads: Hard Times, Unemployment Insurance and Marcellus Arm Twisting

Although the economy is recovering, it is important to remember that unemployment remains high and that means many households are struggling to make ends meet. WITF this morning reports on non-food aid from a Central Pennsylvania charity.

NPR's Morning Edition had a very good story on the national controversy surrounding food assistance. 

Meanwhile, the Allentown Morning Call reports that a bill required to enable 17,000 Pennsylvania workers to qualify for federally-funded unemployment insurance has cleared an important hurdle.

Third and State This Week: $300 Million Lost to Driling Tax Inaction, Asset Testing and Happy 1st Birthday to Us

This week, we blogged about the $300 million in revenue lost to legislative inaction on a natural gas drilling tax, proposed asset testing for food assistance, and the top 10 blog posts of the past year in celebration of Third and State's 1st birthday. Plus: Morning Must Reads and another edition of Price of Service Cuts.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the Marcellus Shale, Chris Lilienthal wrote that legislative inaction on a natural gas drilling tax has cost Pennsylvania $300 million in lost revenue.
  • On the state budget, Michael Wood shared the latest installment in the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's Price of Service Cuts series, with a look at funding cuts to higher education and how that is helping to make college even more unaffordable for many Pennsylvanians.
  • On poverty and public welfare, Mark Price blogged about Corbett administration-proposed asset testing for food assistance with posts here and here.
  • In other Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price wrote about the payroll tax cut and cuts in block grants to local governments; local jobs data and the unemployment debate in Washington; and the value of job training.
  • Finally, Chris Lilienthal shared the top 10 most read blog posts of the past year in honor of Third and State's 1st birthday on February 1.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Morning Must Reads: Asset Test Snark, School Police and Property Taxes

Lancaster Rep. Mike Sturla was quoted in Capitolwire (paywall) on a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) proposal to limit access to SNAP, or food stamp, benefits to households with fewer than $5,500 in assets:

"We're going to take the concept of the safety net and flip it and tell people they have to impoverish themselves before they get the benefits."

This quote caught the eye of the Commonwealth Foundation's Nathan Benefield.

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