Morning Must Reads: Where Is the Shared Sacrifice?

When the economy is as weak as it is today, the prudent approach to the state budget is a balanced approach that looks to cut spending and raise additional revenue. A Patriot-News editorial this morning points out that nonprofit groups providing services to victims of domestic violence and rape, as well as people with severe health problems, have been particularly hard hit by the last several years of budget cutting.

The last couple of years, especially 2011, have been tough ones because of state funding cuts, and this year might not be much better. As lawmakers and the governor look at another difficult budget — introduced in February — they need to think hard about what further reductions in funding to charitable groups will mean in communities across the state...

Some of the testimonials in the latest survey [by the United Way] show the grim reality for many people seeking help:

A shelter director said, “For the second year in a row, our shelter has turned away more battered women and their children than we were able to house, due to lack of beds.”

“We are unable to provide health center services as we were before. A nurse is only at the center 16 hours per week vs. 40 hours,” one service stated.

“We’ve had to tell people wanting to get their GED that they had to seek services elsewhere,” a provider said.

“Ms. Smith has ALS and needs a device to be able to communicate in her last days. However, she is on a waiting list to borrow the equipment she needs,” added another.

The Altoona Mirror this morning reports that Blair county officials expect that a new round of budget cuts could further reduce funding for programs that provide mental health services, support for people with autism and child welfare programs.

CCAP Governmental Relations Manager Linda Schaefer advised county leaders to be aware of reduced allocations for state Department of Public Welfare services, specifically mental health, intellectual disabilities, early intervention, behavioral health, autism, child welfare and the Human Services Development Fund.

"Although it is not yet clear how the cuts will impact county funding, the line items of greatest concern to counties will take a significant hit," Schaefer said.

While shelters turn away the needy and counties brace themselves for another round of cuts to critical public health services, we still don't have a drilling tax.

Consol Energy has crafted a 2012 capital budget that calls for investing $1.7 billion in development efforts, up $300 million from last year as the company expands its presence in the region's natural gas fields and increases coal production...

The energy company plans to spend $575 million to develop its assets in the Marcellus Shale gas field, anticipating 122 horizontal wells that include 39 wells in the liquid-rich portions of the play. The company spent $427 million on Marcellus development last year.

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