Human Services

Ending Pennsylvania's General Assistance Was Penny Wise but Pound Foolish

Earlier this week, I was on The War Room with Jennifer Granholm on Current TV to discuss the end of Pennsylvania's General Assistance, a last resort program for very poor Pennsylvanians who cannot work because of an illness or disability and don’t qualify for other assistance. It has provided a ladder up and out of poverty for thousands of Pennsylvanians before that ladder was taken down on Wednesday.

Pennsylvania Shuts Down Its Safety Net of Last Resort

By Liz Schott, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Originally published at the Off the Charts Blog

Pennsylvania ended cash assistance today for very poor residents who cannot work and don’t qualify for other assistance, joining many other states that have scaled back or eliminated their General Assistance programs even as the need has grown.

Morning Must Reads: The End Is Nigh for General Assistance

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes this morning, Pennsylvania's General Assistance program ends today. 

This Week at Third and State: PA Jobs Advantage Slipping, Outsourcing Hurts Low-wage Workers & Food Stamps Facts

This week at Third and State, we blogged about Pennsylvania’s job advantage over other states slipping in the wake of state budget cuts, how outsourcing jobs hits workers in the paycheck, the facts about food stamps, the state budget, and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On jobs and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg shared a new Keystone Research Center analysis finding that Pennsylvania’s strong economic growth coming out of the recession has slipped away in part because of state budget cuts, especially in education.
  • On wages and income inequality, intern Alan Bowie blogged about how the outsourcing of jobs is helping push down the incomes of the lowest-paid workers.
  • On the budget, Chris Lilienthal shared the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s analysis of the recently passed state budget.
  • And in Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted a Philadelphia Daily News piece laying out the facts about food stamps and a story on layoffs at a Philadelphia unemployment call center, which comes at a time when the state is already lagging behind most other states in delivering initial jobless benefits in a timely manner.

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

Failing to Invest in a Stronger Pa. Economy

Despite ending the 2011-12 fiscal year with a $649 million fund balance, Pennsylvania fails to make the investments essential to building a strong economy or to reverse a recent trend where job growth in the commonwealth has lagged behind other states.

So concludes the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center analysis of the enacted 2012-13 state budget, which was released Friday.

Third and State Recap: PA Budget, Human Cost of Ending General Assistance & Wall Street Execs on Honesty

Happy Friday the 13th! Over the past two weeks, we been busy blogging about the enacted state budget, the revenue outlook at the start of the new fiscal year, the human cost of eliminating General Assistance, recent news on the Marcellus Shale front and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the state budget, intern Alan Bowie had this post and intern Jamar Thrasher had this post summing up the post-budget headlines. Michael Wood had an analysis of better-than-expected revenue collections in June, allowing the state to start the new fiscal year with a $400 million fund balance. And Mark Price blogged about the problems with budget austerity.
  • On jobs, Mark Price blogged about a New York Times editorial and research by the Economic Policy Institute on just how much state and local budget cuts have hurt job growth nationally.
  • On poverty and public welfare, Kate Atkins wrote about the human cost of eliminating General Assistance, which will come to an end on August 1 under the new budget.
  • On the financial sector, Mark Price blogged about a recent poll finding one in four Wall Street executives view wrongdoing as a key to success.
  • On the economy, Alan Bowie wrote about an effort to increase the federal minimum wage and the long-term impact of the housing crisis on African Americans.
  • And, on the Marcellus Shale, Jamar Thrasher blogged about legislation that enacted a moratorium on gas drilling in Bucks County and a new report showing how major oil companies use tax loopholes to avoid paying federal taxes. 

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

Morning Must Reads: Elected Officials Are Supposed To Do No Harm

The New York Times has a good editorial this morning based on analysis by Josh Bivens and Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute on just how much state and local budget cuts have hurt job growth. Bottom line, the editorial says, Congress could lower the unemployment rate substantially by providing more federal aid to states.

The Human Cost of Eliminating General Assistance

Since the Great Depression, Pennsylvania has had a General Assistance (GA) program — a small cash benefit that serves as a bridge to self-sufficiency for the temporarily disabled and for victims of domestic violence and addicts seeking help to turn their lives around.

Since the Great Depression. Until this past weekend.

This year’s budget ended Pennsylvania’s modest benefit for 68,000 people, effective August 1. At $205 per month, nobody was getting rich from the program. Here is a sample of who is using General Assistance and why:

Midday Must Reads: The Post-Budget Edition

Just days after Governor Tom Corbett signed the Pennsylvania state budget a few minutes before midnight, the effects are transparent — even if the process was not. To start things off today, the Harrisburg Patriot-News takes a look at the newly passed state budget.

Go to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Website for More Information on the Enacted Pennsylvania Budget

Click here for more details. More content will be added over the next couple of days as we sift through the details.

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