Human Services

Punxsutawney Phil and Governor Corbett

I published a commentary this week on Governor Corbett's 2014-15 budget proposal this week in the Allentown Morning Call. Check it out.

Punxsutawney Phil is predicting more chilly weather ahead, but a winter-weary Gov. Tom Corbett must have spring on his mind. His budget address Tuesday painted a bright and rosy picture of Pennsylvania's future even as we remain in the grip of a long economic winter.

Cut to Federal Food Aid Impacts Families and Children in Every PA County

A major funding cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) took effect November 1, impacting 1.8 million Pennsylvanians.

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger and a powerful tool to help keep families out of poverty. Benefits are modest, offering many Pennsylvania families a crucial bridge in this slow economic recovery.

Public Benefit Programs Encourage Work

A few weeks ago, Sharon Ward explained the many problems with a report from the Cato Institute suggesting it's great to be poor in the United States. Today, Sandy Strauss and Peter Zurflieh, the co-chairs of a coalition working to improve the lives of Pennsylvania's low-income families, have a letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review setting the record straight about the Cato study. They do a nice job of explaining how public benefits encourage low-income people to go to work and keep at it:

Public benefit programs don't discourage work. Both SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid, for example, offer work incentive deductions from earned income to encourage work. In 2011, 86 percent of low-income children receiving Medicaid or CHIP were in working families. More than half of able-bodied adults in households with children receiving SNAP work.

Reports like Cato's unfairly portray low-wage earners and persons living in poverty as lazy and waiting for the next government handout. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Life on Welfare: Cato Gets It Very Wrong

It’s great to be poor. That’s the finding of a Cato Institute report released this week claiming to calculate the value of all public benefits received by the typical welfare household. This methodologically flawed study is another of the bows in the 47% quiver. It is particularly timely — and damaging — given the ongoing debate over federal nutrition assistance, which the U.S.

Separating Fact from Fiction on Nutrition Assistance

Check out this short video separating fact from fiction in the ongoing debate over nutrition assistance for low-income Americans.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) "offers nutritition assistance to millions of eligible low-income Americans," the narrator explains. "The program started in the '70s, and teams of doctors proved that it dramatically reduced hunger in America. Ninety-five percent of federal SNAP funding goes to food."

The video goes on to explain that 40% of households receiving SNAP benefits have at least one working person, and that it is a lifeline to those out-of-work and their families, as they look for a job. Enrollees typically receive benefits for eight to 10 months, and the average benefit equals $1.49 per meal per day. For many people, SNAP benefits do not last through the end of the month.

Third and State This Week: Nutrition Assistance Cuts, Fast Food Worker Strikes, Modest State Revenue Growth & More

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a pending cut and other threats to federal nutrition assistance, what the one-day strikes by fast food workers tell us about the future of the middle class, a post-recession pay cut for the nation's low-wage workers, state revenue growth in the year ahead, and the role of public safety net programs in keeping people out of poverty.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On food insecurity, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a report on the significant impact that a pending cut in nutrition assistance will have on low-income families across Pennsylvania and the nation. He also shared a New York Times report on a new study finding that additional cuts proposed by the U.S. House would cost more than 5 million Americans needed food assistance.
  • On unions and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that the fast food workers engaging in one-day strikes across the country may be on the verge of cracking the code to the next U.S. middle class.
  • On income inequality, intern Ellis Wazeter blogged about a recent study showing that low-wage American workers have taken a post-recession hit to their paychecks.
  • On state taxes, Michael Wood shared a chart showing that General Fund revenue collections are projected to grow very little in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
  • And on poverty, Chris Lilienthal passed on a blog post by Arloc Sherman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlighting just how much public safety net programs have helped keep people out of poverty in the United States.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Nearly 1.8 Million in PA Will See Food Assistance Cut

SNAP helps nearly 1 in 3 U.S. children get enough to eat. All of them will see their benefits cut in November.Nutrition assistance is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger and a powerful tool to help keep families out of poverty. Come November, this critical federal assistance will be cut, making it that much more difficult for 1.8 million Pennsylvanians to put food on the table for themselves and their families.

Morning Must Read: House Plan Would Cost 5 Million Americans Needed Food Assistance

Legislation before the U.S. House would eliminate about 5.1 million people from a federal program that provides nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families, according to a new report by the Health Impact Project, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The House-proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would undermine the ability of low-income households to feed their families and increase poverty, the researchers found.

Lifitng Millions of Americans Out of Poverty

Check out the following Off the Charts blog post from Arloc Sherman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. At a time when the U.S. House is advocating deep cuts to food assistance and other programs that help struggling families stay afloat, it is important to recognize just how much public safety net programs have helped keep people out of poverty in the United States.

Third and State This Week: Upward Mobility, Pittsburgh and Detroit, Revenue Wrap, and Diversion Politics

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new study showing the American Dream of upward mobility is more alive in Pennsylvania than in many parts of the country. We also wrote about 2012-13 revenue collections and a well-oiled effort to distract middle-class families from the real cause of their economic struggle. Plus, a guest post on how Pittsburgh avoided Detroit's fate.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On wages and mobility, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a new study by Harvard and Berkeley economists showing that Pennsylvania enjoys substantially more upward mobility than many other parts of the United States.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood explained some of the key takeaways from General Fund revenue collections in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
  • On nutrition assistance, Stephen Herzenberg responded to the latest salvo in an organized right-wing assault on nutrition assistance and other safety net spending. Steve wrote that the real kitchen table issue facing most Americans is rising income inequality.
  • And on the Marcellus Shale and the economy, guest blogger Tim Stuhldreher shared his thoughts on why Pittsburgh has fared much better than Detroit after taking huge economic hits in the 1980s. Hint: it is not all about shale drilling.

IN OTHER NEWS

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