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:

Morning Must Reads: Midstate Employment and More Post-Budget Analysis

Jobseekers in Central Pennsylvania might be able to smile, if only for a short while. A new report shows slight uptick in the employment rate in the midstate, with four counties in the area showing increased employment rates.

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.

Third and State This Week: PA Budget, Human Services Block Grant and the Affordable Care Act Is Here to Stay

This week at Third and State, we blogged about details of the 2012-13 state budget, resistance to creating a human services block grant, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act, and much more.


  • On the state budget, Sharon Ward highlighted details of the 2012-13 budget, which sets spending below the budgeted 2008-09 levels, despite four years of recession-driven increases in demand for services. Chris Lilienthal had an initial overview of the budget earlier in the week. Chris also had a blog post about a provision in the draft Fiscal Code bill that would require nonprofit service providers to report on executive salaries and other administrative expenses. And he had a short post linking to an overview of education policy changes that are moving along with the budget.
  • On human services, Chris Lilienthal blogged about Representative Gene DiGirolamo's plan to establish a pilot program for the human services block grant. Sharon Ward followed up with a post looking at efforts by the Corbett administration to turn the pilot program into a Human Services Block Grant Lite.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal wrote about the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act and how important it is for state officials to move forward with implementing it in a consumer friendly way. Intern Alan Bowie had a Morning Must Reads post highlighting news coverage of the decision.
  • In other Morning Must Reads, Alan Bowie blogged about news reports on local unemployment rates and on budget cuts hitting General Assistance, county human services and early childhood education. Intern Jamar Thrasher had a Morning Must Read on hope that kindergarten may be saved from budget cuts in Harrisburg.

Note: We will have more blog posts next week, but we will not have a weekly roundup on Friday, July 6 because of the Fourth of July holiday. We will resume the weekly roundup blog post on Friday, July 13. In the meantime, keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

A Look at School Code Changes

In addition to passing a state budget, the General Assembly is moving legislative changes to the state’s Public School Code and other education-related changes before the end of session. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has an overview of the changes.

Morning Must Reads Part II: Supreme Court Ruling a Victory But More Work to Be Done

Following the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act Thursday, The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a look at the decision, calling it a victory for common sense.

Morning Must Reads: With Help from State, Harrisburg May Save Kindergarten

In May, the Harrisburg School District contemplated what some might have thought unthinkable — eliminating kindergarten to help plug a budget gap. After deep state cuts to education last year and little hope for more funding in the state's next budget, the school board thought it had little choice as it tried to bridge a $6.6 million deficit.

Corbett Administration Wants Human Services Block Grant Lite

There is still no agreement on the Human Services Block Grant, and the details of a proposed pilot program continue to stall progress on the budget. 

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

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Update: We have more on today's Supreme Court ruling at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's web site.

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in a highly anticipated ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts joined Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor in the decision.

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