Stopgap Budget Could Avoid Thanksgiving Pain

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Contact: Gina Diorio, 862-703-6670, [email protected]

Stopgap Budget Could Avoid Thanksgiving Pain Emergency Funding Needed for Vulnerable Pennsylvanians

November 19, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—One week from Thanksgiving, the state budget impasse has forced the Mercer County Area Agency on Aging to cancel its annual Thanksgiving dinner. Bucks County’s only domestic violence shelter is borrowing to keep its doors open. Luzerne County faces a potential shutdown of services county-wide. And statewide, social service agencies face the prospect of winter’s onset absent critical funds.

Lawmakers and Gov. Wolf should approve emergency funding to keep Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents from suffering needlessly over the holidays.

"Gov. Wolf said in October that he would be open to a stopgap budget once a long-term budget agreement was in sight," stated Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. "Last week, Wolf announced that a budget framework was in place. Surely now is the time for the legislature to again pass emergency funding and for the governor to make good on his word."

While Gov. Wolf had hoped the new budget could be completed by Thanksgiving, he now says a December budget is "more realistic." That may be too late for many schools and social service agencies.

In September, Wolf vetoed $11 billion in emergency funding, saying he wanted to "keep the pressure up." As a result, funding for critical services has been sitting in Harrisburg, blocked by Wolf from flowing to schools and service providers.

"To the governor, ‘keeping the pressure up’ may be a political game," Brouillette continued. "But it’s no game to the Mercer County seniors who may not get a Thanksgiving dinner, to the women and children turned away by a domestic violence shelter, or to the many Pennsylvanians who rely on social service programs for food and lodging. Our most vulnerable neighbors are at the point of crisis; it’s time to stop holding them hostage to political posturing and ensure they have the services they need as quickly as possible."

Matthew Brouillette is available for comment. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 to schedule an interview.

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