PA-BGT: Impasse Tightening Its Grip on Services, School Funding

wolf-budget addressWith a budget agreement nowhere in sight, the future looks bleak for many PA school districts and social service providers.

School districts are “begging for more time” on their bills, domestic violence shelters are shutting their doors and pre-Kindergarten programs are ceasing across the state, according to Marc Levy of the Associated Press.

For months, lawmakers have seen the budget impasse as a victimless political exercise, as the state government continues to function unimpeded. Under a 2009 court ruling, state employees can still receive paychecks and prisons, state parks and driver license centers can stay open.

For the rest of the state, however, the effects of the 125-day streak of inaction are real.

At the end of October, a woman staying in a shelter for domestic violence survivors attempted suicide after missing a therapy session, Levy reports. The shelter was forced to end its transportation services in order to save money on gas.

“It’s something that possibly could have been prevented,” Jennifer Snyder, executive director of Domestic Violence Intervention of Lebanon County, told the AP.

Pre-K students at Riverview Children’s Center in Verona signed their teacher’s open letter to state lawmakers after the Center was forced to close with no money.

“We aren’t allowed to play until we solve our problems,” the letter read. “The budget stalemate is a BIG PROBLEM. Are you working on the problem?

Pennsylvania is one of only two states (Illinois is the other) to not pass a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the GOP-led state legislature remain stubborn on their fiscal demands.

School districts are stuck in the middle of the education funding tug-of-war. Schools are desperate for money now in order to operate at full capacity, but support Wolf’s calls to restore massive cuts imposed under Gov. Tom Corbett.

There may be a winner, though, in all of the Harrisburg chaos: the banks loaning hundreds of millions to schools and service providers struggling to stay afloat.

PA schools have taken out over $430 million in loans over the last four months, with Philadelphia schools borrowing at an especially alarming rate, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said last week.

“Nothing against the banks, but I don’t know if our job in Harrisburg is to help the banks win more,” DePasquale said.

3 Responses

  1. I think it is very sad that there has not been a budget passed yet. Congress and the governor should be ashamed of themselves for letting this effect all the services that it is. This services are there cause there is a need for them. It has gone on long enough they should be made to stay at work until this is settled! or they should resign and we can elect people that will get the job done!

    Heather Weikel

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