from the inbox:
Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, the Democratic candidates for Montgomery County commissioner, today sharply criticized the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives for passing a budget “that will negatively impact Montgomery County’s budget situation, but more importantly place the county’s most vulnerable residents in greater jeopardy.” At the same time, they urged their Republican opponents – Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown – to join them in opposing the budget. Shapiro, a Democratic state representative, fought doggedly against the budget bill, and voted against its passage.
The following is a joint statement issued by the Democratic team:
“The $27.3 billion budget passed today by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is an extreme budget that will negatively impact Montgomery County’s budget situation, but, more importantly, place the county’s most vulnerable residents in greater jeopardy. And, it does all this while excusing gas drilling companies from paying their fair share.
“We call upon our opponents – Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown – to join us in this fight by using whatever influence they may have with their GOP colleagues in the legislature to restore this critically needed funding. Regardless of political ideology, we should all be able to agree that a budget that hurts Montgomery County is not a budget worth supporting.
“These draconian cuts, proposed despite significantly increased state revenues, will cut $1.9 million from our community college’s state allocation, and put higher education out of reach of more of our young people.
“The cuts will also impact a wide range of human services, job development and veterans’ services. In just one Montgomery County example, cuts to the Behavioral Health Services Initiative will result in the loss of a thousand halfway house days for county residents seeking drug and alcohol services, and the loss of those services will place additional strain on law enforcement, prisons and healthcare budgets. This scenario will repeat itself in services to children and youth, mental health services, the elderly and the homeless.
“The county budget will be under increased stress, if the county is forced to provide some of the services that the state is neglecting. Nevertheless, we remain committed to not raising county taxes. The bottom line will always be our focus, and we will find creative ways and solutions to do more with less.
“In the end, this is a very bad budget for Montgomery County and its residents. Whether you are a Montgomery County Republican or Democrat, this should concern you, and that is why we are asking our opponents to join with us in trying to fight against this budget.”
According to the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, which vigorously opposes the budget, here are just a few of the significant cuts made by the Republican budget:
• Human Services Development Fund (HSDF), a flexible fund that Montgomery County primarily uses to serve individuals that have physical and mental disabilities that do not qualify for Medical Assistance, is $4 million less than the 2010-2011 budget
• The Homeless Assistance Program is proposed at $20.6 million under the House Republican proposal, which is a decrease of nine percent from Gov. Corbett’s proposed state funding of $22.6 million, and a ten percent decrease from last year’s state funded amount of $22.8 million. This will have a significant impact on the ability of counties to provide homeless services across the commonwealth
• Medical Assistance Transportation (MATP) funds have been decreased by almost $10 million from Governor Corbett’s proposed state budget amount of $74.6 million. In total, when looking at both state and federal funds, the House GOP proposal reduces MATP by almost 14 percent from the 2010 – 2011 appropriation
• County children and youth programs have been cut by approximately $22 million from the Governor’s proposal, and about five percent from FY 2010 – 2011 levels. In particular, the House Republican proposal cuts county child care services an additional 16 percent beyond the governor’s proposed cuts and turns the slight increase proposed by the governor for child care assistance into a reduction of 6.48 percent over 2010 –2011 levels
• Mental health services would also be impacted by a significant cut to behavioral health services initiative (BHSI) dollars, which were reduced an additional $4.3 million (8.3 percent) below the cuts proposed by the governor; this equates to a total cut from FY 2010 – 2011 for BHSI under the House Republican proposal of ten percent. State dollars for autism services have been reduced by 20.3 percent compared to the Governor’s proposed budget.