200 Northumberland County residents protest proposal to eliminate General Assistance

SUNCOM clients line up support
May 30, 2012

NORTHUMBERLAND — More than 200 clients of SUNCOM Industries stood at Routes 11 and 147 to protest the Republican-controlled Legislature that is proposing a 20 percent cut to a Depression-era program that provides about $200 a month for tens of thousands of disabled adults who can’t work.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s cuts to the program seem to be final because the state’s spending on programs for the poor is unsustainable and the $150 million General Assistance line item is a target for elimination. The state Senate, however, has voted to restore some of the funding.

“We can’t lose this money,” said Sharron Roedts, SUNCOM Industries director of rehabilitation. “We just can’t.”

Click here to read the full story.

Lehigh Valley Morning Call: “Corbett’s budget plan axes ‘last resort’ help for poor”

Carmelo Reyes Jr. said he’s terrified of the possibility of losing the only income he has.

The 31-year-old Allentown resident, who suffers from schizophrenia and is unable to work, depends on a $205 monthly check he gets from the state to pay his room rental.

“If they cut the cash, I’m homeless,” said Reyes Jr., who has been waiting nearly three years to qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

He is among 70,000 disabled or struggling Pennsylvanians who can’t work and stand to lose their only source of income if Gov. Tom Corbett goes through with his plan to slash the state’s General Assistance welfare program.

Click here to read the complete story.

Public Opinion: Keep General Assistance benefit in the state budget

EDITORIAL: Keep General Assistance benefit in the state budget

May 31, 2012
Every state budget season requires tough choices, difficult questions focused on how to accomplish certain policy goals with a finite, sometimes diminished, amount of resources.

We would like to suggest that saving $150 million by taking $200 a month from disabled people will bring no honor or accolades to this state government.

Read full editorial here.

Pocono Record: “State should protect the least of these”


May 21, 2012


We’re not talking lazy people here. We’re talking about individuals whose disability prevents them from earning a living.

Yet Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts for the coming year include a plan to do away with a program that provides just about $200 a month to those very disabled adults. Corbett wants to get rid of the $150 million General Assistance cash benefit to these folks even though Pennsylvania is experiencing a slowly improving economy and rising tax revenues…. Fixing the program may be challenging. But it would be more humane than depriving people who can’t support themselves of what at best are meager publicly funded benefits. What is government for, if not to help those in society who need help the most?

Read the full editorial by clicking here.

Lehigh Valley Express-Times opposes eliminating General Assistance

EDITORIAL: Pa. budget extracts too much from human services, education
May 17, 2012

EXCERPT: The Senate’s amendments are welcome, but its budget still wipes out the general assistance cash-grant program, which provide checks of $200 a month to adults living with disabilities. For some, that may be the difference between paying rent and utility bills and hitting the streets.

To read the full editorial, click here.

Rev. Reumann: “The faith community can’t pick up all the slack of government cuts”

 The faith community can’t pick up all the slack of government cuts
by Rev. Amy Reumann, Director, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania

Sunday, May 13, 2012


As budget cuts slash government programs that serve the poor, the rhetoric justifying those cuts often includes the line, “The faith community can do it.”
I’ve heard the following in response to proposed reductions to PA WorkWear (“churches will give them clothes”) and food programs (“churches can give them food”). Most recently, I’ve heard it in reference to the proposed elimination of General Assistance, a small monthly cash payment that goes to the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians and the 20 percent proposed reduction to the programs bundled into the Human Services Development Fund block grant.
Let the church or synagogue or mosque take care of those tossed off General Assistance, and minister to the human collateral from unprecedented human service cuts or so the logic goes. Taking care of those in poverty is a core mission of the church and religious community, but this refrain ignores two facts: Congregations are stretched thin, too, with finite resources.

Read the entire column by clicking here.

Hundreds of Pennsylvanians come to Harrisburg to Raise Their Voices Against the Elimination of General Assistance

Thank you to the over 700 Pennsylvanians from across the Commonwealth came out to Harrisburg this morning to save General Assistance.   We’ll have more information in the days to come.  But in the meantime, you can see more photos of the day here.

Have photos or videos of the day that you’d like to share?  Please send them to Michael Froehlich at mfroehlich@clsphila.org.  Thanks.


Phila Inquirer editorial: “Corbett budget cuts could increase spending”

Corbett budget cuts could increase spending
April 24, 2012
Inquirer Editorial

By cutting a wide swath through Harrisburg’s safety-net spending, Gov. Corbett’s proposed fiscal plan for Pennsylvania may look as if it balances the budget without breaking his no-tax pledge. But what if his plan backfires?

According to a group of 100 organizations (pacaresforall.org) allied against the general-assistance cuts, the savings would be wiped out if only a fraction of the recipients turn to such services as city shelters, or get arrested after resorting to crime.

Read full editorial here.

Chambersburg Public Opinion: “There will be a lot of hungry people if the state eliminates General Assistance.”

Corbett wants to cut $205 payments to disabled, others
April 12, 2012


“If not for General Assistance, I’d be living on the streets,” said the Virginia native. “I’d be homeless.”

Gov. Tom Corbett claims that by zeroing out General Assistance the 2012-13 budget would save state taxpayers’ more than $150 million.

“This is the single largest budget cut in Gov. Corbett’s proposed budget,” said Michael R. Froehlich, staff attorney for Community Legal Services Inc. “It will affect 68,836 Pennsylvanians who are currently receiving General Assistance. In Franklin County, 216 people receive GA. It’s not many, but for these folks, it could literally be the difference between life and death. And if Pennsylvania takes away this program, these folks won’t simply vanish. They’ll show up in much more expensive shelters, emergency rooms, and – in the worst case scenario – the criminal justice system.”

The projected savings would be wiped out if just 7 percent of GA clients end up in jail, or 18 percent go to a homeless shelter or even less than 1 percent wind up in a psychiatric hospital, according to pacaresforall.org, a coalition of more than 100 organizations trying to save GA.

Read full article by clicking here.

Delaware Co Daily Times column: “Spare seniors, families, kids from big cuts”

Spare seniors, families, kids from big cuts
Times Guest Columnists
Saturday, April 7, 2012


Funding is eliminated for a program providing temporary assistance for very low-income adults who are sick or living with a disability, victims of domestic violence, or completing drug and alcohol treatment. County programs that help keep individuals with intellectual disabilities in lower cost community-based care rather than in institutions are on the chopping block. Cuts to health care funding threaten the care and safety of seniors.

This is not about cutting waste but rather pulling the rug out from under the people hit hardest by the recession.

There are better choices. Pennsylvania lawmakers can avoid deep cuts that hurt children, families and seniors without raising taxes.

Read the full story here.