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PA is now officially the last State without a budget

As all of you are aware, we are NOW in our 4th month with a state budget. PA is NOW the last state without a budget; Connecticut and Arizona were the last holdouts; each passed one in early September. Everyone here realizes a few costs of not having a state budget:

  • Current Waiting Lists for programs such as Act 150 and the OBRA Waiver
  • Recent layoffs of employees from various disability organizations, including some Centers for Independent Living (CILs)
  • New debt and incurred costs for CILs and other organizations in the disability community in order to maintain services, employees and pay the costs of doing business (insurance premiums, rents, travel) through lines of credit
  • Inability to continue to assist the Commonwealth of PA to balance its long term care, which produces:
  • Financial Costs to both the Commonwealth and taxpayers since nursing home and other institutional care is often more expensive
  • Personal Costs: LOSS OF LIBERTY for those going into nursing homes and other institutions and GREAT ANGUISH for all affected


    As everyone has heard, there was a budget agreement between leadership of 3 of the 4 caucuses (House Democrats, Senate Republicans, and Senate Democrats) plus Governor Rendell on September 18. House Republicans have opted not to participate in the remainder of the budget negotiations. The final spending number is expected to be about $27.945 million; but the line items of each department and revenue sources are NOT yet agreed to. There is also disagreement among the rank and file members of all 4 caucuses about how this is approached. It is expected that some House Republicans will vote for the current budget agreement which may be needed to offset a few House Democratic defections. Assuming that the Governor and 3 Caucus Leadership noted above remain in agreement, it takes 102 House members and 26 Senators to pass a budget. Right now, those votes are in question, due perhaps in part to changes in the past 2 days about an agreement on revenue sources. Governor Rendell is asking ALL PA Legislators to stay in Harrisburg until an agreement is passed. At this time, we have NOT seen a draft or budget bill.

    In SB 850 (Bridge Budget), signed by the Governor on August 5, some items where included, such as Attendant Care, CSPPD and Aging Waiver (most) plus Act 150. The Governor ‘blue lined’ over $42 million in long term care line (some Aging Waiver funding) plus funding for State Supported CILs and Home Modifications (DCED Accessible Housing line item) and a number of other programs for people with disabilities. SB 850 amounts are below what PA can use to receive maximum Federal Stimulus dollars and keep pace with its normal growth in long term care.

    What we need to do:

    Contact your legislators and note the following or a similar message by e-mail, fax or mail by close of business today and over the weekend into next week. In addition, please call and have your staff, consumers, board members and other community supporters do the same.

    Calls are good, summarizing the underlined points.


    Dear _____:

    We ask you to consider the following:

    Support Full Funding for state CILs in PA Department of Labor and Industry’s budget - $2.273 million. This equals base funding form the last state budget. State funded CILs got a $97,000 cut during last year. Like private industry and other non profit entities, state funded CILs need to keep pace with the cost of doing business as they have rising insurance, transportation, rents and other increased costs.

    Support $2.961 million (FY 08-09 amount) for Home Modifications (DCED’s Accessible Housing line item). This helps people with disabilities and seniors to remain in their homes, thus saving taxpayer dollars instead of more expensive nursing home or other institutional care. A huge cut here does not help to rebalance PA’s Long Term Care system.

    Support Governor’s Original Proposal on Medicaid Waivers and state funded programs for people with disabilities under age 60 and seniors to balance our long term care. Most long term care in PA is still received in nursing homes and other institutions. Please support the Governor’s proposals for funding long term care for people with disabilities and seniors in Medicaid Waivers (Attendant Care, Aging, CSPPPD and others) as well as the Act 150 program. Act 150 and OBRA Waiver NOW have waiting lists-we need your help to stop further damage.

    Both the CILs and the disability community enjoy strong support from the Governor and all 4 Legislative Caucuses. Please pass a budget NOW that protects people with disabilities and seniors by empowering citizens to remain in our communities.

    Thank you.

    Zainab Jama
    Executive Director
    Pennsylvania Statwide Independent Living Council

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