budget

Pennsylvania Budget War losers, from ALS support to the Philly Zoo

Tom Wolf and the state Legislature can’t get a budget passed, and they’re arguing over the next one — meanwhile, here’s who’s hurting from a lack of funds.

The state of Pennsylvania finally got some relief in late December when Governor Tom Wolf and the Republicans passed a partial budget. This meant emergency money for schools and other state-funded programs.

Not everyone was so lucky. Several state-funded programs, services and institutions saw a big, fat “0” on the budget sheet. Wolf, unsatisfied with the Republican-proposed budget, line-item-vetoed many of the appropriations set forth in the bill, leaving no state funding for them. So they are still dealing with the budget crisis.

Here’s a rundown of some of the major services and institutions still affected, from Temple to zoos to an ALS program.

State-affiliated universities

When Wolf and the legislature agreed on a makeshift budget in late January, state universities (Kutztown, West Chester, Bloomsburg, Slippery Rock, etc.) got a reprieve, but state-related universities like Temple, Lincoln, Penn State and the Penn Veterinary school did not. They still have not received an appropriation from the state that usually follows after the passing of a budget. A Republican measure was proposed in the House to release the money, but it has stalled at the hands of the Democrats.

Temple spokesperson Ray Betzner said the expected appropriation for the university would have been $140 million, doled out in monthly installments. So far, Temple has been able to overcome the loss of funding through other revenues, but Betzner said the problem grows worse with each passing month.

The people who lose the most could be Pennsylvania students. He said the appropriations money is used to keep tuition rates for in-state students substantially lower than out-of-state students (Pennsylvanians currently pay about $14,500 and out-of-staters $24,500).

“It’s this one piece of the financial puzzle that is potentially harmful for us by not having this money,” Betzner said.

The Philadelphia Zoo

As an accredited zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo had been eligible to receive a six-figure grant from the state. But those grants didn’t happen under the partial budget.

So thanks to Wolf and the legislature, these guys have been defunded.

The zoo was just one segment of Pennsylvania’s agricultural/animal sector that’s been hit hard. Funding, as part of the makeshift budget, was not allotted for the Dairy Show and Livestock Show and for more than $1 million of agricultural research and promotion.  

Emergency Management and health programs

Local municipal emergency relief programs and search and rescue programs received no state funding under the partial budget. The previous year they were allotted $3,000,000 and $250,000, respectively.

Health programs that didn’t receive any appropriations also include programs for lupus, epilepsy, Tourette Syndrome, diabetes and ALS. Each department had received six figures of funding in 2014-15.

State-funded social programs

In most articles about the budget, state-funded social programs are usually mentioned along with schools as having suffered. The good news for these programs is that most of them had their funding restored as part of the partial budget. The bad news is the six months before it was passed were brutal.

Kristen Houser, with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said the lack of a budget threw their entire operation into disarray. The funding from the state is dispersed to rape crisis centers throughout the state and is used for everything from staffing, to mileage for counselors meeting with victims, to volunteer training to materials for prevention education.

“It really threw chaos and unneeded stress onto overworked and underpaid staff who expose themselves to traumatic stress daily,” Houser said.

Some rape crisis centers had to lay off staff, and other staff members left for other opportunities. Those positions have not been filled since the partial budget was passed.

The full list of programs that have received zero funding

Executive offices

  • Public Employee Retirement Commission
  • Child Advocacy Centers

Agriculture

  • Agricultural Excellence
  • Agricultural Research
  • Agricultural Promotion, Education and Exports
  • Hardwoods Research and Promotion
  • Livestock Show
  • Open Dairy Show
  • Youth Shows  
  • Transfer to Agricultural College Land Scrip Fund
  • Penn Veterinary Activities
  • Penn Center for Infectious Disease

Community and Economic Development

  • Accredited Zoos
  • Rural Leadership Training
  • Super Computer Center
  • Infrastructure Technology Assistance Program
  • Powdered Metals

Conservation and Natural Resources

  • Heritage and other Parks

Education

  • Mobile Science and Math Education Programs
  • Job Training and Education Programs
  • Regional Community College Services
  • Penn State
  • Pitt
  • Temple
  • Lincoln

Health

  • Diabetes programs
  • Regional Cancer Institutes
  • Lupus
  • Regional Poison Control Centers
  • Trauma Prevention
  • Epilepsy Support Services
  • Bio-Technology Research
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • ALS Support Services

Human Services

  • Medical Assistance — Obstetrics and Neonatal
  • Medical Assistance — Hospital-based Burn Centers
  • Medical Assistance — Critical Access Hospitals

Labor and Industry

  • New Choices/New Options

Emergency Management Agency

  • Search and Rescue Programs
  • Disaster Relief

 

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