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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

CCAP Sounds Alarm Over State Budget

A measure now before the state legislature has the potential to drastically increase county taxes across the state. Leaders of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) have launched a publicity blitz asking Pennsylvania citizens to contact members of the State Senate and urge them to vote against Senate Bill 850. The measure, unveiled this week, “contains significant cuts from in several line items important to counties,” according to CCAP. The Senate plans to vote on the bill on Wednesday, before adjourning for a several-week break.

CCAP asks citizens, “Please contact Senate members as soon as possible and let them know that this budget may save them from raising taxes or fees, but will surely require increases in property taxes at the county level . . . no legislator should take pride in a no-tax-increase vote at the state level if it means property tax increases at the local level.”

Meanwhile, CCAP is assessing a companion piece of legislation, House Bill 1416, to determine its impact on human services that provide for healthy families and communities, as well as other program areas that are important to counties.

“House plans for moving this bill are not yet clear, but the introduction of both and the rapid movement of the Senate version signal that discussions are about to begin in earnest, and quick movement will be necessary to meet the State Constitution deadline of June 30 for passage of the spending plan,” CCAP reported.

Senate Bill 850 calls for the following funding reductions, some of which would have to be made up by higher county taxes:

  • Mental Health: reduced by nearly 2 percent from the Governor’s budget, which contained a 2 percent cut from 2008-2009, resulting in a loss of funding of 4 percent at a time when case loads are on the increase.
  • Mental Retardation: base reduced by 5 percent from the Governor’s budget, which contained a 2 percent cut from 2008-2009, resulting in a loss of funding of 7 percent for 2010.
  • Behavioral Health Services: reduced by 24 percent from the Governor’s proposal.
  • Tobacco Prevention/Cessation: reduced by 100 percent.
  • Child Welfare: reduced by at least $6 million.
  • Drug and Alcohol programs funded through the Department of Health: at the same level requested by the Governor, details are not yet available.
  • Medical Assistance Transportation: reduced by $2.7 million from the Governor’s proposal.
  • Courts: No funding for full-time district attorney, as well as additional cuts in county court cost support, which was reduced in the Governor’s proposal by 4 percent
  • Environmental Programs: funding is greatly reduced, with large reductions in funding for gypsy moth, black fly, West Nile virus, and storm water management. Funds for conservation districts are not cut beyond those cuts proposed by the Governor.
  • Department of Agriculture programs: reduced below the cuts indicated by the Governor.
  • Tourism: funding is reduced significantly, cut again from the funding proposed by the Governor.
  • DCED: land use planning funding is eliminated, along with customized job training, and housing and redevelopment.
  • Potter County Today

8 comments :

Anonymous said...

Hate to say it, but the cuts look good to me. Go Senate, go! If the counties have to trim some given the current economic climate so be it.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I agree cuts have to be made. Reading the article above this one, sounds like cuts are going to be used to filter the money to other programs. Organic farming is great, just so expensive to buy anything labeled organic in rural areas like ours. Cities, yes organic stores are thriving.

Anonymous said...

Here come the DA cuts...let's go back to our part time DA w/a part time salary!

Anonymous said...

That is a good start. Lots of cuts to go before a really balenced budget will exist. If government had to strictly spend within its means, we all would be better off.

Anonymous said...

ditto on 4:49

Anonymous said...

the cuts look good to me too. I hope the Senate stands their ground.

Anonymous said...

Problem is, the state is cutting the funds but the state is still requiring the counties to provide the services. So the impact is higher county real estate taxes. We lose.

Anonymous said...

I haven't studied the Senate's budget in detail, but I don't think a lot or most of these programs would be shifted to the counties.