Deadlock on budget means agencies and its beneficiaries are scrambling for support

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Some Pennsylvania service agencies are starting to feel the pinch of partisan deadlock in a passing a budget.  The budget's already over 50 days late.

Patrina Lewis, of Lancaster, turns to Headstart as a safe zone for her children.

Lewis says, "Having a program that's free and available to us, where our children are safe and can eat healthy meals, provide transportation."

Plus, it's an agency that makes her feel welcomed.  She says, "I feel like I'm not the only person going through it, there are others that care about my children as well as I do and are willing to help me."

But Lewis may have to find another place for her child if lawmakers can't pass a budget.  Ted Dallas is the secretary of the State Department of Human Services.  The agency serves over 2 million Pennsylvanians every year.  Dallas says Governor Wolf proposes $12 billion for human services.  Without that money, agencies will turn to other means to keep services afloat.

Dallas says, "They are going to need lines of credit, pay for interest, instead of helping people and our message is that's why it's important to sit down and hammer out a budget that covers these costs."

Dallas spoke to agencies and beneficiaries inside the Community Action Program of Lancaster County.  Democratic Representative Mike Sturla was also there.  He says the solution is focusing on a balanced budget.

Sturla says, "We need to take issues like pensions off the table because even the proposals the Republicans put forward did nothing to do anything for the budget in the near term.  The budget the Governor vetoed has a $3 billion dollar structural deficit in it and that's something there's no compromise on."

The press secretary to Republican Majority leader Mike Turzai says the House and Senate are planning a veto override tomorrow as a way to get needed funds to the services.  People like Patrina Lewis hope lawmakers will act soon.

"It's a fear of the unknown.  We want to have that security, but not having it, is fearful they even had to cut back slots in the program because of not knowing where we'll go in the future," says Lewis.

Governor Wolf announced a plan last week to make sure non-profit agencies get compensated for bills and interest payments, if they have to borrow money.

The Governor has the ability to do this with an executive order, but it would still need legislative approval.

 

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