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Thanksgiving budget hopes dwindle as nonprofits suffer

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Governor Tom Wolf says he's thankful for many blessings this holiday season; family, Thanksgiving dinner among them.

What he really wants, however, he's beginning to realize he can't have.

"Of course, one of the blessings we cannot count on is a budget for Pennsylvania," Wolf said.

Wolf speaking to a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg on Monday, saying Republican leadership was unable to convince their membership to approve of the Governor's framework budget which included a sales tax increase from 6 to 7.25 percent to pay for property tax relief.

Two weeks prior, his team announced an apparent budget agreement with GOP leaders, which included $350 million in additional education spending. Wolf expected a deal would be done by Thanksgiving.

"Unfortunately, that work is in peril," Wolf said. "Deep peril."

Spokespeople for Republican leaders in the state House and Senate say their bosses never agreed to the governor's statement that a deal would be in place before the end of the month. On Monday, they said Pennsylvania would not have a budget in place, currently in its 146th day of impasse, by Thanksgiving.

Each day without funds supplied by a state budget makes living worse for employees and domestic violence victims at Survivors Inc. of Adams County, a nonprofit which specializes in taking in abuse victims in and around Gettysburg.

Its president and CEO, Terri Hamrick, spoke inside the Capitol rotunda on Monday, as more than 100 organizations statewide participated in a campaign to share stories on how the budget crisis is affecting them.

Survivors Inc. has been forced to close its doors to 181 people -- 110 women and 71 children -- from July 1 through September 30.

"It's devastating because we don't turn people away," Hamrick says. "We know if we turn someone away there could be a body count because they couldn't seek safety that night."

Hamrick adds that Survivors Inc. has already had to borrow $165,000 in loans, and still owes over $150,000 in unpaid bills. She says they are only paying essential bills, which means trash for the 36 people who are currently living in the shelter has not been picked up. Cell phones don't work, either.

"It's an absolutely horrible, tense environment," she says. "I blame everyone. You have this circle of influence which keeps expanding from a crisis that quite bluntly, is manufactured and is using vulnerable people as pawns."




4:29 The GOP has been unable to muster the votes they need to transform into a real budget