JSPAN Urges PA Legislature to Pass a Fair and Adequate Budget Now!

Pennsylvania is facing a budget crisis that is threatening the very lifelines that protect thousands of vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and there is no end in sight. The Pennsylvania Legislature must pass a fair and adequate budget now. JSPAN is joining Pennsylvania’s faith community, clergy, and leaders from every faith tradition and signing on to letters that will be sent to members of the Budget Conference Committee, the General Assembly Leadership, and every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In those letters, we reiterate our common commitment to certain shared principles, including: the value of all persons, regardless of any identifiable demographic characteristic; the need for government to promote, enhance, and protect the ability of all members of society to flourish; and the responsibility of government to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens – children, elderly, poor, physically or mentally fragile – are not made to suffer, but have what they need to create a decent life. We note the devastating impact of the delay in passing a budget upon Pennsylvania's citizens, especially at a time when Pennsylvanians suffering the effects of the Great Recession are turning to state-funded services and to institutions in their communities for assistance. Like the Commonwealth and local governments, hospitals, elder care providers, non-profit organizations, community colleges, schools, and others are left with dramatically reduced resources to meet growing demand. Closure and/or severe cutbacks in services will leave even more Pennsylvanians at risk, without access to needed services. We acknowledge that we support fiscal accountability, but also emphasize that Pennsylvania cannot solve its current fiscal crisis through spending cuts alone. In order to avoid devastating reduction and elimination of services that protect our citizens, thoughtful measures aimed at boosting revenue to help balance the budget, as well as cuts, will be needed. A number of approaches aimed at enhancing revenues already have been placed on the legislative table. We observe that cuts to local education and safety net services within the state budget will not protect Pennsylvanians from tax increases, but will simply shift the burden to the local level where local property owners will bear the brunt of increased property taxes to fund important services. We conclude by asserting that Pennsylvania's budget is a moral document and a statement of our shared responsibility to protect our citizens, and reminding our state legislators of their responsibility to work toward building a solid foundation for the future -- a future that does not leave children, elderly, and other vulnerable Pennsylvanians without the services they need. We stress that this is best accomplished by preserving critical services for the most vulnerable and sustaining investments in education and skills that will serve to build a stronger Commonwealth. We implore our state legislators to move with all due speed to arrive at a compromise budget that is fair, avoids devastating gaps or loss of services for thousands of Pennsylvania citizens, and ends the uncertainty that local governments and agencies face as they try to maintain crucial services for those who need them most. JSPAN urges our members and friends to write to your state legislators and demand that they pass a fair and adequate budget now. If you do not know the names of your Senator or Representative, go to http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm and enter your zip code.