FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Mike Sturla
Chairman, Democratic Policy Committee
Democratic Policy Committee investigates impact of DPW cuts
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – Democratic Policy Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said the committee heard from Pennsylvania’s human service providers and advocates for the disabled at a public hearing today to determine what impacts cuts in funding for the Department of Public Welfare had had on residents of the Commonwealth.
Sturla said Republicans gave DPW Secretary Gary Alexander unprecedented power last year to make changes in programs managed by his department in order to reduce expenses, without oversight from the legislature. Those cuts resulted in fewer services for seniors and the disabled, as well as the removal of 88,000 children from Medical Assistance. According to the proposed budget plan presented by Gov. Corbett this week, next year would produce many of the same negative results, Sturla added.
“Cuts to the Commonwealth’s social safety net left tens of thousands of Pennsylvania’s working adults, seniors, disabled and children without access to basic and preventative health care last year, and there are already plans to remove low-income residents from food assistance in May. These actions place more pressure on community-based organizations, religious groups and counties to provide needed services,” Sturla said. “Governor Corbett refuses to recognize the negative impact his administration’s unilateral cuts have had on our residents. Today’s hearing heard from those who are responding to the additional need in our communities.”
“We need to empower people to escape dire economic conditions in Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Human Services Committee. “As our state recovers from the recent economic downturn, we have an obligation to ensure residents don’t needlessly suffer a loss of vital services.”
Those testifying at the hearing included Kathy Jellison, president, SEIU Local 668; Eugene Quaglia, chairperson, CAO Rank & File Committee, SEIU Local 668; Kelly Andrisano, executive director, PA Association of County Human Services Administrators; Jenna Mehnert, executive director, NASW-PA; Linda Anthony, policy director, Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania; and the Rev. Sandra Strauss, director of Public Advocacy, Pennsylvania Council of Churches.
For more information about the Policy Committee and hearing materials, visit www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee.