Senate’s cuts to Corbett’s budget offer some good news

BROOKVILLE — The Pennsylvania Senate’s vote to approve a $27.65 billion spending plan Wednesday indicates a more hopeful outcome for the state’s human services field.

The budget bill, which was approved on a vote of 39-8, restores around $500 million in cuts to education, social services and other areas proposed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in his $27.14 billion proposal.

The measure will now be sent to the state House.

“It’s good to see from my perspective that negotiations have at least begun,” Jefferson County Children & Youth Services Director Brian Mowrey said Wednesday.
In the senate’s proposal, the Human Services Development Fund (HSDF) would see a 10 percent cut — half of the governor’s proposed 20-percent cut.

If the senate’s version of the budget is approved, that money will be taken from the $100,000 evidence-based grant funding from Children & Youth Services and put back into HSDF. The county’s fund is currently down to $51,000.

Agencies such as Community Action Inc., the Clearfield-Jefferson Drug and Alcohol Commission, Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging (JCAAA), Clearfield-Jefferson Mental Health/Mental Retardation (MH/MR) and Life & Independence for Today that provide services to Jefferson County residents won’t see as drastic a reduction in services with the current budget proposal.

“The senate’s proposal does reduce the cut to the line items to half of what the governor proposed,” Mowrey said. “That’s the good news. I’m optimistic. It’s a definite improvement.”

Jefferson County Commissioner Jim McIntyre agreed.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that there’s going to be a different outcome on the governor’s proposal for human services,” he said. “The senate is listening to the concerns of the consumers that receive those services. The bottom line is, through all this discussion, we’ve got to remember the needs for these human services.”