As state lawmakers struggle to agree on a budget, a coalition of 32 community organizations has banded together to push for changes in the budget-making process for future years.
Max King, president of The Pittsburgh Foundation, said he wants there to be a hard deadline in which no state employees gets paid until a budget is in place. The state is supposed to have a new budget by July 1 each year.
“What we’re concerned about as much as what’s going on right this minute, is the long term,” King said. “Is this going to happen again next year and the year after? It seems as if in recent years, the budget process has gotten broken.”
The current stalemate has reached five months.
King said he wants the coalition to serve as a voice for those affected by the budget impasse.
“We’re going to try to use our resources to influence Harrisburg to fix this process so that budgets meet a hard and fast deadline on July 1, and they don’t just slip month after month,” he said.
He said the coalition has formed over the past couple of weeks out of concern for the future of nonprofits in the state.
“A lot of these organizations that we’ve been in touch with have had to take on a significant amount of debt to sustain their operations ... some of them have had to lay off employees, cut services,” he said.
Along with passing the budget, King said the coalition is urging the state to restore funding for health and human services to at least the levels prior to the Corbett administration.
He added that as the budget is negotiated, it's a good time to consider boosting funding for those services.
“There’s reason to take a good, hard look at the state resources for health and human services across the state to see if they’re really adequate,” he said. “Ever since the recession of 2008 started, there have been a lot of families in Pennsylvania that have been living really near the edge.”