The Pennsylvania Treasury announced Monday the distribution of $3.3 billion in emergency payments to school districts, counties and human services organizations. Gov. Tom Wolf released the funds last week, while vetoing parts of a budget proposal left to him before Christmas.
Service organizations that rely on state funding have not received payments for months as the budget stalemate has continued. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence is one of the organizations benefiting from the payments.
“We have been submitting invoices for payment since July 1," Executive Director Peg Dierkers said. “It will take the commonwealth almost two weeks to get the payment to us, so that we can get it out the next day to the programs and agencies, so that they can provide services.”
Dierkers said the funding will go to services, but also to paying off lines of credit that had to be taken out during the impasse to keep agencies afloat.
She said the release of emergency funds will provide relief after service organizations felt, “desperate and panicked.”
Dierkers said she expects the organization to receive payments in the next two weeks. The treasury expedited the payments, which generally take about 10 days to process and send. Payments began going out to agencies Monday, and some even received payments as early as Tuesday.
Victim Outreach Intervention Center in Butler County, which serves victims of domestic violence, was also hit by the budget impasse.
“So we’ve had to find the money to stay open and now we have to find the money to pay for the money we had to borrow to stay open,” said VOICe Executive Director Heidi Artman. “It’s frustrating, and it’s infuriating.”
It’s unclear how much of its funding will come from the emergency disbursement, and Artman said VOICe is not among the organizations receiving payments this week, but expects to see funds later this month.
Artman said, for now, VOICe staff is breathing a sigh of relief, but a small one. She said the larger issues that led to the budget impasse have not been addressed. Dierkers agreed.
“Hopefully we have learned from those six months of pain,” she said, “but we could be right back where we we have been come July if our legislature and governor doesn’t (sic) address the bigger revenue problem for the state.”