Waiting for Corbett to deliver options

DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 27, 2012

When Gov. Corbett triumphantly signed his $27.6 billion budget on June 30, he said he was trying to find alternative programs for the 70,000 people he was throwing off the state's welfare rolls.

They're still waiting.

Truth is, there is no state or federal alternative for the people receiving general assistance. That's why the program was created. The only alternative is for the governor to find his heart and restore the funds.

If he doesn't, participants will stop getting their measly $205 monthly checks next week.

The recipients are single adults, including abused women and addicts in treatment programs. They can get GA only for up to nine months over their lifetimes. Disabled persons who have waited up to two years to get federal disability also depend on GA.

They spend the money on rent, medical co-pays, and other necessities. Without it, many are likely to come crashing into the shelter system, or, worse, the criminal-justice system. That will cost the state a lot more than the $205 monthly checks, not to mention the GA recipients' dignity.

Corbett was able to find money in the budget for business tax cuts and to subsidize a Shell Oil petrochemical plant, initiatives he says will spur economic growth.

With state tax collections beating expectations, he needs to also provide for Pennsylvanians who are out of options.

Advocates have been trying to get a meeting with the governor's office to ask whether he has made any progress finding viable options to the cut GA funds. That is an excellent question, and 70,000 people deserve an answer.

No governor should stand by while that many people fall through his state's safety net. Corbett is getting a reputation for turning a deaf ear to the poor. Here's a chance for the governor to prove that he does care.

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