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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 2, 2017 08:59 AM
From: Representative Gene DiGirolamo
To: All House members
Subject: Budget Impasse
I am writing to invite you to join me in introducing legislation which would provide a fair and equitable process for those who faithfully continue to provide services to our constituents during times when the Commonwealth does not have an enacted budget. I believe it is important for us to learn lessons from the longest budget stalemate in history and one big lesson is that regardless of when a General Fund budget is approved or how much it allocates to a program, that program should have equal access to interim funding if such has been granted to other programs. In my view it is patently unfair for some providers to receive funding while others are left begging.

Last year’s budget impasse left many of our providers on the verge of bankruptcy while some selected ones were maintained with funding by the Commonwealth. Those decisions were not based on any determination of need but merely of whim. It is my firm belief that if the Executive Branch opens the door to funding groups and activities during a period in which the previous Commonwealth budget has expired and a new one has not yet been enacted, there needs to be fair and equal access by all of the Commonwealth’s partners.

My legislation would remedy this issue by clearly establishing the policy of equality and the procedures to ensure that equal access. Specifically, my legislation would:
  • Define essential services under very specific categories limited to those for domestic violence, mental health services, behavioral health services, intellectual disabilities, payments and services to counties for children and youth programs, the Human Services Development Fund, addiction treatment services, as well as other services for which counties provide services on behalf of the Commonwealth;
  • Require the Secretary of the Budget to certify to the State Treasurer the amounts paid for essential services during the previous fiscal year and allow the appropriate departments to submit requisitions for payments for essential services; and,
  • Ensure that the amounts appropriated for each program are subtracted from that amount included in the enacted appropriation.

This is not a partisan issue. All of us have received letters from providers for the Commonwealth who experienced near death circumstances during the last year that caused them to reduce work force and acquire debt in order to maintain their ability to serve the clients that we have retained them to serve. There is no reason why some service providers receive continuation of funding while others do not.

I firmly believe that if the Commonwealth is going to open the door to assisting some service providers, then that assistance needs to be available to all of those who in good faith have taken on the task of serving our constituents. I invite your co-sponsorship of this legislation.

Introduced as HB398