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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: January 3, 2023 03:05 PM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes and Sen. Art Haywood
To: All Senate members
Subject: Poverty Reduction Initiatives
In the near future, we plan on reintroducing several pieces of legislation that will help guide how the Commonwealth addresses poverty.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 12.1% of Pennsylvania’s population are in poverty. According to the Center for American Progress, Pennsylvania ranked 25 in the nation for people who fell below the poverty line. In 2021, according to information from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 23% of Latinos and 24% of African Americans lived in poverty in Pennsylvania.
Most troubling, Pennsylvania is home to what is considered the poorest major city in the United States. Of the more than 1.5 million people who lived in Philadelphia during 2021, approximately 22.8% lived below the poverty line.
Too often, we in Harrisburg are making decisions without knowing what the effects of those decisions or policies will have on poverty in the Commonwealth. We can continue to fight for policies that will raise wages and create jobs, but without objective information we may not know what effects those policies will have on poverty in the Commonwealth.
We hope you will join us in sponsoring these initiatives.
Please contact Michael Deery in Senator Hughes' office or Erin Serre in Senator Haywood's office if you have any questions.

Document #1

Introduced as SB436

Description: The first piece of legislation we are proposing, a reintroduction of Senate Bill 467 from last session, requires the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) to complete a poverty impact analysis on the governor’s proposed budget, the enacted budget and any bill, amendment or joint resolution upon written request of a member of the General Assembly.  The poverty impact analysis for the governor’s proposed budget must be completed by May 1 of each year and the review of the enacted budget must be completed within 90 days of enactment.  If a poverty impact analysis is requested on a bill, amendment or joint resolution, neither chamber of the General Assembly may give second consideration to the bill, amendment or joint resolution until the poverty impact analysis is completed.   This provision is modeled after the requirement for an actuarial note before pension legislation can be voted upon. This legislation provides a mechanism to allow a bill to be considered if a poverty impact analysis is not completed in a timely manner.
A poverty impact analysis on a bill, amendment or joint resolution would look at the impact, if any, the bill, amendment or joint resolution may have on the poverty and deep poverty rate of the Commonwealth and would include: projected ratio equal to the amount of the appropriations that will benefit individuals and families with a household income below 200% of the Federal poverty level over the total amount appropriated; a projection of the number of individuals and family incomes that decrease below the poverty threshold or increase above the poverty threshold that a proposed budget or budget would cause; and a projection as to how the proposed budget or budget reduces or increases access to basic human services, including health care, housing and education.

Document #2

Introduced as SB437

Description: The second piece of legislation, a reintroduction of Senate Bill 468 from last session, is modeled after a program adopted in Utah in 2012 which uses data and a research-driven approach to reduce poverty.  Since enactment, childhood poverty rates in Utah have decreased.  This legislation, known as the Intergenerational Poverty Act, requires the Department of Human Services to maintain a system to track intergenerational poverty.  The data collected from the system would be used by a Commission of several cabinet members who would analyze the data and implement data-driven policies and programs addressing poverty, public assistance, education and other areas, as needed, to measurably reduce the incidences of childhood and adult poverty.