Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nonprofits Ask For Fast and Fair Budget

Non-profit groups in Pittsburgh are calling on the state to not only pass a “responsible” budget but to do it on time. Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership Chair Mitch Swain says state lawmakers must look at all the options before them and find ways to raise revenues and make cuts without, “balancing the budget on the backs of vulnerable people.” Members of his group will be meeting with lawmakers April 11th – 14th. Swain says he does not have a solution but the message is going to be clear that the lawmakers must find one. Pittsburgh Catholic Charities Executive Director Susan Rauscher says the delays are not just political issues or blips in eventual funding. She says it results in services being lost for real people, layoffs at service providers and local budget considerations that last beyond the delay. Swain agrees. He says last years budget delay had real consequences, “Close to 30,000 individuals lost critical services, 3,500 children lost child care services, 69% of organizations that responded to the United Way of Pennsylvania’s nonprofit budget impasse survey had to reduce or eliminate services, organizations had to take out loans to get through the impasse and they are still paying it down.”

Urban League of Pittsburgh President Esther Bush says the state cannot cut its way out of the problem. She says at a time when demand for the services of nonprofits is up, the amount of money they have to spend is shrinking. She says her organization has had to cut its housing assistance in half, which left 161 cases on the waiting list. The money is used to help individuals get over the hurdle of having a first and last month rent and a security deposit. Bernadette Turner is the executive director of Addison Behavioral Care. She says her organization could not cut services and leave people with out help. She says the people at Addison know that if they do not provide critical services to their clients everyone in the city gets hurt. “The thought of one home invasion, one kid over dosing, one kid beaten or one elderly person robbed will be irresponsible,” says Turner. Turner says her group had to find ways to cut costs and find new revenues and the state should do the same. “We know that lives depend on what we do and we say to the state legislators that lives depend on what you do. So we ask for a fair budget passed on time.”

The state issued numbers this week showing that it has built a billion dollar deficit this year and deeper deficits have been predicted for the coming year.

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