Wheelchairs created a semi-circle in front of the stage set up in Market Square Wednesday morning and cries of “Don’t cut what works” greeted each speaker as part of a rally to stave off state budget cuts for social services.
The heads of several Pittsburgh area non-profits put forward arguments as to why the funding should not be cut. Family Resources Executive Director Walter Smith said the cuts hurt taxpayers almost as much as those who directly receive the
state-supported services. “If you cut child abuse prevention service more kids will be injured, more kids will go into placement, you don’t save money, it costs more,” said Smith.
More than one speaker decried the possible loss of in-home care. “On multiple occasions we heard from people that they would rather die than go into institutional placement,” said Adrienna Walnoha, Executive Director at the Oakland-based non-profit, Community Human Services, “So I ask you, is suicide the alternative to these cuts? So why are we cutting what works?”
“The people who benefit from these services and may be harmed have no lobbyist, they make no political contributions, they don’t have a political action committees that fund the various elected officials,” said United Way of Allegheny County President Bob Nelkin, “in many ways they have no access and no voice in the budget process.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts hundreds of millions of dollars in social service spending from the 2011-2012 budget. The State House and Senate will debate the spending plan in earnest in the coming weeks.