Thanks to your advocacy, issues of concern to Catholics received more attention this year than in recent memory. Now that state legislators have returned to their home districts for the summer, here is a quick recap:
School Choice Victory! Governor Tom Corbett signed the tax code bill that expands the existing Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, eliminates the delay for some companies that wish to contribute, and creates another category of tax-credit supported scholarships called EITC 2.0 targeted at students in neighborhoods with perpetually underperforming public schools. This legislation also authorizes school districts to elect to establish their own scholarship grant program, using the state subsidy, for students who want to attend nonpublic schools or public schools in other districts. Please click here to send a message of thanks to those who supported this legislation.
Homeowner’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) The Legislature passed SB 1433 which will enable the PA Housing Finance Agency to reopen HEMAP and start accepting applications for loans this summer. This program has helped thousands of Pennsylvanians over the years by providing loans to homeowners who were faced with foreclosure through no fault of their own
General Assistance This program, which allowed for a $205 stipend to those truly needy with no other place to turn, was not funded and there is no program to replace it. Advocates for the poor, including PCC, are extremely disappointed with the elimination of the General Assistance program and will be seeking to work cooperatively with the governor and DPW to find alternatives to assist those affected.
Human Services Development Fund (HSDF) This includes state dollars that go to counties to provide a wide range of human services. Initially, these funds were slated for a 20% cut. Upon final passage of the budget, HSDF was cut 10%. While we are pleased the full 20% cut was not made, PCC will continue to advocate for funding for these vital services.
Pro-Life: The budget line item to fund the state’s alternatives to abortion program, called Real Alternatives, contained a 5.2% increase. In a year where many programs were cut or level-funded, the PCC is pleased with this recognition of the value of life from conception.
Thank you again for all of your efforts!