On Saturday, Governor Corbett signed the Pennsylvania stage budget for FY 2012-2013. Earlier that afternoon the 2012-2013 welfare code bill (HB 1261), which includes the Human Services Block Grant, passed the state House of Representatives—in a vote of 102-91–and was signed into law by the Governor. (See below for actual vote.)
Below is summary of the Block Grant proposal and the changes to General Assistance as signed into law. Although very disappointed with the final result, MHAPA recognizes that hard work and endless hours of advocacy by organizations, consumers, and advocates resulted in the following improvements to the Governor’s original block grant proposal:
- The block grant is limited to 20 counties participating (it has been stated that at least 15 counties have expressed an interest in participating).
- The funds are appropriated through their existing separate budget lines and we hope that the DPW program offices will continue to provide policy guidance and regulatory oversight of as much as two-thirds of the $756 million.
- The original 20% is now a 10% cut, although the loss of $84 million in these important human service programs will certainly result in painful service reductions.
Summary of the block grant proposal as signed into law:
1. Allows for up to 20 counties to participate based on criteria that the department develops
2. Phased in over four years with limits placed upon how much money can be moved from one category to another
- During fy 2012-2013, participating counties can move up to 20% of the funding of any of the funding streams to expend for a different human service category (it is my understanding that counties can spend money on human services not represented in the identified funding streams). Just to be clear, only 80% of the current mental health base dollars (including CHIPP dollars) must be spent on mental health services/supports at the local level
- In fiscal year 2013-2014, the limit rises to 25%; in 2014-2015, the limit would be 50%; and in 2015-2016, 75%. After 2015-2016, there would be no limit place on participating counties
- Counties may request a waiver from the phase-in limits
3. The block grant program offers counties the opportunity to take up to 3 percent of their total block grant allocation and save it for use in the subsequent fiscal year. A waiver of the 3-percent limitation could also be sought under HB1261 by a participating county and could be granted by the department “upon good cause shown by the county.”
4. Participating counties will be required to develop plans for the expenditures of the block grant funding and delivery of the human services for which that funding is supplied. Those plans will be submitted to the department on an annual basis for review and approval. At least two public hearings must be held by a county on its proposed plan to afford affected communities to testify regarding the plan.
5. The department will also develop a process to monitor the counties’ administration of the block grant funding, including inspections and audits, at the department’s discretion, of the financial, operating and accounting records of any county agency or contracted entity that received block grant funding
6. The law requires the department to prepare an annual program performance report for the Legislature. The report will also be made available to the public on the department’s Internet website.
7. There is no sunset provision of the block grant program.
8. There is no external evaluation.
Summary of General Assistance (GA) Changes – changes that MHAPA believes will cause significant harm
1. The General Assistance (GA) cash assistance program will be eliminated August 1. It was scheduled for elimination on July 1 but a deal was worked out to delay implementation by one month.
2. Both the GA-related Categorically Needy Medical Assistance Program and the GA-related Medically Needy Only Medical Assistance Program will continue but House Bill 1261 – the welfare code bill – does expand the work requirements for some individuals to maintain their Medically Needy medical benefits: The parent of a child under 21 years of age must now meet the work requirements for the maintenance of the child’s benefits. Those requirements are altered to require the parent to verify employment of at least 100 hours per month, earning at least the minimum wage.
3. The bill expands the work requirements and enforcement language for individuals receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) benefits and food stamps:
- Individuals must apply for three jobs each week in order to maintain their benefits, until they secure employment of 20 hours per week;
- The suspension of full benefits – recipients continue to receive a reduced benefit – for non-compliance with the state’s employment and work-related activity requirements are altered to remain in effect, for the first violation, for at least 30 days and until the recipient demonstrates and maintains compliance for at least a one-week period. Once the suspension period reaches 90 days, the entire “family unit” is disqualified for benefits until the recipient has demonstrated compliance for at least a one-week period;
- For a second violation, the full benefit suspension period has been increased to at least 60 days and until the recipient demonstrates and maintains compliance for at least a one-week period. After the suspension reaches 60 days, the entire “family unit” is disqualified for benefits until the recipient demonstrates and maintains compliance for at least a one-week period;
- A third violation of the work requirements will result in the entire “family unit” being permanently disqualified
HB 1261 (PA-11R)–Voting Record
AYES – 102
Adolph(R); Aument(R); Baker, M(R); Barrar(R); Bear(R); Benninghoff(R); Bloom(R); Boback(R); Boyd(R); Brooks(R); Brown, R(R); Causer(R); Christiana(R); Clymer(R); Cox(R); Creighton(R); Culver(R); Cutler(R); Day(R); Delozier(R); Denlinger(R); Dunbar(R); Ellis(R); Emrick(R); Evankovich(R); Evans, J(R); Everett(R); Farry(R); Gabler(R); Geist(R); Gillen(R); Gillespie(R); Gingrich(R); Godshall(R); Grell(R); Grove(R); Hackett(R); Hahn(R); Harhart(R); Harper(R); Harris(R); Heffley(R); Helm(R); Hennessey(R); Hess(R); Hickernell(R); Hutchinson(R); Kampf(R); Kauffman(R); Keller, F(R); Keller, M(R); Killion(R); Knowles(R); Krieger(R); Lawrence(R); Mackenzie(R); Maher(R); Major(R); Maloney(R); Marshall(R); Marsico(R); Masser(R); Metcalfe(R); Metzgar(R); Micozzie(R); Millard(R); Miller(R); Milne(R); Moul(R); Mustio(R); O’Neill(R); Oberlander(R); Payne(R); Peifer(R); Perry(R); Petri(R); Pickett(R); Pyle(R); Quigley(R); Quinn(R); Rapp(R); Reed(R); Reese(R); Roae(R); Rock(R); Ross(R); Saccone(R); Saylor(R); Scavello(R); Simmons(R); Smith, S(R); Sonney(R); Stern(R); Stevenson(R); Swanger(R); Tallman(R); Tobash(R); Toepel(R); Toohil(R); Turzai(R); Vereb(R); Vulakovich(R)
NAYS – 91
Barbin(D); Bishop(D); Boyle, B(D); Boyle, K(D); Bradford(D); Brennan(D); Briggs(D); Brown, V(D); Brownlee(D); Burns(D); Buxton(D); Caltagirone(D); Carroll(D); Cohen(D); Conklin(D); Costa, D(D); Costa, P(D); Cruz(D); Curry(D); Daley(D); Davidson(D); Davis(D); DeLissio(D); DeLuca(D); DePasquale(D); Dean(D); Deasy(D); Dermody(D); DiGirolamo(R); Donatucci(D); Fabrizio(D); Frankel(D); Freeman(D); Galloway(D); Gerber(D); Gergely(D); Gibbons(D); Goodman(D); Hanna(D); Harhai(D); Harkins(D); Hornaman(D); James(D); Josephs(D); Kavulich(D); Keller, W(D); Kirkland(D); Kortz(D); Kotik(D); Kula(D); Longietti(D); Mahoney(D); Mann(D); Markosek(D); Matzie(D); McGeehan(D); Miccarelli(R); Mirabito(D); Mullery(D); Mundy(D); Murphy(D); Murt(R); Myers(D); Neilson(D); Neuman(D); Parker(D); Pashinski(D); Payton, Jr.(D); Petrarca(D); Preston(D); Ravenstahl(D); Readshaw(D); Roebuck(D); Sabatina(D); Sainato(D); Samuelson(D); Santarsiero(D); Schmotzer(D); Smith, K(D); Smith, M(D); Staback(D); Stephens(R); Sturla(D); Taylor(R); Thomas(D); Vitali(D); Waters(D); Wheatley(D); White, J(D); Williams, G.(D); Youngblood(D)
PRESENT-NOT-VOTING – 4
O’Brien, M(D); Santoni(D); Truitt(R); Watson(R)
ABSENT – 4
Evans, D(D); Fleck(R); George(D); Haluska(D)