Wolf, GOP continue to spar over payments to social services

Provided/ Maura B. McConnell

Republican state legislators said they will try on Tuesday to override Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget veto in an effort to make sure social service agencies that care for the state’s most vulnerable children get paid.

“You have to do what’s right for agencies and taxpayers that need state assistance,” said state Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, who is the ranking member of the House appropriations committee.

Conservative lawmakers have been sparring with Wolf since July when the governor vetoed the GOP’s entire $30 billion spending proposal. That set the stage for a budget impasse.

Wolf guaranteed that essential state services would continue during the impasse. That means police and prison guards got paid.

Related:Belt tightening hits Pa. social service providers.

Social service agencies who often take in children who have been neglected by parents or removed by court order were not on the list, leaving non-profits across the state worried that they will have to borrow huge sums to care for the needy in hope of getting paid with a budget is finally passed.

That has angered many providers, who see the work they do as an essential state service, said Bernadette Bianchi, executive director of the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Service. per fact that has angered many providers.

“It really does amount to failure to pay child support for these children,” said Bianchi.

Republicans need to pick-off the votes of 15 Democratic House members to override the governor’s veto, a move that would damage party unity and be widely interpreted as a significant blow to Wolf.

In a statement Thursday, Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said the “governor’s proposed budget commits $27.9 million dollars to county-run human services as the first step to fully restoring all of the cuts enacted by Chairman Adolph and his Republican colleagues over three years. The budget passed by Chairman Adolph and his Republican colleagues is detrimental to human services and continues the damaging cuts they enacted over the past four years.”

Related:There’s a budget fight in Harrisburg.

Agencies that provide addiction counseling and support to the developmentally disabled are also seeing funding streams dry up. Representatives of the agencies have said they believe that they will be paid for the services they render during the budget stalemate once a spending bill is passed. In the meantime, they have begun borrowing money to pay bills, but worry that they will not get paid for interest charges they incur.

Wolf, who ran for office amid huge dissatisfaction for GOP Gov. Tom Corbett’s cuts to education, has sought a $400 million increase in state funding for schools. Speaking on Thursday, Adolph said the GOP leadership had agreed to that increase. In return, they want Wolf agree to their demands to reform the state’s underfunded pension plan, a move vigorously opposed by state employee unions.

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