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UWP Update - June 22 , 2018
Attendees at UWP's annual conference enjoy a cruise on the Victorian Princess in Erie. Mark your calendars for 
June 5 -7, 2019 to join the fun in State College, PA. 
Bi-partisan budget deal getting ready to wrap up

A bipartisan budget deal is in place and working its way through the chambers to get on the Governor's desk before June 30th. This is actually the first time in about 15 years a budget deal has been agreed to and moved in such a timely fashion. 

The budget deal in place seems to be a win for both sides of the aisle, with the House passing the General Appropriations bill with an overwhelming majority of 188-10.  The bill is now being considered in the Senate, with a final vote to take place Friday. And Governor Wolf is on board too.  The agreed-to budget spends $32.7 billion and requires no additional revenues, also officially erasing the deficit. 

The headliner for United Ways in this budget is a continued state investment in PA 2-1-1 and increases in early childhood education.  The 2-1-1 funding had a big win in this year's budget, with its own line item under the Human Services section.  While the budget did not give UWP's ask of $1.5 million, it mirrored the investment from the 2017-18 budget of $750,000.  Senate Browne again championed the funding and did an excellent job of supporting the work 2-1-1 is doing across the commonwealth.  While there is still work to be done in the House, this is a step forward for UWP and PA 2-1-1 and a win for every supporter of the program!

Pennsylvania kids also were winners in this budget. Elected officials made an increased investment of $25 million to help thousands more children gain access to high quality Pre-K and Head Start programs. Funding for Pre-K Counts was increased by $20 million, and funding for Head Start Supplemental Assistance increased by $5 million. UWP supported the work of the Pre-K for PA coalition, as a principal partner this year, to advocate for an increase. Child care services also saw an increase of $6.8 million, which was discussed in the House Appropriations Committee to address the wait list of families trying to get their children enrolled in child care. In addition to the early childhood education money, basic education got an addition $100 million and a $30 million increase for career and technical education.  
 
Human services did see some cuts in this budget,all together approximately $13 million, with the exception of some increases for individuals  with intellectual disabilities, senior citizens and those with physical  disabilities. There is also some additional funding to address the opioid crisis our state is currently facing.  
 
All-in-all this budget deal was bipartisan and provides a lot of wins for the United Way network.  We will continue to monitor the process, as code bills still need to be passed, which will likely take place next week. 

UWP will be doing an in-depth review of the budget for our membership via a webinar on Friday, June 29th at 3pm.  You can register for the webinar here.  Please plan to attend to learn more about United Way's budget priorities, federal priorities, and how we can advocate as a network to support our policy work in the weeks to come.  

UWP Statewide 2018 Conference 
Wrap Up
UWP's 2018 Conference ended today at 12:00pm. As our members who attended head home, we want to thank them for attending our conference and making it successful. We also want to thank our sponsors and speakers for their efforts, because without them there would be no conference. 

The highlights of our conference focused on innovation and planning for the future. We ask each of our member United Ways to think what their organization will look like in 10 years and to start working toward that right now. 

If you attended the conference, please remember to do the following when you get back to the office: 
  • United Way of PA is asking members to give us feedback on our conference. Please fill out this survey and let us know what you thought!
  • If you are getting reimbursed with flex credits from United Way Worldwide, you will need to fill out this form. If you have any questions, please contact Amanda Barbarich at amanda@uwp.org or (717) 238-7365 x206
    • Flex credit reimbursement forms are due to United Way Worldwide by July 20, 2018
  • Conference presentations will be made available on the UWP Conference Website starting Tuesday, June 26th. 
Our 2019 statewide conference will be June 5th-7th at the Atherton Hotel in State College, PA! Please save the dates - we look forward to seeing you all there! 
 Farm Bill reauthorization update: Senate bill advances which protects SNAP! 

SNAP plays a large role in our communities and the work United Ways do to ensure financial stability and food security for every Pennsylvanian.  UWP is closely working with United Way Worldwide and others to monitor and influence the progress of SNAP in the Farm Bill reauthorization. 

To recap, a few weeks ago the House voted on their version of the bill which had significant negative impacts to SNAP. As drafted, it would take away food assistance from many Americans, including children, seniors and veterans. Specifically, the bill included cuts to SNAP benefits, particularly for low-income working families with children, as well as additional work requirements for eligibility. While it did fail on the House floor, it was passed out of the House Agriculture Committee. The House will bring this bill back up for a vote in the coming days or weeks. Without serious improvements to the current drafted language, this bill will be detrimental to SNAP and the nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians who rely on the program for food security.

In a stark contrast, the Senate introduced their version of the Farm Bill that is a bipartisan piece of legislation with no damaging SNAP changes. It largely protected SNAP and did not impose additional work requirements. This version was passed by  the Senate Agricultural Committee in mid-June almost unanimously. It is expected to go to the Senate floor for a vote by the end of June.

While the Senate version of the farm bill is in line with United Way's efforts to protect SNAP, the House version is a dangerous bill that will have significant negative impacts to Pennsylvanians. We must keep up the fight to protect SNAP! 

Please share our updates with your network of donors, volunteers, and communities. You can help us collect stories to share with legislators when we are in D.C. advocating to protect SNAP. These stories help us put a face to many Pennsylvanians using SNAP and our real-life examples of how beneficial this temporary assistance is to so many. Also, please share our call-to-action to reiterate the importance of SNAP to our communities and the work United Ways are doing!

House Bill 2429, pay day lending legislation, lacks support for a committee vote 

A recently-introduced piece of legislation, House Bill 2429, that would weaken Pennsylvania's payday lending laws, has been on UWP's radar for the last few weeks. This legislation would allow for payday lenders to pose as loan brokers in order to charge unlimited broker fees, essentially driving up the cost of the loan. The bill would not consider these broker fees as interest, thus creating a loophole to evade Pennsylvania's interest rate caps.
 
You may be aware that Pennsylvania has some of the strongest laws to guard against payday lending in the country. These laws put a cap on the amount of fees and interest a lender can charge. This has saved Pennsylvanians a significant amount of money and prevented debt traps. House Bill 2429 would compromise these strong laws.
 
UWP has been working with a number of other organizations who are against payday loans to stop this legislation from making it to a vote in the Commerce Committee. UWP put out an opposition memo and met with the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Brian Ellis, to voice our concerns. With continued effort from a variety of organizations, we are happy to announce the bill has been pulled from a committee vote, as there were not enough votes to get it out of committee. There were a number of R's against the legislation which ultimately killed the bill.
 
Prohibiting payday lending in Pennsylvania is a policy priority for UWP as it contradicts the great work our United Ways are doing to move people along a path to financial stability in their communities. We will continue to be vigilant with any legislation introduced that may impact our strong laws against pay day lending and keep members updated with actions they may take should another threat be introduced.


Allied Against Opioid Abuse

United Way of Pennsylvania has signed on as a supporter of the "Allied Against Opioid Abuse" campaign. AAOA is a national, partner-based initiative, established to provide education and awareness to prevent abuse and misuse of opioids.

The campaign focuses on education about a patient's rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioids. Here is a fact sheet available to the public to learn more, and the web site is https://againstopioiodabuse
.org.   

The campaign will be planning a number of awareness and education events across the state. United Way of PA will keep our network apprised when something is happening in your area. 


PA's unemployment rate drops again in May

The unemployment rate dropped again for the month of May, to 4.5 percent. This is the second month in a row Pennsylvania's unemployment rate went down. Most of this decline is due to Pennsylvanians leaving the workforce. For this year, there are 35,000 fewer people working compared to a year ago.

While we are seeing a decline in unemployment in the commonwealth, our unemployment rate is still above the national rate, which went down to 3.8 percent. That puts Pennsylvania at a tie for the 39th highest unemployment rate in the nation, with only 10 other states having higher rates.

Employers in Pennsylvania reported adding a total of 2,300 jobs between April and May. Our state's goods-producing industries reported positive results, with construction in the lead, adding 1,900 jobs. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector added 1,800 jobs, while the education and health services sector reported losses of 1,900 jobs. Although the state is not adding a significant amount of jobs, currently we are 78,200 jobs ahead of where we were last year. That is an annual growth rate of 1.25 percent, which puts Pennsylvania 31st in the country for year-over-year job growth rate.


 


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