United Way of Pennsylvania
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UWP Update - May 12, 2017
PA Afterschool Youth and Development Network Advocacy Day 
UWP's priority HB 211 voted from House Human Services committee 
 
PA 2-1-1 got a huge win this week! House Bill 211, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) was voted favorably, and unanimously, out of the House Human Services committee.  While HB 211 does not include a specified funding amount, it does set up the mechanism for a first-time public private partnership for 2-1-1 in PA.  It is our hope the state budget negotiations will yield a first-time investment of $1.5 million in statewide 2-1-1.  Although funding is not guaranteed, and we still have a ways to go in our fight, this bill moving from committee is a win and step in the right direction.  Several Representatives spoke on behalf of HB 211 and PA 2-1-1 during the committee meeting, including Rep. Aaron Kaufer, Rep. Mike Schlossberg, Rep. Cris Dush, and Rep. Eric Nelson. 

More advocacy will be needed throughout the budget, and as there is further movement on HB 211 or SB 211. For now, please thank those who supported the bill in committee and pat yourselves on the back for a job well done! 

UW's national policy team summary of federal budget 

Congressional leaders recently reached a deal on a Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 spending package to fund the federal government through September, averting a government shutdown. 

The spending package agreed to maintains funding and provides modest increases for most of United Way's appropriations priorities, continuing investments in health, education and financial stability programs. While most United Way priorities were funded, the package did not include funding for two programs, the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and Assets for Independence (AFI), the federal program for Individual Development Accounts.  You can read the full breakdown on the spending agreement, as well as the wins for United Way here

Please read some of the wins for United Way in the budget: 

EDUCATION
  • Head Start Programs will get an $85 million increase to $9.3 billion.
  • The Child Care and Development Block Grant will get a $95 million increase.
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the education program responsible for funding before- and after-school and out of school time programs, received a $25 million increase.
  • Full Service Community Schools was level-funded at $10 million.
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service receives $1.03 billion, a small cut from $1.09 billion in FY 2016. The package maintains funding for core national and community service programs, including $386 million for AmeriCorps grants and $202 million for Senior Corps programs, level with FY 2016.
FINANCIAL STABILITY
  • The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant program receives level funding at $15 million.
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs were mostly level-funded, including Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), adult education grants under Title II of WIOA, and Perkins career and technical education (CTE) state grants.
  • Housing programs were funded at or above FY16 levels. The bill increases funding for homeless assistance programs to $2.383 billion from $2.25 billion in FY16. The bill would level-fund the HOME Investments Partnerships program (HOME) at $950 million and the Community Development Block Grant program at $3 billion.
HEALTH
  • Opioid addiction programs is seen as one of the biggest bipartisan victories in the bill. There's $103 million specifically for opioid addiction reduction in addition to a $130.5 million increase for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. The bill also includes $30 million more for the Mental Health Block Grant, which helps states fund mental health programs for low income people.
  • The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is level funded at $120 million under title III of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
UWW will continue to keep the network updated on the developments of the federal budget and any advocacy you can participate in around these issues.  

April revenue collections point to growing budget deficit

The Department of Revenue released its report on the revenues collected for the commonwealth in April.  While April is typically the largest revenue collection month for the state, this year that was not the case. Revenues came in $537 million short of estimates.  This pushes the year-to-date revenue shortfall for FY2016-17 to $1.216 billion.  This is higher than the estimated projection deficit, of $1 billion, put forth by the Administration and IFO earlier this year. 

Among the shortfall in revenue for April, corporation tax revenues were $227.1 million, or 48.8 percent, below expectations. Compared to collections through April for the prior fiscal year, corporation tax collections are 12.4 percent less. The personal income tax collections were $181.5 million short, or 8.9 percent.  For the fiscal year-to-date, the personal income tax is $324.7 million off the projections.  Finally, the third big revenue generator, the sales and use tax (SUT) brought in $58.3 million, or 6.8 percent, less than expected for the month of April. Year-to-date the SUT is $190 million short of estimates.  April's General Fund collections were $227 million, or 6.2 percent, less than what was collected in April 2016.  

The PA Independent Fiscal Office released an updated analysis, noting that PA's job market is performing at expectations but wage growth has been weaker than expected. That is also the case for weaker business profits which are leading to weaker investments. The IFO attributed some of these factors to uncertainty about the potential changes to the federal tax code, but causes for weakness in consumer spending are not known. 
Afterschool programs advocacy day 

UWP participated in an advocacy day put on by the PA Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network this week.  We joined with over 200 participants to meet with legislators to educate and advocate on behalf of afterschool programs.  UWP recently included out-of-school time as a priority for the 2017-18 legislative session, as there has been countless research to show the positive impacts these programs have on youth, including to reduce the achievement gap.  

While there is no dedicated funding for PA afterschool programs, we do receive over $42 million from the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) initiative appropriated by the federal government.  These funds were threatened in the Trump Administration's proposed budget, and much of our work on the Hill was to make our state lawmakers aware of that threat and encourage their support ensuring those funds remain intact.  We will continue our work on out-of-school time and keep membership apprised of any advocacy they can participate in to help ensure PA's children have every available opportunity.  

REMINDER: UWP Conference Room Block ends May 21st 
UWP's annual conference is fast approaching and the room block will be ending on May 21st.  

This year's conference will take place at the Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort from June 21-23.  We have a great agenda, fantastic speakers, and fun activities planned for the group. Bring your staff, your board members, and volunteers to network and learn.  

To attend the full conference, the registration rate is $270.  You can use flex credits to get reimbursed for your travel expenses.  

Register for the conference here! Room block closes May 21, no exceptions.    

This will be another great conference and we hope you will all join us! 
Welcome new United Way Executives! 
UWP is happy to welcome two new Executives to the United Way network! United Way of Indiana County and the Lycoming County United Way have both recently hired new executives to fill vacated positions.  Please join us in welcoming Jane Lockard, United Way of Indiana County, and Ron Frick, of the Lycoming County United Way, to our team!

Jane began her duties at the beginning of May and has a long career full of experience to help her in her new role with United Way.  Prior to coming on board, Jane worked as the Director of Marketing and Business Development for the VNA of Indiana County.  Prior to that position, Jane spent over 20 years as the Executive Director for accessAbilities, Inc.  

Ron, new to his Executive role, is not new to work of United Way.  Ron has been involved with the Lycoming County United Way as a passionate and active volunteer since 1984 and chaired their leadership giving campaign.  Ron started as the Executive in late April, and will work with outgoing director Scott Lowery through a transition that will be complete on July 1.

Please join us in welcoming Jane and Ron to United Way and our network! 
Wolf Administration launches new website for proposed Health and Human Services department unification 

Earlier this year the Wolf Administration proposed a merger of the departments of Health, Human Services, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Aging into a new Department of Health and Human Services.   With little details initially, there were many questions as to how this merger would take place and what the new department would look like.   The Administration has decided to address these questions by creating an informational website on the department unification, www.governor.pa.gov/hhs

This new website offers various information to learn more about this initiative by reviewing the drafted legislation, explaining further the departments draft organizational charts, and giving the public the opportunity to comment on their ideas or concerns with the merger.  

Some of the key ways the Administration is showing an integrated agency can provide an easier way for Pennsylvania's citizens to interact with the commonwealth to obtain the services they need, include:
  • Enhancing state efforts to fight back against the heroin and opioid epidemic;
  • Bolstering senior benefits and programs;
  • Reducing complexity and confusion for senior s and those with disabilities; and
  • Reducing red tape for providers and nonprofits subject to regulations.
This website will continue to be updated as plans and/or implementation move forward.  However, the legislature must approve a merger of the four Departments, and this has been controversial among lawmakers.