United Way of Pennsylvania
UWP Update - October 13, 2017

UWP becomes eleventh principal partner of the Pre-k for PA campaign

UWP is honored to join the Pre-K for PA campaign as a principal partner to ensure every Pennsylvania child has access to high-quality pre-k programs. 

United Ways throughout Pennsylvania fight for the education of every child, in every community.  It is our priority to ensure all children have access to high-quality, and affordable early learning so they are prepared to enter Kindergarten. We are proud to join the campaign's team of principal partners to help increase access for Pennsylvania's children.

Research proves the impacts access to high-quality pre-k has on our children. Positive outcomes of high quality early childhood education include reducing the need for special education and remedial instruction, increasing the likelihood of graduation and college enrollment, and decreasing dropout rates, crime and incarceration.  However, high-quality pre-k is not accessible to many of Pennsylvania's young learners. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 300,000 3- and 4-year-olds, but too few of these children are enrolled in high quality pre-k, and many of those missing out are those at greatest risk of academic failure. Approximately 112,900 of PA's eligible children do not have access to high quality Pre-K. 

UWP, along with the Pre-K for PA campaign, is committed to making sure all of PA's eligible children gain access to pre-k so our children have a future full of success.  
Advocate to protect charitable tax incentives and working family tax credits

Although you may not have the opportunity to connect with your members of Congress on a brief mid-October district work week, United Way of Pennsylvania and United Way Worldwide encourage everyone to get familiar with the issues and consider how you can lend a voice to support advocacy on these topics.

The President's tax plan outline jeopardizes billions in charitable giving across the country. Although it maintains a charitable deduction for those who itemize, by doubling the standard deduction, the number of people who itemize will be greatly reduced, and so too will the population who realizes tax benefits of charitable giving. One simple solution for Congress to show their commitment to the fundamental American value of charity is to move the charitable deduction "above the line". This would allow every tax filer to reduce their annual income by the amount of their charitable contribution.

United Way online now houses a tax reform hub, which includes background on various tax reform proposals, headlines relevant to United Way's advocacy campaign, and advocacy resources which include op ed templates, social media images and messages. United Way has a charitable giving action request which any board member, volunteer or member of the public can use to contact their elected officials in support of making sure the charitable tax incentive is available to everyone. Find it here: https://www.unitedway.org/get-involved/take-action/fight-for-charities .

You can also use this link to engage your community in advocacy to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. https://www.unitedway.org/get-involved/take-action/fight-for-charities.

November will offer another opportunity for tax issue advocacy in the district while Congress is on recess from November 21-24. Please schedule meetings with your elected officials. UWP will hold a webinar to help members prepare for visits and support other advocacy strategies.
CHIP Reauthorization update - PA among ten states who will run out of funding before end of 2017  

As many of you are aware, CHIP expired as of September 30th.  A reauthorization is required for funding to continue for CHIP, which covers approximately 9 million children nationally.  While the lack of reauthorization is very concerning for United Ways and many other organizations, there has been some movement recently in Congress.  Both the Senate and House have passed reauthorization bills out of committee.  Both reauthorize CHIP for an additional 5 years and allow for high-level funding for the first three years.  While this is a step in the right direction, the legislation must be finalized.  Both chambers are unwilling to put up the reauthorization as a stand-alone piece of legislation, and would instead like to attach the legislation to a spending proposal.  This can delay the reauthorization significantly, should a spending bill not come to fruition for several weeks. 

The lack of reauthorization has a great impact on Pennsylvania.  We are one of ten states whose CHIP funding runs out by the end of the year.  That means, by law, PA must begin sending out cancellation notices to those enrolled in CHIP starting November 1.  Additionally, beginning December 1 enrollment will be closed and continued funding will be frozen.  You may be hearing from those in your community reliant upon CHIP when these notices begin going out.  UWP and UWW will continue to monitor any developments and keep membership informed.  UWW is planning another CHIP call-to-action in the coming two-weeks, which will be passed along to membership.  We encourage your participation in this!

For any additional questions, please contact Maggie (maggie@uwp.org).

Federal consumer protections against predatory short-term loans strengthened, but PA law is still stronger

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a rule change this past week to help protect against payday lenders. The rule was set to stop payday debt traps by requiring lenders to determine whether people can afford to repay their loans, prior to lending them money. This rule includes payday loans, auto title loans, deposit advance products, and longer-term loans with balloon payments. The CFPB rule also limits a lender's ability to attempt to take payments from a borrower's bank account.  

If you are unaware of what payday loans are, they are typically small-dollar amounts with annual percentage rates that are usually over 300 percent. Fortunately, Pennsylvania already has one of the strongest laws in the country to protect against predatory lending, with a cap on fees and interest for consumer loans that has effectively kept high-cost payday lenders at bay. 
UWP will continue to watch for any efforts to change state laws that protect consumers from predatory payday lending, and what the CFPB may put forth to continue to strengthen the ability to fight against payday lenders. To learn more about the rule put forth by the CFPB, please view this article.  
PA revenues go in a positive direction to start the fiscal year

While there remain plenty of reasons to be concerned about an incomplete state budget, year to date revenue collections are up over last year at this time. As of the end of September, collections for the month exceeded the prior year by about $92 million, or 3.5 percent. Total General Fund collections are about $25 million higher than the Independent Fiscal Office's (IFO) estimate for the first quarter. By contrast, in September last year, the state was running about $218 million short of the official estimate.

The IFO-anticipated growth rate for 2017-2018 was 2.8 percent, but year to date collections have resulted in a growth rate of 4.8 percent. Nontax revenue accounts for most of this improvement. Personal income and sales and use tax revenues are ½ of a percent, and .8 percent behind expectations, respectively. Below- estimate collections in nearly every tax category were offset by corporate net income tax collections which were 6.6 percent higher than anticipated.  

PA Chamber economic survey: Employers are optimistic as many businesses are growing, but healthcare is the top concern

Pennsylvania businesses are expressing optimism about the business climate, and expect growth in future sales and hiring. However, they are also troubled by uncertainty about being able to provide healthcare to their employees, due to increased costs, and uncertainty in the insurance market. This according to the Pennsylvania Chamber's 27th annual economic survey conduct by an external polling and research group.

Sixty-five percent of the respondents said healthcare policy and controlling costs should be a top concern for the state Chamber's policy work. More employers are providing health care than last year, but still less than the number of employers who offered health care in 2013. Three-quarters of the respondents believe the state's economy is better or the same than it was a year ago. Only about 10 percent said the economy is their number one issue, and the Chamber reported that's the lowest rate since before the 2008-2009 recession. A little less than half of respondents expect their sales to increase, about a quarter expect to hire more workers, and 27 percent have made major investments in machinery or technology in the last year.

Barriers to growth were also noted by respondents: over-taxation; mandates and regulations; and workforce development.

The entire survey is available here.

Chronicle of Philanthropy data analysis points to changes in Americans' giving

Although the amount of money donated to charity has been increasing since 2005, it appears that fewer people are giving. This is the conclusion of the Chronicle of Philanthropy's recently-published reports which show the percent of itemizers who made charitable donations is down to 24 percent. Also, fewer people are itemizing their taxes today. 

About a decade ago, the Chronicle's analysis showed that about 30 percent of itemizers were giving to charity. Today, wealthier people are giving more, with those who earn $100,000 or more representing three-quarters of all itemized deductions, and those who earn $200,000 or more representing a little more than half of those. 

In Pennsylvania, people who earn more than $200,000 and itemize their deductions represent 47 percent of all the Pennsylvania giving. Giving per itemizer is down 7 percent from 2012.