By Tim Collins
Valerie Case was talking to a military veteran last week who received notice from the state Department of Public Welfare that his “General Assistance” monthly cash payment of $215 was being terminated. The vet, who had recently applied for Social Security disability benefits, was happy — thinking the state was cutting him off because Social Security had ruled in his favor.
Social Security still hadn’t come to a decision.
But Pennsylvania had, and the vet — and nearly 70,000 other Pennsylvanians who count on the monthly stipend — are being cut off.
The budget, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett last night, eliminated the $150 million General Assistance program, which since the Great Depression has provided cash assistance to single people. The program was initially slated to end today, July 1, but Democrats won a one-month delay so the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare can notify recipients.
As the governor tells people that the state cannot afford welfare payments, he has given a massive $250 mil tax subsidy to the horse racing industry, that goes along with subsidies that corporations and the oil and gas industries receive from the state. The state also voted in pay raises for themselves for doing a good job. The governor’s approval rating is at 36% and expected to fall even deeper as Pennsylvanians are faced with tough choices regarding personal finance.
“I work hard for my family, but we do get food stamps and cash assistance from the state. I’m not some lazy person sitting around all day.” said one man who didn’t want to be identified.
“They paint us all as lazy, I have three kids to feed and bills to pay. I worked at a plant that shut down. I’m making minimum wage now. My wife has MS, but still works a few hours a week as a receptionist. This money is a small lifeline for us. The governor has shown that he doesn’t care about the working class.” he said.
The cuts will go into effect next month with some predicted economic faliures as a result.
“People used that money for things that they needed, with it gone, they will have less money to spend and local economies will suffer the brunt.” said Mike Stenz, an economist.
“The governor has forgotten who elected him, he seems preoccupied with protecting corporate interests and not the interests of his constituents.” Stenz added.
As governor, Corbett maintains that Pennsylvania should not tax the natural gas industry. In February 2011, Corbett repealed a four month old policy regulating natural gas drilling (including hydraulic fracturing) in park land, deeming it “unnecessary and redundant” according to a spokesperson. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party called the repeal a “payoff” to oil and gas interests which donated a million dollars to Corbett’s campaign. According to Corbett, “had they not given me a dime, I would still be in this position, saying we need to grow jobs in Pennsylvania”.
On February 14, 2012, Corbett signed The Marcellus Shale Law (House Bill 1950). The law changes the zoning laws applicable to Marcellus Shale well drilling, which is more commonly known as hydraulic fracturing. Some of its provisions are that all municipalities must allow Marcellus Shale well drilling in all zoning districts, including residential and municipalities may not limit hours of operation. Water and wastewater pits must also be allowed in all zoning districts, including residential. Compressor stations must be allowed in industrial and agricultural zoning districts and towns may not limit hours of operation. Gas processing plants are allowed in industrial zoning districts and hours of operation cannot be limited. Gas pipelines must be allowed in all zoning districts, including residential. The law helps gain access to land for new pipelines, one of which will transport natural gas from Pennsylvania to export terminals in Maryland, from which it will be shipped to Europe and Asia. Others contend that the pipeline’s purpose is to transport the gas to Maryland and D.C. markets. There are also concerns that exporting natural gas will result in more jobs going overseas, leading to increased unemployment in Pennsylvania and other states as gas prices rise globally.
The Marcellus Shale Law (House Bill 1950) also contains a provision that allows doctors in Pennsylvania access to the list of chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluid in emergency situations only, but forbids them from discussing this information with their patients. The information can only be used for emergency medical treatment, and the doctor must immediately verbally agree to keep the information confidential and later sign a document to that effect.The bill also reduces the legal responsibility of vendors, service providers, and operators regarding the identity and impact of contents of the hydraulic fracturing fluid they use.
The governor is having a tough time hiding his misdeeds from the prying eyes of citizens. We are currently conducting massive research into Governor Corbett with the hope of exposing corruption and greed.
We are also investigating an interesting link between the governor and the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.
- PA Health Co. Seeks Facts On Gas Drilling (revolutioninmedia.com)
- Pa. lawmakers OK drilling delay in SE Pa. basin (sfgate.com)
- Corbett begins PR effort for refinery tax credit – Bloomberg Businessweek (businessweek.com)
- Analysis: Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to give tax break for Shell refinery raises questions about jobs (pennlive.com)
- Homeless and losing hope (timesleader.com)
- Pa. Senate OKs budget, Corbett’s ethane tax credit (goerie.com)
- Corbett Signs Budget (gantdaily.com)
- Pa. to end program that ‘saved my life,’ man says (timesleader.com)