Op/ed: Heroes of budget impasse recognized

 When Governor Wolf and the state legislature were unable to reach a state budget agreement by July 1, 2015, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lost its authority to spend funds for crucial programs and services. These included critical social needs such as child welfare and protective services, aging, mental health, intellectual disabilities, substance-abuse treatment and prevention, homeless assistance, food programs and lottery-funded transportation.

Chester County relies on human services agencies to meet these crucial social needs. Many of our citizens would have been harmed had programs and services been halted while payments were withheld because of the state budget impasse. Given our county government’s financial strength, we were able to provide substantial interim funding to human services agencies throughout the second half of 2015. A large number of counties across the state were not able help with ongoing payments.

But even with our financial support, many human services agencies were forced to make difficult decisions. They protected their clients – our vulnerable citizens – by tapping savings accounts, borrowing funds, reducing or suspending payments to their own vendors, limiting staff travel, laying off or reducing hours of employees, or reducing hours of operation in their efforts to ensure clients felt no harm.

The actions of so many within the human services sector have not gone unnoticed by us. This week we passed a resolution formally acknowledging Chester County human services agencies for their exemplary commitment and selfless sacrifice in maintaining service to Chester County residents whose needs transcend the political landscape of budget adoption. They focused on service delivery despite the extreme and egregious difficulties created by the state budget impasse. They are true heroes, and we thank them all.

Chester County Board of Commissioners:

Terence Farrell, Kathi Cozzone, Michelle Kichline

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