Ward Proposes Legislation for State to Honor Existing Contracts

(Greensburg, PA) State Senator Kim Ward (R-Hempfield) is preparing to introduce legislation to safeguard contracted social service funding during any future budget impasse.

Ward has begun seeking support for her proposal that would require the executive branch to honor contracts for “essential social service programs” including but not limited to domestic violence programs, day care centers and mental health/mental retardation programs during any future budget impasse.

“This is not about judging particular programs…this is about our obligation to honor contracts we signed,” Ward said.

“It is awful that these services and the people they help are being held captive by a budget dispute they did not create. Governor Ed Rendell is using a ‘misery’ tactic to force an increase in taxes. It’s wrong. This change would end that threat by this and future governors,” she said.

Ward’s proposal would require the relevant departments to pay existing contracts and programs as long as there was money in the General Fund to do so. Presently, the lack of a budget prohibits this spending under current law, although there is money available.

“With this, families across Pennsylvania and people in need of help won’t be at risk during any future budget disputes,” she said.

Ward said what was needed was wholesale reform of the budget process including a Constitutional Convention.

Below is the co-sponsorship memo sent to all State Senators.

TO: All Senators

FROM: Senator Kim Ward

SUBJECT: Co-Sponsorship of Legislation – Interim Funding for Essential Social Service Programs during a Budget Impasse – Memo #13

I plan to introduce legislation that would establish the “Emergency Essential Social Services Fund” to provide interim funding for essential social service programs during a budget impasse.

The legislation would establish the “Emergency Essential Social Services Fund” in the State Treasury.  If the budget is not enacted by July 15, the State Treasurer shall periodically transfer unappropriated, unrestricted available General Fund moneys, to the “Emergency Essential Social Services Fund”.   If the Governor fails to certify revenue estimates for the current fiscal year, the Secretary of Revenue shall certify to the State Treasurer each time a transfer is needed that there are adequate funds to make the transfer.

The payments shall be made in the same amount as the previous year to existing essential social service programs including but not limited to: domestic violence programs, day care centers and mental health and mental retardation programs.  Payments would be adjusted pursuant to the program’s appropriation in the enacted budget.

If you would like to co-sponsor this legislation, please contact Tiffany Stimmell in my office at 717-787-6063 or by email at tstimmell@pasen.gov.