In Midst of Cuts, PA Group Calls for Even More ‘Welfare Reform’
Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed cutting $470 million in cuts to the Dept. of Public Welfare, including $300 million from the General Assistance Program. He also proposed 20 percent in cuts to state universities and 30 percent from state-related universities. Eighty-nine thousand kids have been cut from Medicaid benefits. The cuts have drawn ire from liberals and Democrat critics across the state who have insisted the cuts are too deep and will hurt the poor.
But at least one official group disagrees with that assessment. And they claim to have the numbers to back it up. We’re going to present it without comment. According to a new report released today by the Commonwealth Foundation, a libertarian think tank based out of Harrisburg, welfare spending makes up 40 cents of every tax dollar, and it’s not helping all that much.
“This year, welfare exceeds education as the largest department in the state General Fund for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth,” reads the report’s summary. “More importantly, increases in welfare spending outpace personal income and state tax revenue growth. In other words, welfare spending is growing faster than our economy. Medicaid alone consumes 31% of Pennsylvania’s total operating budget, higher than every other state in the nation but one.”
In the last 10 years, welfare spending has increased 52 percent, according to the report, even though poverty rates have increased since 2000.
Therefore, says the group, Pennsylvania needs further independence from the federal government in dealing with its welfare program. They suggest enforcing eligibility standards for welfare programs, performance-based budgeting, restructuring Medicaid as a voucher system and establishing limits on benefits.
When citizens lashed out at Gov. Corbett for his food stamp asset test a few weeks back, the CF supported it wholeheartedly, citing rampant abuse within the system. The Department of Public Welfare says an asset test would only affect 2 percent of food stamp recipients. “Secretary of Welfare Gary Alexander is working to improve things for both the taxpayers and the poor,” writes CF head Matt Brouillette, “but Pennsylvania lawmakers must take on the task of overhauling the welfare system.”