DPW sends out general assistance cut off notices - ahead of budget vote

Oops. The Corbett administration commits a wee budget week faux pas.

The Department of Public Welfare issued letters this week to 70,000 Pennsylvanians who receive General Assistance benefits telling them they would no longer receive any aid as of July 1, 2012.

The only problem? The elimination of the $150 million program that was proposed by Corbett in his budget address in February has yet to become official.

"That should not have gone out until the budget was passed," said a chagrined Corbett spokesman, Kevin Harley, when asked about the letters this afternoon. "They were being too efficent." 

Harley said he wasn't even sure if the funding would be pulled on July 1 or at some point in the future.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) called the move an act of "arrogance" that only serves to "scare people about something that has not yet occurred."

"Did the governor take your vote for granted? asked Rep. Steve Samuelson (D., Northampton) on the House floor, during the budget debate minutes ago. "Is the decision a done deal? In the rush to eliminate benefits did the administration overlook the budget process?"

General Assistance is temporary emergency funding that provides $205 a month to disabled people and victims of domestic violence to help them cover housing and other costs. Advocates for low-income residents say the program's elimination will force thousands of people on the streets and further stress already overburdened shelters.

More on the GA funding threat from our Inquirer colleague Miriam Hill in today's Inquirer.



Click here for Philly.com's politics page.