Thursday, October 8, 2009

Final PA State Budget Passes in House - Senate Approval Expected

I received this in my PADLC listserv this morning from Glenn Miller, Executive Director of Pa LA. I appreciate his positive tone, but what a slash to library funding in our state of Pennsylvania. I hate to see what's coming out of this. Reposting here:

"Good morning, faithful library advocates

On the eve of Day 100 of the state budget impasse, a deal has been sealed…finally and without any further significant changes. The State House debated the final deal last night and passed it by a vote of 107-93. Easy passage in the Senate is expected since both Republicans and Democrats there already have signaled their support. The final Senate vote could occur Thursday evening or Friday. The Governor will sign the budget soon thereafter.

At some later point, we can re-hash the excruciating details of this never-ending roller-coaster of a budget. For now, I know that people are anxious to have the specifics, so here they are:

(Click picture for a larger view)

I hardly know where to begin to describe all this. I know that these end results will not be pleasant at all for library staff, for services, and for library users. At the same time, I also know we recognize—all of us—that this is the worst economy in Pennsylvania since the Great Depression and that state coffers lost a mind-numbing $3.2 billion in revenue just this past year.

We will work with Deputy Secretary Clare Zales to try and minimize the damage to statewide programs and begin planning to rebuild services and funding. The hit to the Public Library Subsidy was bad but not as severe as it could have been. We will also work with Clare Zales to see if it possible to accelerate the payment dates for state aid.

Looking at the big picture can be dangerous because it tends to mask the real pain of specific program cuts. Nevertheless, it is fair to note that during the eight months of this year’s budget roller coaster, our overall funding levels ranged from a potential highest total (all programs) of $81 million (Rendell/House Democratic plan) to a potential lowest total (all programs) of $42 million (Senate Republican plan.) In the end, fortunately, our overall funding of $68 million ended much closer to the higher number than the lower.

There is no doubt in my mind that the outcome would have been much, much worse had it not been for your relentless, positive, and articulate advocacy on behalf of your library and your community. We know that legislators heard our voices even in the face of this budget’s tidal wave of red ink. I realize that it may not feel like it right now, but your advocacy made a huge, positive difference. Thank you seems wholly inadequate.

But think about this: every program that we saved, every job that can be retained, and every budget dollar that was secured during this struggle puts us further down the road toward recovering from this recession-ravaged budget year.

Again, I truly appreciate all of your great and ceaseless efforts. Let’s do our best to rest some and recover and re-energize ourselves for better days ahead.

Glenn R. Miller
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association"

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