PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Gov. Ed Rendell’s budget cuts threat the health and safety of citizens, dozens of nonprofit agencies say. Rendell used line-item vetoes to cut $12.9 billion from the $23.9 billion in the state’s 2009 Appropriations Act, including “the entire appropriations for juvenile child welfare services, foster care and adoption services, base-funded community IDD services, autism intervention services, community mental health services and drug and alcohol services,” according to the federal complaint.
Lead plaintiff NHS Youth Services runs child welfare and juvenile justice programs. Its fellow plaintiffs include Tabor’s Children Services, which offers a range of services, including adoption, foster care and in-home care; Wordsworth Academy, which runs a private school and also provides mental health and education for residents and outpatients; and the Philadelphia Alliance, a professional society representing more than 40 agencies.
They claim Rendell has refused to approve appropriations already passed by the state General Assembly, money the groups say is “necessary to fund the provision of state and federal mandated child welfare and adult behavioral health services to Commonwealth citizens in need of and eligible for those services.”
Rendell used line-item vetoes to whack $12.9 billion of the $23.9 billion authorized by the state’s General Appropriations Act of 2009 (Senate Bill 850), when he signed it into law on Aug. 5.
The plaintiffs point out that Rendell “made few cuts to the appropriations for the Governor’s Office, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Auditor General’s Office or the State Court System” and that he preserved ” payment for the salary and benefits of … thousands of (state) employees who are not responsible for providing services essential to preserving and protecting the health and safety of at risk children and adults.”
They say Rendell “vetoed the entire appropriations for juvenile child welfare services, foster care and adoption services, base-funded community IDD services, autism intervention services, community mental health services and drug and alcohol services.”
Plaintiffs say Rendell’s budget cuts are unconstitutional. Their lead counsel is Joseph Kelley III with Kelley & Murphy.