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Pennsylvania Government Jobs Affected Locally

While Pennsylvania government jobs are seeing an increase from last year, state budget cuts could affect jobs with smaller community governments.

Pennsylvania’s government industry employed 746,600 workers during November of 2008, according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is down from 748,600 workers in October but an increase of .4 percent from last year.

The County Commissioners Association recently met in Hershey, Pa. to discuss the fact that state budget cuts could begin to affect people’s jobs, according to an article by The Clarion News.

“Our message to state leaders is simple yet very crucial: Please do your part to fund mandates,” Dave Coder, CCAP president and Greene County Commissioner, said in the article. “Stop forcing local property owners to ‘bail out’ the state by passing costs down to the local level.”

Counties are usually the primary service provider on behalf of the state when it comes to administering human services, judicial services, corrections, elections, emergency management and 9-1-1, planning, economic development and job training, record keeping and other programs.

Some people feel the state has failed to comply with Act 57 of 2005, which requires counties to employ a full-time district attorney, with the state reimbursing counties 65 percent of the salary.

“Zero dollars were appropriated to fund the state’s district attorney salary obligation for 2008,” Coder noted. “Statewide, this means county taxpayers must ante more than $100,000 extra dollars per county to fund the commonwealth’s budget obligation.

“This hit counties mid-year in their 2008 budgets, causing counties to reallocate funds from other critical programs this year,” he continued. “This omission is also making development of our 2009 budgets needlessly difficult. We had rightly presumed the commonwealth would live up to its statutory obligation, but it has not.”

Some people also feel Pennsylvania has continued to under fund its human services programs, which are mandated, and pass the costs along to local governments.

“In the spring, we stood at this very same spot as we stand today, and we warned that counties stood one step away from a domino fiscal effect where an economic downturn could prompt an increased demand for human services- substance abuse services, the abused child or neighbor with mental illness,” Coder added.

“The current state of our economy has brought that increased demand, and the dominoes are not falling in the taxpayers’ favor,” he continued. “The state has touted its budget cuts as a responsible step to avert a larger state fiscal crisis, but behind those cuts are the real programs that serve Pennsylvania ’s people in need. While the need continues, the funding slows and counties have to find a way to serve the need.”