Elected officials, community groups, and advocates will hold a community forum to discuss the impact that the proposed budget cuts to critical state programs will have on the Lehigh Valley. The event will take place on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM at the Fowler Family Southside Center, located at 511 East Third Street in Bethlehem.  PA Representatives Doug Reichley, Steve Samuelson, Joe Brennan and Bob Freeman will respond to local residents’ stories about how the proposed budget cuts will negatively impact the quality of life in the Lehigh Valley.

At a budget briefing on March 15, Lehigh Valley community leaders came together to talk about the proposed cuts to human services, education, and community development programs.  At that meeting, the group determined that the priorities demonstrated by the proposed budget are misdirected and will fail to meet the needs of the community.  The “Forum to Promote the General Welfare” will be an opportunity for those affected by the cuts to speak directly with their representatives, have their questions answered, and express their hopes for a budget that better addresses the needs of a civil society.

Governor Corbett’s proposed state budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year includes cuts to programs that help build strong communities.  For example:  The Homeowner Emergency Assistance Program, a foreclosure assistance program, is eliminated.  The Human Service Development Fund, a flexible block grant that helps local government provide services for low-income people, is also eliminated.  The Department of Community and Economic Development, which administers programs that create jobs and build viable communities, is cut by 31%.  Many community leaders fear that these programs will be more severely cut during budget negotiations in the upcoming weeks in order to restore funding to education.  Organizers of the forum believe severe cuts to any one of these programs will impact the greater community and stand united for a fair and balanced budget.

About the name of the forum: advocates for a more responsible budget expect legislators to attempt more cuts to human services and community development in order to restore funding for education.   These legislators are expected to denigrate such programs by using the term “welfare,” a term many regard as derogatory and used to diminish support for these programs.  Advocates find the approach to be cynical and ignorant of our history, reminding us that our Founding Fathers used the term in one of the most important documents of our establishment as a new, independent nation.

We absolutely MUST produce a show of force to our legislators tomorrow.  We have lined up a terrific array of people who can speak from the perspective of receiving services and the impact the loss of such services will have on their lives.  Please make your best effort to attend.
 
We truly are all in this together!