County workers, others protest state budget impasse

PA Budget Protest in Beaver Falls
PA Budget Protest in Beaver Falls

By: J.D. Prose –

Beaver County Times
BEAVER FALLS — Tina Shannon’s small, home-based day-care business has only six children, but five of them are no longer being subsidized because the state has yet to pass a budget.

“The parents are real concerned,” said Shannon, owner of Shannon’s Brown Bear Daycare in New Brighton.

On Tuesday, she joined about 60 Beaver County human services employees and service providers from noon to 1 p.m. as they protested the lack of a state budget and the growing impact on county residents who receive assistance.

“The issue is not just pass a budget,” Shannon said. “It’s pass a budget that we can live with.”

Standing along Seventh Avenue in front of the county’s human services building, protesters waved signs with messages such as “Your family is our concern” and “Pass the Budget,” and cheered as passing motorists honked their horns in support.

Last week, county commissioners, who also attended the rally, notified workers in Children and Youth Services, the Office on Aging, Beaver County Behavioral Health and Childcare Information Services that there could be layoffs in 30 days if the state does not pass a budget in the next few weeks.

Commissioners Chairman Tony Amadio said the state owes the county $698,000 for child-care costs the county has subsidized so far. Beaver County is paying employees, but has stopped providing money to subsidize day-care services, he said.

Day-care centers across the state that care for subsidized children have been slashing costs and jobs to stay open until a budget is approved.

“We need our human services open for the people of Beaver County,” said Gwen Feitt, a CYS legal assistant from Beaver. “I never thought it would come down to this.”

Darcy Stiteler of the Beaver County Early Care and Education Council said the Pre-K Counts program for 3- and 4-year-olds has been reduced from 180 children to 20 because of the state budget stalemate.

Commissioner Joe Spanik told protesters that there’s now talk that a state budget might not pass until around Thanksgiving. “This should not happen in today’s society,” he said.

“The state Legislature and the governor should be fined for not passing a budget by July,” Commissioner Charlie Camp said. “It’s just not right.”

After about 40 minutes, protesters decided to march a block up Seventh Avenue to state Rep. Jim Marshall’s district office. Marshall, R-14, Big Beaver, was in the district Tuesday, but had left for lunch by the time protesters arrived.

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