For some nonprofits, signed budget yet to deliver signed check


Although Gov. Ed Rendell and the Pennsylvania State Legislature signed the state budget on Oct. 9, the crisis continues for some nonprofits that have yet to receive overdue state funding.

Northshore Community Alliance Executive Director Carol Washington said that 75 percent of her total operating budget comes from state money, and that she has yet to receive a check.

“The public has a misconception about the fact that budget was signed,” Washington said. “That means nothing to an agency until we receive a check.”

Other agencies that rely on state funding, like Life Pittsburgh, received checks even through the budget impasse.

Joann Gago, the senior center’s executive director said her organization was not affected much by the crisis. Although payments came in late every month, she said, they did come in.

“We didn’t experience the same terrible feeling,” Gago said. “I assume it will go back to normal. Really, we should be fine.”

Elizabeth Kupchinsky, a spokesperson from the Pennsylvania Treasury, said that some organizations received payments during the impasse for three main reasons, but because of how the system works it was impossible to tell why any one particular organization was paid while another was not.

Some payments from the 2008-9 fiscal year were processed and sent out after July 1, when the new fiscal year officially began, Kupchinsky said.

Another reason payments were made between July 1 and Oct. 9 is that some federal funding gets channeled through the state, and that money was dispersed as it was received.

The governor also signed a stopgap budget on August 5 so that state workers and critical health care providers could continue their jobs. Under that measure, some nonprofits like Life Pittsburgh received money earlier than others.

Some government services, like welfare programs and food stamps, must be paid by a federal mandate, said Department of Public Welfare spokesperson Stacy Witalech. Many of those programs are federally funded anyway, and therefore were not affected by the impasse.

Washington said the state promised a check would come to the NCA by the end of the week, but her tone was full of weariness and skepticism. If she does not receive the check soon, she said she might have to shut down the center for a while.

“That is my last resort. It still threatens to be a reality.”

Once she used up all her cash reserves, she said her next line of defense was applying for loans, which were not approved, leaving her with basically nothing.

She said that because most state-supported nonprofits were in the same situation during the budget crisis, grants are even harder to come by than before. While NCA might desperately need money, Washington said, so does everyone else.

The Northshore Community Alliance acts as an “ambulance of social services” by helping families and children in crisis.

“We can’t go away,” she said. “I’m fearful of what would happen to the welfare of these children.”

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