As longtime commonwealth employees, the complicated budget process is nothing new to us, but this year, we’re facing an impossible situation.
But first, let’s be clear. We strongly oppose the closure of any state institutions, but thanks to years of Republican obstructionism and refusal to look at increasing revenue, these decisions have been nearly unavoidable.
How did we get here? For two years, Governor Wolf has tried to create a responsible budget that deals with the serious budget deficits and funds the services everyone in Pennsylvania needs.
But rather than do the real work governing requires, over and over again, Republicans in the General Assembly have obstinately refused to even consider raising the revenue we need. Instead, they seem far more interested in protecting tax loopholes for big business and the fracking industry than what happens to the rest of us.
Now it’s up to Governor Wolf – and the people of Pennsylvania – to figure out how to deal with a massive budget shortfall without adding to the suffering of our most vulnerable citizens and communities. This means some state prisons and hospitals are facing closure to fix the budget holes.
To make sure we make the best of a bad situation, SEIU HCPA is actively engaged in the restructuring process to make sure your voice is heard and our patients and affected colleagues will be protected.
What We’re Doing:
Last week, member meetings were held at Hamburg Center and Norristown State Hospital to discuss the news of closures. We also convened a conference call for nurses at the five prisons under consideration for closure. Among the topics discussed were the impact that closures will have on patients and inmates, future job opportunities for affected nurses, and our plan as a Union for responding to this news.
Yesterday, SEIU HCPA VP, Kevin Hefty testified in Harrisburg about the prison closures and next week union leaders and members will testify at hospital closure hearings to urge policymakers to reconsider these decisions.
We’ll say it again. We strongly oppose the closure of any state institutions, but thanks to years of Republican obstructionism and refusal to look at increasing revenue, these decisions have been nearly impossible to avoid.
If these closures are inevitable, it is vital we are there every step of the way to make sure we are standing up for good union jobs and our most vulnerable patients and communities.
What You Can Do:
While the financial difficulties facing the state are immense, the Republican-led legislature should be leading us by working with the Governor’s Office to explore new revenue sources such as a responsible tax on Marcellus Shale production and reforming the tax code to ensure that corporations pay their fair share.
Contact your representatives to tell them the impact their decisions will have on your patients, you and your colleagues and your communities. Your expertise and personal stories are powerful – make sure your voices are heard.
Attend closure hearings in Hamburg Center and Norristown. There will be two hearings next week to hear from the community about the closings. We need to show up and make a stand. Plan to attend, bring your colleagues, friends, families and neighbors, sign up to speak, call your representatives. This is the time to act.
Hamburg Center Closure Hearing
Monday, January 30, 1pm-4pm
Hamburg Borough Building
Norristown Hospital Closure Hearing
Tuesday, January 31 2pm-5pm
Norristown State Hospital, Building 33
If you have any questions about how to get involved, please contact Neal Manning at Neal.Manning@seiuhcpa.org.