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Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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House lawmaker vows another fight on human services block grant

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 10, 2013 10:09 PM
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The Corbett administration is calling for all counties to be able to participate in a block grant program that put fewer restrictions on how they divvy up funding for certain human services, and the lawmaker who led the fight against the program last year says he’s still skeptical.

Last year, the administration’s plan was to have all counties receive human services funding with a single block grant. It finally agreed on a 20-county pilot program, after Republican state Representative Gene DiGirolamo of Bucks County put up resistance, backed by service providers, who say the approach could lead programs to fight for funding, instead of each service being prescribed a certain amount by the state. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania backs the block grant approach.

The pilot program got up and running at the end of last month, but Gov. Corbett’s budget office says it’s seen enough to want to make the block grant available to any county that wants it. DiGirolamo said he’ll oppose the effort.

“I still have a large number of concerns about the block grant and especially when you talk about doing it statewide,” he said.

“A pilot program is supposed to be that – a pilot program, where you let it work for a length of time, and you know, I think reasonable would be two or three years, and then you come back and evaluate and see how the pilot program is doing,” DiGirolamo added. He said he thinks it’s too early to expand the pilot program, but he’s also against the whole notion of block granting human services funding.

“I do not believe that you should be putting these poor people – and we’re talking about people with intellectual disabilities, people with mental health issues, people with drug and alcohol issues, children and youth, people who are homeless – you should not be putting these people fighting against one another for a limited amount of resources,” he said.

Four midstate counties are taking part in the pilot program -- Berks, Dauphin, Franklin and Lancaster.


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