BLOG: S&P Threatens Pennsylvania With a Downgrade Due to Our Budget Deficit

first_img March 07, 2016 Budget News,  The Blog Last week, Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services cited Pennsylvania’s structural budget imbalance as the primary reason that the commonwealth’s AA-minus general obligation rating could be downgraded by the end of March.Governor Wolf has warned for years that Pennsylvania’s $2 billion plus budget deficit is a time bomb, ticking away. If it explodes, Pennsylvania will experience a fiscal catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen.Last week’s S&P downgrade warning is a stark reminder of the consequences of failing to address Pennsylvania’s budget deficit. It’s time to pass a budget that addresses the budget deficit and fully funds our schools and other key services.Key takeaways from the report:“We believe that the failure of lawmakers to agree on a complete budget package for fiscal 2016 in the coming weeks would impair their ability to address the projected fiscal 2017 budget gap in a timely manner. If the legislature and governor do not enact a fiscal 2016 budget that addresses structural balance by the end of the March sessions, we will likely lower the rating. On the other hand, if lawmakers do agree on a budget that addresses long-term structural balance in this timeframe, we could revise the outlook back to stable.”“The $30.3 billion budget passed by both the house and senate is, in our view, structurally unbalanced and does not include pension reforms negotiated in the previously agreed-on budget framework. As proposed, the budget had a $510 million budget gap for fiscal 2016 and left a $2.2 billion budget gap for fiscal 2017. It did not include a previously proposed revenue increase package and relies on $46.6 million of one-time revenues in fiscal 2016. Increases to basic education funding in House Bill 1460 were less than the budget compromise bill, and, when including cuts to school construction, it cut $95 million to education.”“In our view, the immediate credit concern is that failure to act in the current fiscal year could compound future fiscal gaps.” Read more posts about Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img BLOG: S&P Threatens Pennsylvania With a Downgrade Due to Our Budget Deficit By: Jeffrey Sheridan, Press Secretarylast_img read more

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Wounded soldiers vent their frustrations on care

first_imgJohn H. Chiles, a retired colonel who was chief of anesthesiology at Walter Reed and chief of staff at the U.S. Army hospital in Baghdad, said the military medical system was “underfunded, understaffed and overwhelmed.” Jose R. Ramos, a hospital corpsman who lost his arm in combat in Iraq, said he received first-class care at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. But he said he had often been frustrated in seeking care at Walter Reed and at a local veterans hospital. Long delays Ramos, a commission member, said he had been thwarted by the “military bureaucracy.” At Walter Reed, Ramos said, he experienced long delays because of “the sheer numbers of patients each doctor must keep track of.” “It was rare that I ever saw the same doctor,” Ramos reported. “I constantly had to re-explain my symptoms and medical history.” Moreover, Ramos said, the transition from Walter Reed to the Department of Veterans Affairs was a struggle. “Three different times I had to gather all my medical information and resubmit a package because three different times the VA managed to lose it,” Ramos said. “Even after I was medically retired, the VA had no idea that I was an amputee.” In an interview, Ramos recalled how he informed his doctor at the VA that he had an artificial limb: “I knocked on my carbon-fiber arm and said, `I’m missing an arm, buddy.”‘ Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, said military medicine had made great strides since he was wounded in action in Italy 62 years ago, on April 14, 1945. Of the commission’s work, he said, “This is not going to be a witch hunt or a whitewash.” Tammy Edwards, another commission member, said she faced a never-ending “battle with paperwork” as she tried to get care for her husband, Staff Sgt. Christopher Edwards, who was severely burned in Iraq when a 500-pound bomb exploded under his vehicle. After getting out of the intensive care unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, her husband faced a new problem, Edwards said. “He was not receiving any mental health services and had fallen into a deep depression,” she said. “He felt that he would be stuck in the hospital forever. His pain was so intense that he would often ask me why we did not let him die in the first place.” Edwards said the armed forces should focus on “healing the family unit as a whole.” “Family members are often overlooked,” she said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Giammatteo, a West Point graduate and former Army captain, said he had observed a “lack of caring or compassion in some of the work force” at Walter Reed. “On several occasions,” Giammatteo said, “I, and others I have spoken to, felt that we were being judged as if we chose our nation’s foreign policy and, as a result, received little if any assistance. Some individuals, most of whom are civilian workers and do not wear the uniform, judge the wounded unfairly and treat them similarly, adopting a `Can’t help you, you’re on your own’ attitude.” Giammatteo, a member of the commission, testified at the first meeting of the panel Saturday. President George W. Bush created the nine-member panel March 6 to investigate the care that wounded troops receive when they return from the battlefield. Former Sen. Bob Dole, a Republican, and Donna E. Shalala, who was secretary of health and human services in the Clinton administration, are co-chairmen of the panel, known officially as the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors. The panel plans to hold several hearings around the country and is supposed to issue its report, with recommendations, by June 30. The deadline can be extended to July 31 if necessary. WASHINGTON – Wounded soldiers and veterans poured out their frustrations with the military health care system Saturday, telling a presidential commission that they had often had difficulty getting care because military doctors were overwhelmed by the needs of service members injured in Iraq. Speaking from experience, the soldiers and veterans described the military health care system as a labyrinth, said their families had been swamped with paperwork and complained that some care providers lacked compassion. Marc A. Giammatteo, who has undergone more than 30 operations to repair a leg torn apart by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq, said the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, had been inundated with wounded members of the armed forces whose numbers surpassed its capacity. Lack of compassion last_img
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