Bill to eliminate cash assistance advances in Pa. House

Tony Romeo
March 30, 2019 - 5:00 am

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A bill that would once again eliminate Pennsylvania’s $200 per month cash assistance program could get a vote in the state House when lawmakers return to session next month. 

A 2012 law that ended the program was struck down on a technicality related to how it was passed. 

Gov. Tom Wolf restarted the program after a state Supreme Court ruling last year. A bill to eliminate it again appears to be on a fast track in the state House. 

Days after it cleared a committee, proposed amendments were being debated on the House floor. Dems say the program offers relief for the needy, but GOP leaders say the money has been used inappropriately.

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Philadelphia’s Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was among several Democrats who unsuccessfully offered amendments that would have extended the program in some form.

“This amendment is about expanding a program that has been a lifeline,” he said.

Republican state Rep. Stan Saylor, the House Appropriations chairman, claims the cash assistance program has been abused.

“It was used to purchase drugs, alcohol, tobacco,” he added.

Saylor said Wolf promised to consult with lawmakers before restarting the program, and he's spending money not authorized by them. 

Wolf’s spokesman said it was made clear from the beginning the program would restart, adding that the governor opposes the bill.