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Libraries Provide Vital Tax Time Services--Tell Harrisburg

Posted By Linda Beck, Thursday, April 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 16, 2013

Greetings, PaLA Members.


Tax Time? Think – libraries! It's almost April 15th and thousands of low-income residents and senior-citizens need help getting taxes completed – and receiving the earned-income-tax credit they deserve. They've turned to Pennsylvania's public libraries for help.


In my library—the Indian Valley Public Library in Telford—just this season alone, six to eight volunteers each day from the AARP and United Way-Vita programs assist taxpayers. 335 people came in for appointments in February when tax season had just begun. Imagine the numbers when all are counted after April 15!


Assisting taxpayers at Tax Time is one of the little-recognized but highly valued services that Pennsylvania's libraries provide for our citizens every year. Whether it is providing copies of federal or state tax forms, downloading and copying instruction booklets, enabling online tax filing for those without home Internet access, or furnishing free space (including evenings and weekends) where well-trained tax volunteers can work accurately and confidentially with area residents, public libraries serve as key resources for tens of thousands of taxpayers every year.


Assistance at Tax Time is one more good reason to contact Governor Corbett and your legislators. Tell them how your library assists the taxpayers in your community and ask for their help by, at the very least, maintaining current state funding levels into next year's budget.


It's easy to send an email message. You can use the one PaLA provides or create your own. Either way, we urge you to please Take Action. Thanks for your help,

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State Funding Advocacy Linked with National Library Week

Posted By Darlene Marshall, Monday, March 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 16, 2013

In light of Pennsylvania’s still-tenuous economic recovery, securing level funding for public libraries is going to take persistent work. Getting your trustees and friends and library users to contact local legislators is vital.


In his recent email message, Glenn Miller, PaLA Executive Director, explained that even though Governor Corbett has proposed no cuts for next year, we not out of danger. He wrote, "As things stand right now, our funding would remain level for next year. But that very well could change. Why? The Governor’s budget proposal requires major legislative action and if such action is not achieved, then the budget plan’s revenues and spending would be out of balance and other revenue (taxes) or new cuts would be needed. Make no mistake about it. Level funding in this environment is not the worst outcome and we are not out of the woods for sure."


We ask for your help in contacting your elected officials and sharing this information broadly with other library supporters. State Senators and Representatives will be home in their districts for the next two weeks so this is a good time to reach them.


In Harrisburg, PaLA continues to meet with legislators and administration officials to share information about the use and funding of Pennsylvania libraries, so your letters, emails, and local visits now and in the weeks ahead will strengthen our message. This is also the perfect time to connect National Library Week (April 14-20) with your message by asking local leaders and government officials to adopt proclamations demonstrating support for the library. Invite them to your library. Take pictures to show library activities, and explain how state funding is needed to maintain good library services, especially services for our kids.


Please Take Action. Thanks for your help!

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PaLA Supports No-Cuts Budget; POWER Library Boost

Posted By Joe Sherwood, Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 16, 2013

No Library Cuts Proposed for First Time Since 2007
PaLA Supports Level Funding & POWER Library Boost


The General Assembly recently completed hearings on the 2013-2014 Pennsylvania budget. Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis appeared before the Appropriations Committees of the State Senate and House of Representatives to answer questions about education issues and funding. Representatives from PaLA and our lobbying consultants, Greenlee Partners, have begun a series of meetings with key legislators and staff members, as well as some administration officials to underscore the importance of library services and the funding required to provide good library services to students and the public. We’ll also continue to educate key decision makers about PaLA’s initiative, PA Forward, highlighting the link between libraries and literacy, and how better-leveraged libraries can move our state forward.

By every indication, 2013 shapes up to be another difficult budget year. The Governor’s proposed budget of $28.4 billion represents an increase over this year of 2.4%. However mandated and growing line items, such as Medicaid and state pensions, consume an ever-increasing share of the budget (so modest overall increases really don’t go very far). Additionally the Governor’s plan balances the next budget by assuming the legislature will approve plans to restructure state pensions, privatize the state liquor system, and raise wholesale fuel taxes. These and other hot topics will almost certainly lead to extensive debates in Harrisburg this spring.

With this as the backdrop, PaLA’s Legislative Committee met to weigh these factors and develop a plan of action for the next budget. The committee recognized that Governor Corbett’s budget plan related to libraries—while not increasing our funding—represents the first time since 2007 that a budget was put forth that proposed no new cuts to library funding. While some may see that as small consolation, nevertheless it is a positive sign in an economy which is still struggling to gain momentum.

As things stand right now, our funding would remain level for next year. But that very well could change. Why? As noted above, the Governor’s budget proposal requires major legislative action and if such action is not achieved, then the budget plan’s revenues and spending would be out of balance and other revenue (taxes) or new cuts would be needed.

Make no mistake about it. Level funding in this environment is not the worst outcome and we are not out of the woods for sure. We ask for your help with your elected officials

PaLA’s Legislative Committee also concluded that, even with the current economic realities, it is important for this and future years to keep making the case for improving library services. As such, the committee agreed that seeking an increase for Library Access to bolster the quality of POWER Library makes the most sense in this still-tight budget environment. Increasing funding for POWER Library has appeal because:
1. Even a modest funding increase could improve public and school library services broadly across the state;
2. This is technology-based service which most decision-makers like;
3. POWER Library enjoys strong support among public and school librarians who are willing to advocate for it; and
4. This request will be viewed as credible and not a pie-in-the-sky proposal that would be dismissed out of hand in this tight fiscal environment.

So this spring, PaLA will pursue a two-pronged strategy:
1. Protecting level funding for the Public Library Subsidy, for the State Library, and for Library Services for the Visually Impaired and Disabled;
and,
2. Seeking increased funding to improve the quality and quantity of electronic resources offered statewide through POWER Library.

To achieve these two goals, we need your help. It’s easy to do. Send an email to Governor Corbett and to your State Senator and State Representative. Please take a few brief minutes to send your message—expressing support for the no-cuts, level funding budget proposal, and seeking increased support for POWER Library. As always, please remember that we need to speak as one voice to be successful. The more pro-library voices we raise, the greater our chances for success. Thank you.

Tags:  budget 

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Governor Proposes Level Funding for All Library Programs

Posted By Joe Sherwood, Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 16, 2013

Speaking before the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives on February 5, Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his budget plan for Fiscal Year 2013-14. For the first time since he took office, the Governor proposes an increase in the overall state budget of about 2.4%. It should be noted, however, that some of the increased spending relies on the legislature approving controversial measures including privatizing state liquor stores, and a plan to move state employee and teacher pensions from a defined benefit to a defined contribution system. The pension problem alone is a huge wild card in this next budget as the Governor and legislators try to solve a large gap between money coming in and benefits projected to be paid over the long-term.


For libraries, funding for all library line items is proposed to remain level-funded at slightly more than $60.8 million under Governor Corbett’s budget plan. The good news is that this is the first time since 2007-08—before the economy crashed—that a Governor’s budget does not propose cutting any library funding. Specifically, here’s what the Governor proposes for library programs for next year:
• $53,507,000 Public Library Subsidy
• $ 2,821,000 Library Access
• $ 2,567,000 Library Services for the Visually Impaired and Disabled
• $ 1,946,000 Office of Commonwealth Libraries

More information and context will be available in the days ahead. The General Assembly has to weigh in with their priorities as well. As our economy continues to improve, as more people re-join the workforce, and as more revenue comes into state coffers, PaLA’s hope and plan is to regain the ground that libraries lost during the deep recession just ended.

Thanks to all library supporters for great advocacy in the past. PaLA’s Legislative Committee will convene shortly to work up a strategy for this budget cycle. Look for more information to follow.

Tags:  budget 

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