A coalition of human service organizations gathered under the banner of Better Choices for Pennsylvania claim they have been singled out by the state for being vocal in the debate over state funding for human services. A House Resolution ordered a legislative committee to conduct an financial audit of a specific list of service providers.
Stephen Drachler, chair of Better Choices for Pennsylvania, believes this resolution is all about perception.
“The perception is that there is a smattering of ‘get evenism’ in this resolution to identify organizations and persons who are the most vocal in speaking out on behalf of those who have no voice,” said Drachler.
State Representative Scott Petri (R-Bucks), the primary sponsor of the resolution, said he was unaware of how outspoken the selected groups had been. He said they were chosen because they are all non-profit organizations, not for the political activities.
“In the case of a non-profit, where you have the dedicated and loyal employees doing the work in the field, and quite frankly not making a lot of money, I think it becomes important to ensure that services are being rendered and getting to the people who are most needy,” Petri said.
Petri added it does not make sense for such groups to feel as if they are being reprimanded for their actions.
“Why would somebody resist a state group like the legislative budget and finance committee, assembling data, which is already available, to try and analyze whether we’re getting the best bang for our dollar?” he said.
Drachler feels Petri’s intentions are good, but says sometimes the best intentions have adverse impacts.
“We believe that the resolution could very well have a chilling effect on the voices of persons who are…the advocates for Pennsylvanians who are in most need or are most vulnerable,” Drachler said.
The information that will be collected in the audit must be reported before the state finalizes next year’s budget in April 2013.