Pennsylvania GOP Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has cut funding to a program that helped pull low-income workers out of poverty by helping them get federal tax credits and prepare their tax returns.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer
, the program administered by the Department of Public Welfare at a cost of about $500,000 was designed to help save low-income workers hundreds of dollars a year by helping them qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which Republican President Ronald Reagan once called the "best antipoverty program in America.
But in recent years, what was a bipartisan initiative conceived by Republican President Richard Nixon with the idea of encouraging people to work has turned into a political football with many Republicans now saying it creates too much dependence on government.
State welfare spokeswoman Donna Morgan said budgetary constraints was the main reason funding was pulled from the program. But she said department officials also felt the tax services provided were no longer a "core" responsibility of the state in times of fiscal trouble.
In addition, Morgan said people who used the program can get help elsewhere, either through free tax services offered by accountants or directly from IRS programs aimed at helping the poor.
Still, the decision to cut the program angered some non-profit organizations that relied on funding from it to provide financial advice to lower-income state residents.
"It's appalling that something that helps working people would be removed just like that," said Carol Goertzel, chief executive officer of Pathways PA, one of the groups associated with program.
"I think the cuts are part of a general perspective of not really looking at what lower-income people really need," she told the Inquirer. "They're the silent minority who don't seem to matter. And they're not the ones who'll scream to the governor or march in protest anywhere."
The EITC program has expanded over the years to offer a larger credit for families with three or more children, while eliminating the so-called marriage penalty. The changes are set expire this year, but House Republicans don’t want them renewed, the Inquirer reported.
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