Ohioans Take the Fight for Working Families to the Statehouse

Patrick McCarthy is a Working America member from Cincinnati.

Waking before the dawn and departing at sunrise on the morning of Wednesday, May 1st, a contingent of Working America members left from Cincinnati to drive two hours to the Capitol in Columbus, determined to make a difference in the fight for workers’ rights and the formation of the 2013 Kasich Budget. Some of us had canvassed with Working America during the crucial 2012 election season, working to get progressive legislation passed and progressive candidates elected. On the first of May – a day to honor workers’ rights – we fought yet again on behalf of workers and marginalized people. Standing in solidarity with union members, we met with our state representatives and their aides.

Upon arrival, our group met up with our Columbus counterparts for the Legislative Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Columbus. The morning session would help prepare us for the day of lobbying and rallying ahead. At the conference, several speakers – including Cincinnati-area state Sen. Eric Kearney – talked about the budgetary injustices proposed by Gov. John Kasich and his allies in the Ohio state government:

  • His plans to hand over rewards to the oil and gas lobbies without getting fair tax revenue in return;
  • $313 million in additional cuts to already-struggling poor public schools;
  • Unwarranted and unnecessary tax cuts, the lion’s share of which would go to the top 1% of Ohio earners with slim pickings to the rest;
  • The separation of the Medicaid expansion provision from budgetary discussions, an expansion that would have been completely funded by the federal government for the next 3 years and expand coverage to over 275,000 Ohioans who would not otherwise get the care they deserve;
  • Efforts to suppress the student vote by limiting voting to those students who could pay in-state tuition rates, and;
  • Measures for outside private companies to hijack control of school budgetary decisions should a school fall under “academic distress.”

Afterwards, we were prepared for our meetings with legislators, then headed to the Ohio Statehouse.

On the corner of State and High streets right across from the Ohio Senate building, a sizable crowd gathered to speak out on the important issues. Three people at the rally let us know how some legislators were proposing an attacks on workers’ rights, and how it would affect them personally. The first, an electrician, spoke at length on how so-called “right to work” legislation serves only to push the company bottom line for additional profit at the expense of Ohioan livelihoods. Tracy, a firefighter from Youngstown, decried the disturbing results of so-called “right to work” in states where it has been enacted: 36% higher workplace mortality rates and damaged workplace safety due to the inability of workers to voice their concerns. Jim, a steelworker from Canton, noted how “right to work” states saw lowered wages, decreased household income, increased poverty, and a 15% increase in infant mortality.

The message was clear: so-called “right to work” actually hurts workers, and the same must not happen here in Ohio as well. That’s why we came together this week.

At the offices of Ohio senators, we delivered hundreds of hand-written letters from the many Working America members who wrote to have their voices heard. We met with aides to Senators to tell them how we felt about issues like Medicaid, taxes and workers’ right to organize.

I told one aide my own story of health care. My girlfriend’s mother – a working-class independent – was finally able to get adequate care and medication for her broken leg after a week in the hospital by finally getting onto Medicaid. In addition, Medicaid allowed her to afford physical therapy for her decades-long back pain that she was not able to afford on private insurance.

In addition, I explained how, due to fears of medical costs, I had delaying examination for several years for recurring chest pains. Then, despite being in-network, my insurance company refused to cover my basic preventative care and attempted to charge me $6,500 afterwards. To this, the aide simply shrugged and mentioned how healthcare is simply expensive and that, similar to eating at an expensive restaurant, I can simply go elsewhere for cheaper treatment. In other words, instead of paying for food, I am paying to live, so tough luck. Although leaving feeling slighted, the experience informed me as to the callousness of some those who were meant to represent me and could otherwise take a stand to make a difference as public servants.

In contrast, Rep. Denise Driehaus spoke to me in person outside her office. She voiced her support for full Medicaid expansion and the need to speak directly with the opposition on matters such as Medicaid expansion and fairer taxation.

After lobbying visits wrapped up, we Working America members joined the May Day rally that was gathering then on the corner of Broad and High Streets. More than 100 Ohioans came together to honor workers’ rights and commit to continuing the fight.

The experience was long and tiring, yet a positive and eye-opening one. While one can read about the Kasich Budget in the headlines, it’s an entirely different – and deeper – experience to meet with legislators, aides and fellow activists to talk about these issues in person.

Numbers and data alone cannot fully convey the raw emotions and lives affected by the legislation that is passed or pushed aside in the Ohio General Assembly. By bringing not just facts and data but real stories of real people to the table, we’re able to make a difference.

Not A Joke: Ohio Legislators Could Let Amusement Parks Set Education Policy

by Stephanie Harig – Cleveland, Ohio

Education seems to be popping up as a hot topic everywhere in Ohio. After Governor Kasich pushed through his radical agenda last year, including Senate Bill 5 which attacked our teachers, Ohioans have every reason to support education reform while being wary of proposals that deal with “education reform” – that is, policies that are sold as “reforms” when in fact they simply cater to corporate interests.

That wariness is definitely warranted with House Bill 191, which would shorten the school year. I will let that sink in for a second.

Okay. Yes, the legislation actually “prohibit[s] public schools from being open for instruction prior to Labor Day or after Memorial Day.” That could be about five weeks less than schools are currently open.

Who is behind this proposal? Hint: It’s not teachers! It’s actually corporate lobbyists – specifically for the amusement parks and tourism industry. They are more concerned with inexpensive child labor and their bottom line than with children getting a decent, adequate education.

Think this is a joke? I don’t blame you. There is general disbelief among the Ohioans we talk to at the doors that this bill could actually be a serious proposal (which it is), and that it would have enough support in the General Assembly to pass (which it does). But we can’t be fooled into thinking it won’t actually happen, because our Governor and legislature have shown they will stop at nothing to further a pro-corporate agenda at the expense of working families.

Fortunately, Working America members in the Greater Cleveland area recognize how detrimental HB 191 would be for our children and the future of our state, and they’re refusing to accept that this proposal is a done deal. We’ve collected hundreds of letters to State Representatives on the Education Committee, so they’re aware that their constituents are aghast at the idea that amusement parks would be allowed to set education policy. Our members are also writing letters to the editor to raise awareness about the bill and point out why this is bad education and labor policy.

On Wednesday, members from Lake County gathered in the home of Nancy Bihary and got down to business to mobilize against HB 191. We brainstormed all the myriad reasons this legislation is a bad idea, and began drafting individual letters to the editor on the issue. Nancy said:

“If anything our legislators should pass laws to improve education, not sabotage it. Three people like me took time out of our day to meet and plan a response to HB 191 to protect education in Ohio. Surely we represent the feelings of most of Ohioans, so our elected officials should take note.”

The seriousness of the proposal is best underscored through the story of Working America member April Sabol. Her work history is full of low-paying, dead-end jobs and periodic lay-offs, interspersed with attempts to improve her career prospects through education. She emphasized that she just wants her children to have a better future and that she believes education is the way to do that. (Incidentally, she also pointed out that even if her children’s summer vacation was longer, she couldn’t afford to take them to Cedar Point anyway.)

April’s story highlights the importance of a strong educational foundation in life, and that more time in the classroom – not less – is the beginning of a successful future.

House Bill 191 seems laughable, but if it passes it will be no laughing matter for working families trying to give their kids a better life, or for any Ohioan concerned about the economic future of our state.

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While Unemployed Americans Wait, President Obama Sends Jobs Act to Congress

“Well, here it is,” the President said this morning, holding up the text of the American Jobs Act that he introduced in a speech to a Joint Session of Congress last Thursday.

The Jobs Act contains $60 billion in investments in infrastructure, $85 billion in much needed aid to state and local governments, and $175 billion in an extension of the payroll tax cut passed last year. As millions of unemployed Americans watch and struggle, the official future of the Jobs Act is in the hands of a bitterly divided Congress, which has focused more on manufactured crises than the very real jobs crisis since the beginning of this year.

While Members of Congress now have the ball in their court, the President is taking his plan to the people. He will be talking about the bill tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio, and in Raleigh-Durham on Wednesday.

Reactions are mixed among Republicans. Several members of Congress, such as Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC) and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-SC), didn’t even attend the speech. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) told reporters he would be attending a football watch party instead. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) suggested that he wanted to peel off different sections of the bill and pass them separately.

Even before the speech, many Republicans were lining up to actually oppose the employee Payroll Tax Cut, which would lower the amount deducted from paychecks to go towards Social Security to 3.1 percent. Even though inaction would essentially lead to a tax increase on working Americans, usually fanatically anti-tax politicians are identifying it as a piece of the Jobs Act that’s unacceptable.

Unlike Members of Congress, Working America members are more concerned with taking care of their families and keeping their heads above water than political maneuvers. Curtis P., a member from Sandusky, Ohio, told us he’s been unemployed for nine months, and that he’s having trouble providing for his wife and kids. Ohio would get $4 billion under the Jobs Act, including a healthy chunk for job-creating infrastructure projects.

Curtis’s representative, Bob Latta (R-OH), said of the Jobs Act that he’s concerned it isn’t paid for, and that he believes Americans want less taxes and the “elimination” of the Affordable Care Act. We’re not sure who he’s talking to, but we’re pretty sure it isn’t Curtis.

Word on the Street: Fighting spirit of Cleveland shows over Labor Day

Stephanie Harig – Cleveland, Ohio

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, and I could make endless jokes about Cleveland weather and how cold it already is here on Lake Erie. But that would overshadow one of the great things about Cleveland: our resolve. Just look at the throngs of fans piling into Cleveland Browns stadium on Sunday afternoons no matter how cold it gets or how dismal our record, and you will understand this city’s passion and fighting spirit.

When talking to folks in the community about the efforts to repeal SB 5 – the bill that restricts the collective bargaining rights of Ohio’s public employees, I sense the same determination, grit, and willingness to be in it for the long haul. This Cleveland spirit was clear once again over the holiday weekend at three awesome events: the North Shore AFL-CIO parade, the Lorain County Labor Day Family Celebration and the Cleveland Peace Show.

The parade, organized by the North Shore AFL-CIO, was very well-attended, with many different locals marching together for the working people of Ohio. In addition, our Field Director, Dan O’Malley, represented the Cleveland office of Working America and educated people about the work we are doing around the campaign to repeal SB 5.

The Lorain County event was chock full of union members who were thrilled to see Working America there! Indeed, despite the spurt of heavy rain we experienced midway through the afternoon, the crowd was large and enthusiastic. Three Working America members were on hand to talk to the attendees, and many people we spoke with unequivocally called for SB 5 to be repealed and repeatedly expressed that they are ready to stand up for working families across all sectors of the economy. Even Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga voiced his appreciation for Working America’s presence at the event and for our efforts.

On Monday, the Cleveland Working America team attended the Cleveland Peace Show, an event with more non-union than union workers. We did our share of education around SB 5, which included urging people to Vote No on Issue 2 in order to repeal this bill. Yet, plenty of non-union attendees made it clear that they are already aware of – and against – this assault on Ohio’s middle class. Some of these folks even volunteered to phone bank with Working America!

Just as fans of the Cleveland Browns follow the team with a sometimes-frustrated eye on the distant future (there’s always next year!), standing up for working families in Ohio may, at times, feel like a tough slog, especially as the pro-SB 5 side ramps up their campaign. But, as Working America member Sylvia Bly said of her experience volunteering this weekend, “The atmosphere was so upbeat and positive…What I loved even more than the camaraderie was the realization that there are so many wonderful people who strive to make sure workers in America have a strong and resilient voice.”

This weekend was a great example of how Working America facilitates the creation of a cohesive labor movement by bringing together union and non-union workers. It is clear from conversations with people at these two events and elsewhere that plenty of Ohioans believe SB 5 has to go. By continuing to raise our voices in support of working families, we can and will make sure the bill is defeated. This weekend, surely, was evidence of our fighting spirit.

Seeing worker anger in Wisconsin, Ohio Gov. Kasich seeks compromise

Ohio Governor John Kasich came into office swinging against teachers, police officers, and other public employees. Alongside his allies in the legislature, he pushed through Senate Bill 5, which would strip away collective bargaining rights for 360,000 Ohio workers. Even when pro-worker groups collected 1.5 million signatures to put the repeal of Senate Bill 5 to a referendum, Kasich remained unapologetic.

However, after seeing the results of the Wisconsin recall elections, during which working families rose up and took away Gov. Scott Walker’s working majority in the state senate, something changed. Not 24 hours after the polls had closed in Wisconsin, Gov. Kasich held a press conference and proposed a compromise:

Gov. John Kasich pleaded with organized labor leaders today to compromise on Senate Bill 5 and cancel a fall referendum on the controversial bill that peels back public employee collective bargaining rights.

Kasich said avoiding a fight over state Issue 2 is in “best interest of everyone, including public employee unions.” He asked the unions to “set aside political agendas and past offenses.

Hmm. Avoiding a fight? Set aside past offenses? This is John Kasich, the same man who:

Described his political agenda like this just three days after his election: “If you think you’re going to stop us, you’re crazy. You will not stop us. We will beat you…If you’re not on the bus, we’ll run over you with the bus. And I’m not kidding.”

• Demanded that Ohio teachers unions take out a full page ad apologizing for not supporting his campaign.

• Repeatedly and publicly called a police officer who gave him a moving violation an “idiot” – shortly before pushing legislation that would take away bargaining rights from all Ohio police officers.

Yet, here is Governor Kasich – “pleading” in the words of the Columbus Dispatch – that opponents of Senate Bill 5 compromise instead of going ahead with the repeal effort.

What changed?

Make no mistake: John Kasich is spooked by what happened in nearby Wisconsin. The Wisconsin elections ousted two entrenched Republican Senators from office, and the GOP’s attempts to recall three members of the Democratic “Wisconsin 14” were defeated with embarrassingly-high margins.

In his own state, working families collected six times the number of signatures needed to get SB 5 repeal on the ballot, and polling shows it would go down hard if they election was held today. Due in part to SB 5 and his personal intransigence, Kasich himself has approval numbers that one blogger called “eye poppingly horrible.”

After all his talk and bluster, Ohioans know the truth: Kasich’s anti-worker, corporate-backed policies are bad for Ohio, bad for the economy, and bad for working families.

Moreover, those policies are bad for the very people who voted him into office last fall, who responded to his promises for job creation and economic growth that have gone unfulfilled.

Word on the Street: Jobs lost at the hands of elected officials

Catherine Balsamo – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Ann Belser noted that, after processing July’s job stats, we are now at 9.1% unemployment. The article goes on to explain: “[July’s] jobs report would have been better if governments had not cut so many workers.” Unfortunately, states across the country, including Pennsylvania, have lost a painful amount of jobs at the hands of their own elected officials.

Under the new state budget here in Pennsylvania – a budget that doesn’t even include all the cuts to education that Governor Corbett wanted – we lost or will lose a total of 10,000 jobs in education alone.

Think about that: because of decisions made by our elected officials ten thousand jobs will be gone within the field of education in the state of Pennsylvania. Wow.

As painful or shocking as these statistics are, the on-the-ground impacts of this continuing jobs crisis (exacerbated by anti-government politicians) are more staggering than any unemployment statistic could be.

One Working America member here in Western Pennsylvania went from making a solid professional wage as a computer information services technician to being unable to support himself after he was laid-off. He is a single dad, and he and his daughter recently moved back in with his parents. This member can no longer access the sort of medical care he could when he was employed. Even though this member is exceptionally brilliant and hard working, he still can’t find work. The jobs simply aren’t there.

Another member is desperate for her and her housemate to find employment. Their lives may depend on it, because she has health issues that demand a diet she can’t afford, and because her housemate has no access to healthcare and consequently relies on her to be his “medical personnel.”

Our governor may have run on a “jobs campaign,” but he has put jobs – and consequently us – last. The new state budget will put thousands more families in situations like the ones such as those just described.

Governor Corbett and job-killing elected officials across the country need to know what their constituents main priority is – getting back to work – and that we are holding them accountable for upholding their campaign pledges of focusing on job creation.

Working America members know that elected officials who claim to be promoting job growth by adding corporate tax loopholes are not really focusing on reducing unemployment. We all see that those extra corporate profits are going to the top, instead of being used for investments that put Americans back to work.

Despite the obstacles that unemployed Pennsylvanians face while officials like Governor Corbett fail to get it right, workers have done anything but give up. The computer technician mentioned above is organizing his friends and neighbors to take action. He also spoke at a jobs town hall and interviewed with the employment reporter from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The second member mentioned wrote a letter to the editor published in the Post-Gazette, sharing her unemployment situation and calling on Governor Corbett to “balance the budget responsibly.” Working America members are attending events, signing petitions, writing letters to elected officials and to the papers, and getting their friends and family members involved. Actions like these are some of the things that we need to do to hold our elected officials accountable for promoting job growth.

With more and more folks doing their part to hold our politicians accountable, we’ll be less and less likely to open the newspaper and read that “the jobs report would have been better if governments had not cut so many workers.”

Word on the Street: SB 5 debate is about safety

Jihad Seifullah – Columbus, Ohio

In the midst of a heat wave that has swept the country working families and constituency groups across Ohio have also continued to turn up the heat to stand up for the rights of many.

We have seen working families’ rights being threatened. Since Governor Kasich signed SB 5 into law – the bill that limits collective bargaining rights for over 350,000 workers in Ohio – Ohioans across the state worked diligently to collect about 1.3 million signatures to get the repeal of the law to a statewide vote.

On Thursday July 21 in Columbus, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga met with representatives from allied organizations from around the state for a round table discussion about the campaign and how SB 5 will hurt working families. Organizations and allies that were represented included the NAACP, Alliance of Retired Americans, Center for Community Change, IUPAT, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Shawnee Central Labor Council, North Shore Central Labor Council, Phi Beta Sigma, Delta Sigma Theta, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, as well as Pastor Rousseau O’Neal, Rev. Susan Ritchie, and former State Senator Gene Branstool, the author of the original collective bargaining law in 1983. Also taking part in this discussion was Working America member Shonda Sneed, who has been unemployed for over a year and a half.

Shonda had a compelling perspective to add to the discussion as she has faced firsthand what so many others in this recession are going through. Shonda had worked in the engineering field for over 20 years. She was a hard working and very dedicated employee to the company she worked for.

At the round table Shonda shared her story, “On December 11, 2009 my supervisor came to my cubical and told me to follow him.” Shonda was totally shocked as she was being told that she was being laid off. “My supervisor walked me back to my cubicle; I packed my stuff and was escorted to my car.”

Others at the round table shared similar stories of the struggles that many families are facing in these tough economic times. This has been the scenario that has been played out over and over again for hard working families across the country.

Shonda also shared her father’s experience with unions, highlighting their importance: “My Dad shared with me how one of his friends was on the job, in a ditch digging, when it caved in on him and crushed him to death.” After he gained union representation, he didn’t have to live the fear of dying simply because he showed up to work at a dangerous site.

As Shonda reminds us all, the fight to defeat SB 5 and retain collective bargaining rights is about the safety of working families across the state. It is about the principle that no one should have to die just because their boss chose to risk their life needlessly, and we can’t let our government drag even more working people and their communities down to lower standards of safety, security and dignity. That’s something anyone can agree to, whether or not they have a union on the job.

Senate Bill 5 officially makes Ohio ballot as Kasich’s numbers fall

It’s official: the rights-stripping, anti-working families, extreme Senate Bill 5 will be put before Ohio voters for a Citizen Veto in November:

Ohio voters will have the chance this November to decide whether the state’s contentious new collective bargaining law should be repealed.

The state’s elections chief said Thursday that opponents had gathered enough valid signatures to put the question before voters. The measure is now suspended from taking effect until voters have their say.

Secretary of State John Husted certified 915,456 valid signatures, out of the 231,147 that were needed. Not only that, but these signatures came from every corner of the state:

As part of the total number of signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot, petitioners also needed to collect signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and within each of those counties, to collect enough signatures equal to three percent of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2010. Senate Bill 5 petitioners met this requirement in all 88 counties.

Meanwhile, Governor John Kasich is pulling ahead in the contest to be the nation’s least popular statewide executive. A new poll from Quinnipiac shows that 50 percent of Ohioans disapprove of Kasich’s performance has governor, while a measly 35 percent approve. This is down from a 49-38 spread in May 2011, and it isn’t just traditional Democrats who are turning against him:

Kasich’s job performance gets a 66 – 19 percent approval from Republicans, but disapproval is 76 – 12 percent among Democrats and 48 – 34 percent among independent voters. The depth of his problem is evidenced by his split 43 – 42 percent rating among white evangelical Christians, typically a very pro-Republican group.

As for his signature legislative achievement, voters oppose Senate Bill 5 56 percent to 32 percent. That sentiment showed up very clearly when We Are Ohio announced that they had gathered 1.3 million signatures to repeal SB 5 – that’s roughly six times the margin Kasich won by in the 2010 election.

Purely based on the numbers, things are looking up for Ohio working families, but not so good for Kasich and his corporate, radical allies.

Must Reads – Monday, July 18, 2011

Good morning everyone, hope you got some time to relax this weekend. Here’s what you need to be reading today:

Rick Ungar at Forbes.com blogs about how last week’s “fake Democrat” primaries in Wisconsin reveal just how little Scott Walker and Co. care about the state’s finances:

We can also recall Walker statements like “I don’t have anything to negotiate. We are broke in this state. We have been broke for years.” and ” We’re broke. We don’t have any more money.”

Apparently, he did have a spare $400,000 laying around after all and chose to spend it on a purely political gambit that stood only to benefit his own party.

I can’t think of a better reason for Wisconsin voters to question the true purpose of the Walker agenda in the coming recall elections.

While there has long been a dispute over whether or not the Wisconsin budget crisis was anywhere near as dire as the Governor has suggested, Walker’s willingness to blow taxpayer money in so cynical a fashion– money sent to the Wisconsin treasury by Wisconsinites of all political stripes and beliefs – speaks far more to Mr. Walker’s true character and convictions than this writer could ever hope to reveal.

We’ve got some bright news out of Ohio – it’s looking increasingly likely that the anti-working families Senate Bill 5 will be put to a statewide vote. From the Columbus Dispatch:

Based on preliminary numbers provided to The Dispatch by county boards of elections, the petition to place the referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot has enough valid statewide signatures from just two counties, Cuyahoga and Franklin.

Collectively, these two counties have validated more than 235,000 signatures. Fewer than 232,000 signatures are needed to place the item on the ballot.

Finally, an incredibly honest and poignant column about the lives of working folks in the South from New York Times’ Charles M. Blow:

Last week I spent a few days in the Deep South — a thousand miles from the moneyed canyons of Manhattan and the prattle of Washington politics — talking to everyday people, blue-collar workers, people not trying to win the future so much as survive the present.

They do hard jobs and odd jobs — any work they can find to keep the lights on and the children fed.

No one mentioned the asinine argument about the debt ceiling. No one.

Life is pressing down on them so hard that they can barely breathe. They just want Washington to work, the way they do.

They are honest people who do honest work — crack-the-bones work; lift-it, chop-it, empty-it, glide-it-in-smooth work; feel-the-flames-up-close work; crawl-down-in-there work — things that no one wants to do but that someone must.

Got a suggestion for a Must Read? Leave a comment here, or send us a message on Twitter at @WorkingAmerica.

Word on the Street: Gov. Corbett’s Budget Targets Middle-Class Pennsylvanians, Protects Millionaires

Kim McMurray – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Earlier this summer, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett passed a state budget for 2011-2012 that jeopardized the economic certainty of working families and needy citizens across the Keystone State. In this political environment, those who are least able to afford cuts are forced to absorb the pain while millionaires and billion-dollar corporations are spared from making a sacrifice.

Governor Corbett’s extreme budget made drastic cuts to education, with urban school districts in places like Philadelphia and Allentown taking the hardest hits. Basic education funding was cut by over $425 million from last year. Accountability block grants (to make sure that schools are being as effective as possible) were cut by 61%, while a state-wide tutoring program and school improvement grants were cut completely. Special education funding was flat lined for the third straight year and integral early education programs like HeadStart and PreK Counts were decreased. In total, the cuts to K-12 education programs equaled added up to well over $860 million.

Then there’s higher education. Temple University announced this week that they will be forced to raise tuition by almost 10% to offset the cuts in state assistance. They won’t be the only ones. Pennsylvania State, Pittsburgh, and Bucks Community College are all raising fees to make up for the lost revenue. State funding to public universities and community colleges was cut by an average of 18%.

Health care and public welfare programs that service the state’s most vulnerable citizens also took a big hit. Funding for county child welfare (the people who protect abused children) was cut by 4%. The Medical Assistance Transportation Program, which helps sick and disabled people (mostly senior citizens) get to and from doctor’s appointments will do without $8.5 million this year.

Another major blow came to housing services. The budget cut $8.5 million in assistance to counties providing services like housing assistance, adult day-care, and home delivered meals. In a time when foreclosures are still at a record-high, the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, which has kept scores working Keystone State families in their homes, was cut by more than 80%.

Governor Corbett’s budget is making millions of Pennsylvanians feel buyer’s remorse from the 2010 elections and Working America will continue to mobilize working class moderates from each corner of Pennsylvania to fight for a fair budget that promotes Main Street values. Already this year, Working America members attended rallies at the State Capitol, held meetings with local elected officials, wrote countless letters to their local newspapers, and reached out to friends and family to spread the word about the damage that Governor Corbett’s budget will do. We may have lost the first battle but the fight is far from over to ensure that working class Pennsylvanians get the support they need to invest in their futures, remain in their homes and support their families.