Congreso CEO Cynthia F. Figueroa Statement on Pennsylvania Budget Impasse
Media Contact: Yvette A. Núñez, 267-241-9361
Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc. is a multiservice organization serving the Philadelphia region through its mission to strengthen Latino communities through social, economic, education and health services; leadership development and advocacy. Over the last five years, we have served 58,572 of this region’s neediest individuals. In FY15 alone, we served 17,751 unduplicated individuals, the majority of whom live on an annual household income of less than $11,000 per year. Sixty-five percent of our clients are Latino, and 34 percent are African-American. These individuals are served by Congreso’s expert staff, some of the best in their fields, who have since 2013 designated Congreso as a Top Workplace in the Region because of its impact on clients’ life outcomes. Forty-percent of our staff live in the neighborhoods where we provide direct services.
As a result of strong fiscal management and a continually diversified funding portfolio, since July 1, 2015, Congreso has been able to continue to operate in the absence of a Pennsylvania State Budget, at a cost of $30,170 per day, and $1.3M to date. We have incurred these costs out of our commitment to meet the needs of Pennsylvania residents who seek our services. However, in the interest of our ability to continue to provide services to the most critical cases for as long as possible under the current budget stalemate, we will have to enact the following recourse effective September 1, 2015 through October 31, 2015:
- Congreso CEO will receive a 50 percent reduction in pay.
- All employees will receive a 40 percent reduction in pay; exempt employees will continue a full-time work schedule while non-exempt employees will not work two days per week.
- Out-of-School Time (OST) programs will operate less slots in a reduced number of schools; affecting 330 students who will no longer receive afterschool programming.
- 11 full-time employees will receive a full-time furlough.
The stalemate will already have long-term implications on our region and Commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations and its social service sector workforce. In an effort to remediate this impact, we call on Governor Wolf, our Legislature, and the Mayor of Philadelphia to enact the following in order:
- Immediately approve a fiscally and civically responsible budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
- In the interim, provide a stopgap as proposed by the United Way of Pennsylvania which will assure that vulnerable Pennsylvanians do not suffer while a final budget is being negotiated;
- and ensure that City departments are prepared to expedite retroactive contracting and invoice payment procedures in order to alleviate what is a traditional 30-60 day delay in new fiscal year contract processing.
It is in the interest of every elected official whose service is temporary and determined by the Commonwealth’s citizens to immediately resolve what has become a fiscal crisis in our social service sector.
It is unacceptable that the most vulnerable and those who serve the most vulnerable are having to carry the burden of indecision in Harrisburg. I implore you on behalf of the domestic violence victims who we can no longer relocate out of abusive homes, the hundreds of clients seeking critical services (SNAP, utilities, cash assistance, etc.) who will face reduced support due to staff reductions, and the Congreso employees who live pay check to pay check, resolve this budget impasse or find a stop gap measure to support the most vulnerable communities.
We are prepared and look forward to being fully operational once the budget stalemate ends.