Proposed State Budgets Reflect an Understanding and Value of Penn-Mar Services - Penn-Mar

Proposed State Budgets Reflect an Understanding and Value of Penn-Mar Services

Posted on March 21, 2024

By Gregory T. Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer, Penn-Mar Human Services | Chief Executive Officer, Penn-Mar Foundation
CEO Greg Miller's headshot

Gregory Miller
President/CEO Penn-Mar Human Services

Legislators in both Maryland and Pennsylvania have presented their 2024-25 budget recommendations, and I am cautiously optimistic that good news is on the way.

Governor Wes Moore of Maryland has increased the budget for service providers like Penn-Mar with a 3 percent bump. While it’s not quite as significant as last year’s historic 12 percent increase, it is a clear signal that the Governor recognizes the need for continuing competitive wages to attract and retain the professional workforce that supports people with disabilities.

The Governor has been very focused on helping human service providers attain an adequate funding differential to keep pace with the steady increases that have been made in the last few years to Maryland’s minimum wage.

Overall, the state’s budget has been more stable and generous to Penn-Mar, in part, thanks to the support of Federal dollars during COVID, and because we benefitted from being an early adopter of a new funding system from the State of Maryland.

In Pennsylvania, Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget proposes making a likewise historic investment in the work of human services providers with a 10-12 percent increase in funding, with $217 million allocated from the State and a matching $266 million in federal funding.

Over the years Penn-Mar has made it loud and clear to legislators in Harrisburg that our essential workforce and services would be in crisis mode unless the state could provide adequate funding to compensate our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) for their specialized skills and ever-increasing cost-of-living expenses.

If the Pennsylvania budget is approved, Penn-Mar will finally be on solid financial footing in both states where it provides its services, and frankly in the best financial position it has been for several years. The Pa. budget conversation is currently very contentious and while most legislators are in agreement with the investment in programs like ours, there are several other significant challenges in getting consensus on the overall budget.

Our challenge is to ensure that the legislatures in both states approve these proposed budgets.

I believe that our representatives understand the importance and value of the services that organizations like Penn-Mar provide. And I am well aware of the challenges they face trying to respond to all of their constituents’ requests for support.

That said, we can never waver in our efforts to educate and advocate for the funding we need to ensure the people we support can continue to live meaningful lives of their choosing.

On March 27th we will have the chance to show our resolve when we will be hosting a press conference at our new Far Hills facility where representatives from the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) under Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) will formally announce the Governor’s budget recommendations.

This will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the recent renovations at Far Hills that consolidate all of our Pennsylvania-administered programs under one roof. It’s the perfect backdrop for underscoring how Penn-Mar has continually adapted and innovated the community-centered support model of today for employment, vocational and day service programs for people with disabilities.

March 27th will be an important day and give us a powerful opportunity to step-up our advocacy efforts to ensure that we both protect and receive the new funding from Pennsylvania as well as Maryland.

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