Whole Home Repair Act is proof lawmakers can work together whenever they want | Ray E. Landis
Despite a week’s delay and controversy over a number of funding issues, the Pennsylvania General Assembly again managed to pass a budget. As always, there was good, bad, and bad in the process.
Perhaps the worst of the problems was the delay in passing the budget that gave Republican leaders an opportunity to rush through proposed constitutional amendments to potentially restrict access to abortions and voting, among other bad ideas. . The continued efforts of these lawmakers to attempt to usurp the authority of the other two branches of government are a stark reminder of the threat to democracy that exists in politics today.
Surprisingly good news was the inclusion in the budget of a new program, the Whole Home Repair initiative. Whole Home Repair is a response to a problem Pennsylvania is facing with its housing stock. In large metropolises, mid-sized cities, and small boroughs across the Commonwealth, the homes of many Pennsylvanians are aging along with their residents.
Whole Home Repair is especially important for older Pennsylvanians. These are the individuals and families who are commonly referred to as “rich in house but poor in money.”
Many of them own their properties, but struggle to get by on their social security benefits and, if they’re lucky, a small pension.
The houses they live in often need major repairs. Leaky pipes, cracked ceilings, and drafty windows are problematic for everyone, but they can be especially distressing for older homeowners who are physically unable to make the kind of repairs they’ve done. when they were younger, but can’t afford to pay someone to do it. their.
This is where the Whole Home Repair program will make the difference. A $125 million appropriation in the state budget will allow qualified homeowners to use up to $50,000 to have these repairs made. It will allow these individuals and families to continue living in the communities where they want to be instead of being forced to move, likely to a community living situation where, due to their limited incomes, they may soon exhaust all their resources. .
Creating and funding Whole Home Repair recognizes the demographic challenges facing the Commonwealth and establishes an innovative way to answer the question of where our elderly population will live with a solution that not only helps individuals, but improves entire communities.
What may be the most shocking aspect of Whole Home Repair for followers of the Harrisburg political scene is that it began as an initiative of a Democratic state senator from Philadelphia, Nikil Saval, and won bipartisan support.
WHYY-FM’s report on the approval of the funds quotes Republican Senator Dave Argall, who represents Schuylkill County, as saying, “Any community that has faced economic hardship (needs this bill).
Unfortunately, there has not been unanimous support for this initiative, and this is where the ugliness of the budget debate and the pervasive atmosphere of self-interest in the halls of the General Assembly come into play. account line.
Although negotiated by the Republican leadership, the state budget failed to win the approval of the entire Republican caucus in the General Assembly. State Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin, was one of those who voted against the final spending package.
In a press release announcing his opposition to the budget, DiSanto specifically pointed to the Whole Home Repair initiative as a “particularly egregious example of excessive government spending.” He went on to call Saval a “Philadelphia Democratic socialist lawmaker” and claimed the program was “an insult to the low-income homeowner who worked and saved for years to maintain his home.”
DiSanto nominally represents the city of Harrisburg and other small, economically challenged communities in Dauphin and Perry counties, such as Duncannon, Halifax and Newport, whose residents will benefit from funding available through the Whole Home Repair program.
It turns out that DiSanto voted against the entire state budget — a budget that funds the state government, which employs large numbers of residents in his Harrisburg-based district — and the main reason that he quotes is creating a program to help owners of older homes. which he says threatens to negatively impact his company’s bottom line.
DiSanto’s vote against the state budget epitomizes the ugly side of Pennsylvania’s state budget process, our political system, and many of the selfish individuals enmeshed in it. On the bright side, this time the darkness has been defeated and Pennsylvanians have an innovative new state initiative.