Do you know what the “cliff effect” is?
This refers to the sudden and complete ineligibility for subsidies like food, child care, transportation or housing, that working, low-income families experience with even a minor rise in earnings. The loss of the subsidies mean the worker has to refuse the raise, decline the promotion, or not accept the better-paying job, or see her/his family worse off. This makes no sense for Pennsylvania taxpayers, families or our economy.
The recently passed PA Senate Resolution 62 (initiated by Senator McIlhinney) calls for a study to be done by the non-partisan research arm of the PA Legislature (the PA Legislative Budget and Finance Committee) to examine the cliff effects and their issues that occur across work-support programs administered by several state departments (i.e. Education, Welfare, Health, Labor and Industry, Housing Finance, etc.), and will make recommendations, for example, on ways to ameliorate the cliff effects, on the best practices and policies which build family assets and financial stability, and on how coordination among state agencies can be fostered to promote consistency and create incentives for economic security.
The Coalition knows from our own study of the cliff effect in many other states across the nation that these are complicated issues; there is no single evidence-based solution but rather a range of ways that states are working to reduce poverty, all of which require strategic, integrated and comprehensive approaches. This Senate study, together with the work of Representative Dave Reed’s poverty initiative in the PA House, will generate the opportunity for Pennsylvania citizens to investigate, review and discuss what the Commonwealth does and should be doing to help families enjoy better economic standards.
Toward that end, in partnership with Women’s Way, we have formed a Steering Committee of Pennsylvania organizations which will be strategizing about putting together a state-wide coalition to support legislation and policies that coordinate across agency and eliminate cliffs in order to keep families working and strengthen options for Pennsylvanians to gain economic self-sufficiency. Current members of the Steering Committee include Center for Hunger-Free Communities at Drexel University, Coalition for Low Income Pennsylvanians, Community Legal Services, PathWays PA, Women and Girls Foundation of SW PA, and Women’s Opportunities Resource Center.
Want to know more or get involved? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Nancy Morrill, President Emerita, Bucks County Womens Advocacy Coalition