Businesses & the PA Budget Impasse

Are you (or do you know of) a business that’s offering any special deals or programs to Pennsylvania employees because of the budget impasse?  Post a comment under this article, or use the contact link above, and I’ll add you to this list.  Whether you’re a bank offering zero-interest paycheck loans, a bar or restaurant offering drink or food specials, or a supermarket offering impasse specials, let us know!  Read on for the list…

Financial Institutions:

Many, if not all, of the offers from financial institutions require you to be a member of that institution prior to the budget impasse being enacted.  If you join now, it is likely that you will not receive the offer.

  • PSECU is offering zero-interest loans for qualifying state employees.  You will need to pass a credit check, and the deadline to apply seems to keep getting unofficially extended.
  • Belco CCU is quietly offering a low- or no-interest loan for qualifying state employees.
  • ACBS FCU is offering interest-free loans for qualifying state employees.  It appears you must live in Allegheny county and there is no credit check.
  • Soverign Bank allegedly may allow affected customers with mortgages to defer payments until October.*
  • Citi Financial & Citi Auto allegedly may allow affected customers to temporarily defer loan payments without penalties or interest.*
  • The following financial institutions have been reported by OA as possibly offering assistance to state workers, either in the form of payment deferment or low- or no-interest loans:  ACBA FCU, Altoona VA Hospital FCU, Americhoice FCU, Central Keystone FCU, Citizens Bank, Citizens & Northern Bank, Corning CU, Cross Valley FCU, Erie FCU, Erie General Electric FCU, First Capital FCU, Franklin-Johnstown FCU, Fulton Financial Corp (Fulton Bank, Lafayette Ambassador Bank, FNB Bank NA, & Swineford National Bank), GNC Community FCU, Grove City Area FCU, JSTC Employees FCU, Members 1st FCU, NE PA Community FCU, New Cumberland FCU, Norristown Bell CU, NORSCO FCU, Oil Country FCU, Orrstown Bank, Patriot FCU, PNC Bank, Superior CU, Tobyhanna Army Depot FCU, Wyrope Williamsport FCU, and Your Choice FCU.  Terms and offers vary with each institution; contact the institution directly for more information.  Note that most loans require credit approval, and most offers are only open to existing members of that institution.

Social Assistance:

  • The Central PA Food Bank has opened its doors to affected state employees.  Your local food bank may also be able to help.
  • SNAP – certain affected employees may qualify for food stamps.  NOTE: There is a lot of back-and-forth on this one.  Call or visit your local office and ask.*
  • AFSCME Local 2456 is offering use of the computer & phone at their Front Street (Harrisburg) office for individuals to complete welfare applications, contact creditors, or seek social assistance.  Contact your steward.

Utilities:

  • Allegheny Power allegedly may allow affected customers to temporarily defer payments without penalties or interest.  This may depend on your location.*
  • Windstream allegedly may allow affected customers to temporarily defer payments without penalties or interest.*

Retail / Service / Dining:

  • Zembie’s Sports Bar is offering lunch & dinner to state employees; pay back when you get paid!
  • Zips Dry Cleaners in Springettsbury Township (York County) is offering free dry cleaning for state employees & the unemployed.
  • Auntie Anne’s Pretzels in the Capital City Mall is offering a free pretzel to state employees.

* – Entries marked with an asterisk are based on anecdotal claims and have not been verified.

This information is collected through word-of-mouth.  Do not assume that these programs automatically apply to you; contact the bank, business, or organization directly and ensure that you are covered before taking action. Also, if you’re a state employee who isn’t feeling the pinch right this second, please consider volunteering.  If you can’t volunteer at one of the charities helping us out, pick any charity that you feel is reputable and worthwhile.  They would all be grateful for just a little bit of your time.

37 thoughts on “Businesses & the PA Budget Impasse”

  1. In regards to the comment
    “SNAP – certain affected employees may qualify for food stamps.” and “* – Entries marked with an asterisk are based on anecdotal claims and have not been verified.”

    As a County Assistance Office Supervisor, I encourage all state employees to file for SNAP benefits (formerly called food stamps). Since your wages cannot be “reasonably anticipated,” we count zero income for any future pay dates. In addition, in almost all SNAP cases, household resources are no longer considered due to the expansion of what we call “categorical eligibility.” Basically, unless you have a significant source of income from other household members or another job, you should qualify. The best part about it is that once you are determined eligible and receive your benefits, there is no overpayment or reimbursement. You will have 10 days into the month after the budget is passed to report that your income now exceeds the limits (meaning you will qualify for an extra month’s benefit before your case will close). So, even though it means more work for CAO staff – APPLY! Don’t let pride get in the way – the legislators have put us in this position.

    As a side note, for families with children, ask the CAO about a program called Diversion. If you have under $1000 in resources (home and 1 vehicle exlcuded), you may qualify for a lump sum payment to help pay your expenses (amounts depend on the size of your family). We just received “clarification” from Harrisburg that this money is reimburseable (meaning you will have to pay it back), but for employees who do not qualify for loans, this is a nice alternative.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Brad. I’m going to leave the asterisk in place simply because I’ve heard so much back-and-forth on the issue in the press. Is there an official website giving guidance on the matter?

  3. There’s not a web site describing state employees and their specific eligibility, but the department’s web site for all benefits is

    http://www.compass.state.pa.us

    There’s some basic information about each program and links to complete an on-line application.

    As a side note, since some people are worried about going to their local CAO, if you request it, you can complete the application process for SNAP (Food Stamps) over the phone and through the mail.

  4. To add to what to what Brad stated, as I also work in a CAO. ALL state employees who apply and receive SNAP or any other “benefit,” make sure you understand what you qualify for. We are being asked to keep track of all state worker applications. DPW workers’ apps are only being handled by supervisors.

    From a VERY, VERY reliable source: a memo has been discovered regarding limiting benefits of state workers. From what I understand(as I have not READ the memo), they are planning on inputting workers’ income as soon as payroll is run. Also, the reimbursement of Diversion is still under question. Mostly due to this memo being in the hands of the SEIU legal team.

    For example, a state worker who applies and qualifies on 8/1, will be eligible for SNAP for the month of August right away. Then, if we receive our first paycheck in (God forbid) September, we would not be required by law to report this income until 10/10 at the latest. In this scenario, workers would be legally eligible for Aug, Sept, Oct.

    http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/oimpolicymanuals/manuals/bop/fs/Table%20of%20Contents.htm

    More to follow…

  5. I’ve also heard from a co-worker that Sovereign Bank is offering a forebearance program with payment deferral until October. Obviously, for current mortgage holders.

  6. If you have student loans- make sure to contact them regarding hardship forbearance. We have both Chase and AES for our loans and I was able to get a forebearance on both of loans. You can be granted it over the phone and then complete paperwork to continue it.

  7. I applied online for food stamps because I know they are going to be bombarded if they are not already. Should I have waited until August?

  8. LT’s wife,

    Now is the time to apply. In some cases, state employees are eligible in July. If you wait too long, you may not qualify. For example, if they announce a signed budget the first week of August and they state that we will get paid on August 14th, if your application has not yet been processed, you will likely be over the income limits because the CAO has to anticipate income. However, if you apply and your application is processed before the budget is signed and your next pay is unknown, you will likely qualify. So, now is a good time to apply – just be sure to get the County Assistance Office everything they need as quickly as possible (proof of July income, proof of rent/mortgage, property taxes, home owner’s insurance, proof that you pay for a heating utility, proof of ID, and any other verification that they may request). Good luck – hopefully, the end of this craziness is near.

  9. Thank you. I faxed everything they requested on the application the same night. They did call me and ask me to verify why I put $10 in my husbands income. I explained we had been told that the system would not accept it if 0 was put in.

  10. I went to York to Zip Cleaners. I took 10 items. This is a great help. I am going to take advantage of this. I understood the owner to say that the business is thriving & this is their way to give back to the community. They also indicated that state workers were not taking advantage of this.

    Thank you Zip Cleaners !

  11. I have been a customer with Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union for many years. Initially I was turned down for a line of credit. I asked them to look at the application again and they just called to let me know they approved me. This is something they are doing for their members who are State Employees. So if you are already a member of FMFCU – apply for the personal line of credit. If you are turned down – ask them to look again and make sure to mention you are a State Employee.

  12. **UPDATE ON ACBS ALLEGHENY COUNTY**

    I went down there yesterday to apply … I waited in vain hopes that things would be settled this week.

    They are “overwhelmed” and ***not taking any new “members” **** — in other words, if you haven’t signed on, you’re S.O.L. …

    My fault for waiting …

  13. Mifflin County Savings Bank is waiving all penalties and late charges. They are willing to wait until 10 business days after the budget is signed before payment in full is required

  14. Some people are speaking up, enough is enough, This govt needs to be for the great people of this state. No more special agendas, no more hiring friends at inflated salaries, no more late budgets. So many lives are affected by this impasse, not just those that work for the commonwealth but all those that rely on the workers at home, and at work. So many people so may lives, so much pain cause by a group of overpaid glory hounds….

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/364/petition-to-impeach-governer-ed-rendell-of-the-commonwealth-of-pennsylvania

  15. I found it funny that our calls for an investigation into unfair labor practices, then I find that our own Sen Bob Casey Jr serves on the Senate Committee that covers the US Dept of Labor, imagine that…I think like most of us we don’t care to hear any more excuses or lies, the damage for some has already happened, swept under a rug for the sake of keeping the peace.

    I would have never thought that working for the state would have meant becoming a second class citizen, giving up my rights to be paid on time or to recieve meaningful assistance, to have those appointed to help workers snub it’s own employees.

    No one cares for our plight, we are on our own, nothing will become of our complaints, our petitions, our letters. Seems better if they ignore 80,000 employees to protect the imagine of the Governor.

    In another month, if this insanity coninues, I know I will not be alone in seeking work elsewhere out of state.

  16. People don’t understand our plight. The general public thinks we are being taken care of by these pay day loans. If I hear one more time at least you know you are eventually going to get paid, I am probably going to knock someone out because that doesn’t satisfy my creditors.

    The media can’t tell our side of the story without people willing to speak to them. Floor9 has posted asking people to to talk to the AP. KDKA (linaberger@kdka.com)out of Pittsburgh is looking for people to interview. Is anyone willing to stand up and speak out? We can’t complain if we aren’t willing to do out part about educating the media and the general public.

  17. LT’s wife…I have PERSONALLY spoken with the AP guy, that is why he got on here. I asked Floor9 to post it since more people read here than my blog. He was interested in VERY limited aspects of information. I would be happy to speak to the Pittsburgh Gazette…but since I’m about 600 miles away they won’t be interested in me. The “local” television station ran a piece in the beginning which caused me to write to the reporter and ask why her coverage was so narrowly focused and did not take into consideration the plight of the workers since it is not all that good. After a few days she wrote and asked if I would be interviewed. I was absolutely willing. However, since they get a bit slot on the news in the county I live in and are about 45 minutes down the road I was not local enough.

    Yep. They could interview me…there’s nothing they can do to me in Harrisburg….but the truth is, I don’t think the mainstream press really wants the full story.

  18. I would love to do an interview but my husband is against it since his position is not in a union. He fears retaliation from the state.

    http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/politics/20257603/detail.html

    HARRISBURG, Pa. — A 90-minute meeting over Pennsylvania’s budget impasse Friday ended without progress on any of the dispute’s many elements, but Republican lawmakers described it as productive.

    A whole 90 minutes! I hope they didn’t overexert themselves.

  19. I would think this would be a priority considering the situation they have placed the employee’s in with their decisions. It just goes to show they really do not care what the employee’s are going through.

    My husband has a CO who is in need of formula for his 3 mo old son. He was denied WIC even though he is not getting paid. Does anyone know where we can direct people like this? I thought this was a state program. How can they turn them away?

  20. Thanks Floor9 for providing a place to vent, as we go into the fifth and sixth weeks with no pay. I hope almost 80,000 of my brothers and sisters remember this come election time for all of these legislators. Surely the union won’t remember, nor will pa citizen.

    As far as when this mess gets settled, it’s anyone’s guess. As far as anyone doing anything about us not getting paid, like most things, we just have to consider the lip service we have been given thus far.

    I pray these guys come to their senses and pay us. Surely there must be someone out there in the federal government that cares of our problem.

  21. Re- Formula

    If they are in the Fayette Co area the local St Vincent DePaul’s helps with approx $80 in formula. If they have it in stock they will just give it to them or send them to a local store with a voucher to purchase it. I would also ask to speak to a supervisor at the WIC program- I have found 1/2 the time the workers do not have a clue.

  22. Lt Wife…… Have them call their doctors office or the hospital. When I was in a similar situation not qualifing for WIC but not able to afford formula my Dr had samples that they were able to give me. The same goes for diapers. If they qualify for MA the dr maybe able to give them a prescription for them. Please keep us updated on this, as I would be willing to help purchase the formula for them come the 10th. Did they try for Food Stamps?

  23. Thanks CO’s Wife. That info will be helpful for he has several from that area. Do you know of any for Greene, Washington, Allegheny?

    THe formula needed is Similac Neo Sure – Yellow Lable.

    Also any idea where we can get some of these people diapers? I know one guy has a ife on bed rest with 3 yr old Twins running around and another guy has a baby maybe 2 – 3 2weeks old. I can’t imagine the stress this has added.

  24. LT’s wife…OK….so I’ve written to Abbott Labs (Similac) Corporate Giving and to P&G (Pampers). Let’s see if we can get some relief. I’ll keep poking around to see if there is any place else.

    Would you please send me your email? You can click on my name to get to my blog, go to ABOUT and you’ll find my email addy.

  25. How do you like the name of the new instant lottery “PayDay”? I know it’s supposed to be after the candy bar but what timing!

  26. The mom of the twins who was on bed rest has lost the baby. She was due in either Oct or Nov. I can only imagine how this situation had an effect on her and her situation. Please keep this family in your prayers.

  27. As a mom (and a mom of twins) my condolences go out to the friend who’s wife lost the baby. With all the stress we are all under, the loss of this little one is the heaviest burden to handle. Please post if there’s anything I can do to help the family & I’d gladly get in touch with you through Robin’s blog (if she wouldn’t mind).

  28. Tired of Politics: Robin would not mind in the slightest! Feel free!! Only if we stick together and help each other when somebody needs it do we stand a chance of getting through this reasonably intact.

  29. Robin did you ever hear back from the formula and diaper company? Just curious as to their response if any.

  30. I posted on another site searching for info and did not get an answer, forgive me for the size of the post. This is a question really for any DPW caseworker, I am almost reluctant to ask. But I am curious from a client point of view during this time what should we expect. Though I am not a ‘state employee’ this does have an effect at my front door as well. What would make your job during this time in dealing with us a little easier? I 1st would like to state, I think it is disgusting for our government to ‘require’ anyone to go to work without getting paid. I mean even walmart treats their employees somewhat better.

    Let me brief my situation. Never in my life would I have ever thought I would have an EBT card. I had a good job, my then fiance had a good job, house marriage kids etc… everything is going fine (and affordable). Then one day due to circumstances outside of our control [and not our own financial stupidity] we find ourselves in a situation where we were forced to have to apply for foodstamps. I would also like to state that I am not happy that I have to utilize these means, so I am not one of the many who feel that since I am in a tough spot right now this is owed to me.

    Since I have had considerable office experience prior, I am well schooled in completing proper paperwork on time and complete. My annual renewal is due by August 31st. As usual, in July shortly before it was stated that the state workers were not going to get paid, I received the big white envelope from Harrisburg. I am generally pretty efficient with the paperwork thing. As soon as information is requested I would have EVERYTHING faxed within a week. This time I waited. I thought I should wait to see what happens here. No Budget, then no paychecks. Well according to the forms I had to get everything in by August 14th. I waited until august 14 the last day to do it — i never wait until the last day. I am supposed to have my phone interview on 8/18. I did not want to send this info in until the caseworkers were getting paid at least. But my deadline came and no budget and I did not know what to do so I just sent my info in. Because I do understand that much of this info is programmed into a computer system from previously and if I get suspended it is not the ‘caseworkers’ fault specifically just how these systems are set up.
    As soon as I learned that people were not getting paid, last month I immediately tightened up in the event of a delay of some type & I stocked up in July. Fortunately due to a garden and hot summer weather I do not burn through groceries as fast in summer. I used July to stock up for august and I got my august deposit and have used very little of it in case I do get suspended in September,because my food stamp balance IS my grocery budget — I am not able to to supplement from my own finances at all.

    My question is basically what exactly should I expect? Does the budget impasse mean that those benefits are not being deposited either or will they stop also when funding runs out like schools, libraries etc..

    On a more personal note I am rather uncomfortable with having some person processing my information, getting me xx amount of food stamp dollars when not only is he not getting paid to do so but he may not even be able to get them himself. I do not want to call and pester him that seems inconsiderate of me. SO with situations concerning ongoing clients, what is happening the DPW offices themselves. I in no way want to sound like some selfish greedy client who just wants their food-stamps. The last thing I want to do is that right now. I just want to know what should a client anticipate during this time.

    Thanks to any caseworker who takes the time to simply answer my questions, I know frustration is an understatement right now.

  31. RE: my July 31 post regarding Mifflin County Savings bank..Even tho we have in writing that they were waiving late fees etc. we just got a notice that they were going to recind our mortgage. According to them we made back door deals with the bank and were late on our payment. This makes us , in their terms< a problem account that can not be held by the bank. Payment was made late but in full. Our lawyer is working on this now. Beware in dealing with Mifflin County Savings Bank..they speak out of both sides of their mouth. By the way we were nver late on any other payments until the budget crisis, never missed a payment

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