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PNS Daily Newscast - January 19, 2020 

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PA Protest Thursday will Focus on Cuts to Veterans' Services

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July 23, 2009

HARRISBURG, Penn. - Protesters involved in a statewide rally Thursday say Pennsylvania's state budget axe could put hundreds of veterans and veterans' home workers on the street unless some proposed cuts are restored. Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. and veterans activist Hal Donahue sees the situation first-hand. He says veterans' homes are more than just stopovers for those who live and work there.

"They're homes to these veterans; they're a big family. I'm sure salaries and things are an issue, but patient care is their number one care, and it filters from the top administrator down to the janitor. These are homes!"

State Senate leaders are proposing $7.6 million in cuts to veterans' homes across Pennsylvania, which would result in another nearly $6 million lost in federal matching funds. Pennsylvania faces a $3.2 billion shortfall, and budget talks remain at an impasse more than three weeks after a new state spending plan was due.

Donahue says it's a tough pill to swallow, considering 6,000 state National Guard troops currently are deployed.

"It's the largest deployment since World War II, yet back at home they are literally cutting benefits and cutting services to the troops and their families."

Donahue says the loss of matching federal funds prompted by state cuts also has far-reaching implications for veterans' homes and the communities where they are located.

"Not only are you trying to plug a hole in the budget, you're creating another one with the ripple effect through the entire economy, from the local town all the way up through the state capital."

More information is available from the Pennsylvania State Employees International Union, 717-232-1270.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA