Montgomery County Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards joined State Rep. Matt Bradford, D-70, and nonprofit and business representatives on the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown on Thursday to denounce cuts to health and human services in the proposed Pennsylvania state budget for 2012-13.
Referencing the recent controversy over Gov. Tom Corbett's statement that Pennsylvania women who didn't want to see a pre-abortion ultrasound should "close their eyes," Shapiro claimed that Corbett had "closed his eyes" to the plight of "the most vulnerable [people] in Pennsylvania."
"We're here to say to Governor Corbett and our friends in the legislature, open your eyes to the reality of what a 20 percent cut to human services would mean," Shapiro said.
"These proposed cuts are really going to damage our county and the people who live here," Richards said.
The press conference was called by The Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services (GNPC), a regional consortium of nonprofit and commercial entities in those business sectors that aims "to better service the region's at-risk residents by fostering joint problem solving, networking, and education" among its members.
Anne Frank, the group's president, warned that the effects of the proposed funding cuts would have widely felt effects as services that assist seniors, children, the mentally ill, and the disabled would be cut back.
"You, your friends, and your neighbors will be impacted by these service cuts," Frank said.
Elizabeth Vibber, the marketing director for Warrington-based accounting firm Bee, Bergvall and Co., sought to emphasize the local economic impact of the proposed cuts, noting that the GNPC's members generated $100 million in payroll and $100 million in expenses.
"They spend the majority of their dollars in the neighborhoods they serve," Vibber said.
According to Vibber, nonprofit organizations employ about 40,000 people in Montgomery County.
Bradford called the cuts "disproportionately deep" and said it was "unfathomable that anyone would try to implement" them.
All the speakers urged the public to contact their state legislators and voice opposition to the spending cuts.
"We must speak up for those who can't speak for themselves," said David Crosson, CEO of the Souderton-based Indian Creek Foundation, which provides services to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Prior to the press conference, Crosson said he had already had to deal with extensive staffing cuts in recent years.
"There's only so much belt tightening you can do. If these cuts stay in the budget, I'm going to have to cut programs," Crosson said.