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CLS Statement: PA "Beyond Poverty" Report

CLS Statement: PA "Beyond Poverty" Report

Community Legal Services, as part of the Coalition for Low-Income Pennsylvanians, welcomes Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee’s Beyond Poverty report.  The report accurately outlines many of the barriers facing the low-income Pennsylvanians we see every day, including lack of jobs and employment opportunities, criminal records, lack of affordable child care, transportation, and health insurance, and the inability to move forward in life in the face of hunger and homelessness.  We look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Reed and the committee as they move into Phase Two of their efforts.

We note that we would have liked to see the report pay more attention to the fact that a changing economy, with a greater share of low wage jobs with few benefits, has made escaping poverty much harder. Many poor Pennsylvanians are unable to find work, and those who do may be unable to get full-time hours. Even full-time workers may find that their wages are insufficient to enable them to afford rent, food, health care, and child care. We hope that this can be part of the agenda as the committee’s efforts move forward.

To raise families out of poverty, we need a stronger economy paying higher wages and better access to education and training for low-income parents, who lack the job skills necessary to obtain jobs with family-sustaining wages, as well as a strong safety net for those unable to find work or whose barriers prevent them from working.