The Pennsylvania Lottery just declared 2012 its most successful sales year in history, which might be because a 3×3 scratch card is becoming the only poverty aid Pennsylvanians have left. Tomorrow the Keystone State will end its general assistance program, which, until now, provided $200 a month to more than 60,000 poor and disabled residents.
It seems the War on Poverty declared by President Lyndon Johnson is warping into a War on the Impoverished. Kansas and Illinois ended their general assistance programs last year, and Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon and Wisconsin yanked their benefits in 2010.
The idea behind a state’s general assistance program is to provide a safety net for adults without dependents, such as a spouse or children. Oftentimes it includes food stamps and rent payment assistance. Unlike the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefit, though, a general assistance program is funded by the state. Thus the amount of assistance varies by state, sometimes even by county or city.
But is the complete elimination of its general assistance program really worth the $150 million Pennsylvania will save per year? For more on this, tonight we’ll be talking with Sharon Ward, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. We’re also excited to talk to Patrick Murphy, who’s challenging the de facto King of Crazy Town, Rep. Allen West, for his congressional seat in Florida. And political columnist Carla Marinucci will talk with Jennifer Granholm about the latest in election news, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s planned run for governor of California and a whole lot more.