Real World Library Advocacy: Action Needed Now!

{Gleaned from the Pennsylvania Library Association}
To: Pennsylvania Library Supporters.
The vote on FMAP funding that had been scheduled for U.S. Senate on August 2 has been delayed until August 4.  This means that we have additional time to reach out to Senator Arlen Specter and Senator Robert Casey. 
Here is the background that you need to know:  The state budget that passed in late June relies on federal funding that has not yet been approved by Congress.  Without this federal assistance there is a good chance that even more public services funded at the state level will be reduced or eliminated, and this may include vital services and programs provided by Pennsylvania’s libraries.
The United State Senate is scheduled to consider a bill on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 that would insure the needed federal funds known as Federal Medical Assistance Percentage or FMAP.  These funds help to offset the cost of Pennsylvania providing health care for state residents who are poor or chronically ill.  The FMAP total for Pennsylvania is estimated to be $850 million and this amount was included as a source of revenue in the recently passed state budget.  Without it, the state budget will be out of balance and, since the medical assistance program is a federal mandate and cannot be cut, budget-balancing would need to take place in other state programs.  Needless to say, that has an ominous sound to it.
We have no specifics of what might take place if the FMAP money does not come through.  What we do know is that this will likely be a multi-step process beginning as soon as Wednesday and continuing in the U. S. House of Representatives after Labor Day. 
So, if you would, please contact Senator Arlen Specter and Senator Robert Casey today and urge them to support FMAP funding for Pennsylvania. 
Senator Arlen Specter:
Senator Robert Casey:
Here’s a brief message that you can copy and paste into the “message” section on the two links above:
 I urge you to support extending the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding that will return nearly $850 million for your constituents across Pennsylvania.  These funds are desperately needed to insure that medical assistance costs are fairly covered by the federal government.  Without this federal reimbursement, many vitally needed, state-supported programs—such as public libraries—are at risk.
During this recession, your constituents have relied on public libraries to a greater degree than ever before.  Visits to libraries are up 11%; in-library computer use is up 19%; and hits on library websites are up 48%.  Clearly, libraries are an information, technology and employment lifeline for tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
These vital library services were cut in the state budget this year and last.  If the Congress does not extend FMAP funding, more deep service cuts may result and your constituents will face library services that are reduced even further.
Please do all that you can to extend vitally needed FMAP funding for Pennsylvania.  Thank you for your consideration and positive action.
Thank you for contacting Senators Specter and Casey.  Now more than ever, we need to educate our federal lawmakers about how much citizens depend on libraries as an information, technology, and employment lifeline, and that the loss of FMAP funding threatens their constituents’ access to a wide range of important public services, including libraries.
Thanks for your strong advocacy and for jumping quickly to this task.  Apologies for asking you to go through the “copy and paste” process two times but some technology hurdles require it, so thanks for your extra efforts.  We will keep you informed as this issue moves forward.
--Glenn R. Miller
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association
220 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 10
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania  17055
phone:  717-766-7663
fax:  717-766-5440
Please join PaLA’s Facebook group, Pennsylvania’s 5.6 Million Library Cardholder Can’t Be Wrong
HTFL Customers: Thank you for reading this. We encourage you to be active advocates on behalf of your Haverford Township Free Library. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact Richard Thau, Library Director.