Here’s a sobering fact: 13.1 percent of Pennsylvanians live in poverty despite billions spent every year on the social safety net. Simply throwing more money at the problem won’t make it go away.
To address poverty at its roots, Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana County) and the Majority House Policy Committee released a new report called Beyond Poverty. Unlike many reports on chronic poverty, Beyond Poverty doesn’t offer policy solutions crafted in the halls of Harrisburg. Rather, the report identifies barriers to prosperity (or poverty traps) based on feedback from the poor themselves and those who serve them.
Another key difference is the bi-partisan approach. On the acknowledgements page you’ll notice a variety of organizations operating on both ends of the spectrum, from the Commonwealth Foundation, to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, to county agencies.
Poverty isn’t a partisan problem and neither is the solution.
Finally, the report stands out because it offers narrow next steps. The report names five focus areas that will be further investigated by five teams of lawmakers and stakeholders. These include, Outcomes that Matter, Life Skills 101, Benefits that Work, The Essentials, and Educating for Opportunity.
Poverty is a complex problem, but with 1.6 million Pennsylvanians struggling to make ends meet, including half a million children, it just can’t wait.