Pa. Credit Unions Step Up Aid to Employees
By the latest count, 25 CUs had established special programs to help state workers via low- or no-interest loans, skip-a-payments or other means, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association.
Disbursement of funds began in earnest by the CUs when the state's largest CU, the $3.4 billion Pennsylvania State Employees CU of Harrisburg, made advances of more than $3.1 million to more than 3,500 members.
"We are today seeing draw-downs from the 33,000 of our state employee members who are eligible to apply for our $1,000 no-interest loans," said a spokeswoman for PSECU, which began preparing its loan aid project last May. Other CUs across the state are also offering assistance in various forms.
As many as 77,000 state employees have been affected by the reduced or no-pay schedule that began July 17, impacting workers across the state.
PSECU said it hoped its $1,000, zero-interest "Pa. Budget Impasse Loan" would help "commonwealth employees help make ends meet during the budget impasse."
"While we had hoped that we could have avoided this situation, we are relieved that our planning has allowed this process to go relatively smoothly," said Gregory A. Smith, president/CEO. "The loan area has been working 12-hour days in preparation for this situation, and on this past Friday and Saturday, our phone staff answered over 5,700 calls."
The PSECU "Impasse Loan" account is available until 60 days after the governor signs the new budget into law. Any loan balance remaining after 60 days will begin accruing interest at 3.9% until paid off.
PSECU said it has the ability to help 96% of the almost 34,000 state employees identified as eligible on its member rolls.
Gov. Rendell has repeatedly praised both banks and CUs for aiding state employees, calling their product offerings "socially responsible."