Plan will eliminate the Woodbury Standard. . . ." [Plaintiff's Exhibit 29].
Moreover, a 1977 DPW publication titled "Poverty in Pennsylvania: the Challenge" devotes an entire chapter to the Woodbury Standard. In this chapter, the Woodbury Standard is described as the cost of a market basket of those items necessary for minimal maintenance by public assistance families. This description is followed by the statement that "the Department of Public Welfare has based cash assistance grants on this 'Woodbury Standard' since 1957." [Plaintiff's Exhibit 2, p. 26].
In addition, the Pennsylvania Governor's Executive budget, for every fiscal year since 1974, has referred to the Woodbury Standard as "the Commonwealth's defined minimally acceptable standard of living." [Plaintiff's Exhibits 1, 22-28].
While it is far from clear how the current payment level was devised from the Woodbury Standard, Woodbury nevertheless appears to be the standard of need from which the Commonwealth measures its payments. See, Gurley v. Wohlgemuth, 421 F. Supp. 1337, F/N 13a (1976).
The United States Supreme Court has defined "standard of need" as the amount deemed necessary to provide for essential needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Quern v. Mandley, 436 U.S. 725, 737, 98 S. Ct. 2068, 2075, 56 L. Ed. 2d 658 (1978). The Woodbury Standard being the only computation presented to this court which reflects the items of essential needs, this court can only conclude that the Woodbury Standard is the standard of need for Pennsylvania.
Moreover, this court is unable to determine why DPW semi-annually updates the Woodbury Standard, by applying the Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index to the five major components of the standard, i.e., food, clothing, incidentals, shelter, and utility, if that standard is not the standard of need. Defendants claim that while the Woodbury Standard is used, "other factors [have] been used . . . against which the adequacy of DPW's standard of need/payment could be judged. . . ." [Defendants' Memo, 5]. What these other factors are, defendants do not inform this court.
DPW's argument that the Woodbury Standard serves merely as a benchmark by which Pennsylvania's official standard of need is evaluated is strained to say the least. DPW's most recent data show that current payment levels represent only fifty-eight percent of the Woodbury Standard calculated as of June, 1981. [Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction, 7; Plaintiffs' Exhibit 30]. In fact, Pennsylvania's level of payment has fallen below the Woodbury Standard during each year since 1970. [Defendants' Opposition Memorandum, 5].
We think it highly unlikely that the discrepancy between the level of payment and Woodbury Standard is explained by the theory that the former more accurately reflects the true standard of need. Instead, the more reasonable explanation is, simply that budgetary constraints have prevented Pennsylvania from establishing a payment level which meets the standard of need.
Our view finds support in DPW's Budget Request for Fiscal Year 1981-1982 which states that the Administration's proposed Welfare Reform Plan will replace the Woodbury Standard with the Lower Budget Standard ("LBS") recently developed by the Department of Labor. As the Woodbury Standard was devised over twenty years ago, the newer LBS is thought to "more accurately reflect[s] the level of assistance needed for a decent standard of living." [Plaintiffs' Exhibit 29, p. 40]. Significantly, the figures represented by the LBS are higher than those reflected by the Woodbury Standard. In view of the fact that Pennsylvania's level of payment is considerably lower than both the Woodbury Standard and the LBS, we are unable to accept defendants' contention that the payment level also represents Pennsylvania's official standard of need.
Accordingly, we grant plaintiffs' motion and permanently enjoin defendants from denying supplemental benefits under the AFDC program to otherwise eligible applicants and recipients whose gross incomes exceed 150% of Pennsylvania's payment level but do not exceed 150% of the Woodbury Standard.