CORRECTION: A previous version of this editorial was incorrect, based on an AP story of how much the name change would cost. The AP later corrected its story saying Public Welfare Secretary Bev Mackereth said last year the change would cost millions and wasn't affordable, but the latest estimate from her department is it would cost about $1 million. Our argument below still stands.

In good times, the idea of changing the name of Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare would just be an eye-roller.

Proponents say calling it the Department of Human Services would better reflect its mission and would remove a stigma associated with public aid or welfare.


Call it the Department of Good Deeds if you like — just get the job done.

The department is one of Pennsylvania's largest and most important. It provides support and care for our most vulnerable — the elderly, disabled, poor, homeless, mentally ill, abused children, victims of domestic violence

It's not like it would hurt anyone or cost anything to change its name, right?


By one estimate, the new moniker approved by the Senate this week would cost $1 million if it's adopted.

Keep in mind: These are not good times, and Pennsylvania's coffers are not flush.

The state Legislature started the 2014-15 budget process with a more than $1 billion deficit.


The spending plan now awaiting action by Gov. Tom Corbett bridges that gap with wishful thinking and one-time bookkeeping maneuvers that assure an even worse situation next year.

Yet somehow we have $1 million to change letterhead.

How about this: Why don't we spend that money actually helping more people in need? We suspect most of them couldn't care what the department is called.

There might be a stigma attached to "welfare" — felt both by some who receive it, as well as by some who provide

But what's to prevent "human services" from taking on the same negative connotation for these folks down the road?

The idea, after all, is the same, and there's nothing wrong with it.

We happen to think looking out for the welfare of our fellow human beings is the right thing to do, and no one truly in need should feel ashamed of taking an offered hand.

People are free to call that what they like.

But let's find a better way to spend $1 million within the Department of Whatever.