Gov. Deal budget plan worries social service advocates

Friday, Jan. 21, 2011 6:58 PM
Last updated 7:13 PM
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ATLANTA -- Advocates for social services say the budget cuts that Gov. Nathan Deal is recommending come as a staggering blow to agencies providing health care, employment assistance and food to the poor and elderly.

“During the budget hearings, every agency said, ‘we’ll take our hits now, but remember us next year or whenever the money comes back into the budget.’ But the new normal is this level of revenue for the state,” said Alan Essig, executive director of the Atlanta think tank the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

Essig made his comments Friday during an all-day conference with social service agencies and non-profit groups to help them understand the implications of the state’s budget. While the legislature just began hearings on the details of the budget, it’s unlikely to remove most cuts because legislative leaders oppose raising taxes, especially while the unemployment rate tops 10 percent.

The cuts this year go beyond reducing administrative overhead or staff, said Claire Richie senior policy analyst for the institute.

“We’re decreasing services,” she said.

For example, the $1 million cut to Elder Support Services means shut-ins won’t get 138,000 home-delivered meals at a time when 4,300 elderly Georgians were already on a waiting list for the meals, according to the retiree-advocate group AARP. The organization predicts loss of the meals could send thousands to nursing homes since they would no longer be able to stay in their homes, which are cheaper for the state and preferred by the retirees.

Agency personnel cuts will boost the caseload for individual social workers to more than 600, leaving little time for investigations and intervention, warned Lucy Smith, manager of the Food & Nutrition Unit in the Department of Family and Children Services. Furloughs of one day per month add to the strain.

“We’re not even able to work every work day,” she said.

Other cuts include, reducing by 10,000 the children getting subsidized childcare and adding an estimated 4,000 families to a waiting list, according to projections Richie released Friday. The foster-care program would lose $5 million, a 7.6 percent reduction from last year and a 48 percent drop since fiscal year 2009 when the recession hit the state budget.

The Division of Aging Services would take a 15 percent drop compared to its pre-recession level. That includes cuts of 19 percent from the pre-recession level to Elder Abuse Investigations & Prevention and 28 percent to the Council on Aging.

Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids, health programs for the poor, are looking at a 1 percent cut is payments to the doctors and hospitals who provide treatment. At the same time, the programs would require the people covered to pay higher co-payments while ending coverage for dental, vision and podiatry services.

The examples go on and on, and those attending the conference had to also absorb the news that Republicans in Congress are pushing for cutting as much as half of the assistance the federal government grants to states for social programs.

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Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/21/11 - 07:52 pm
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But.... When you have no

But....

When you have no money, there must be cuts.

Unless state agencies can point to specific places to cut other than their own budgets, I don't want to hear their whining.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 01/21/11 - 07:55 pm
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Charities were designed for

Charities were designed for this, not bureaucrats.

jamesnewsome
38
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jamesnewsome 01/21/11 - 08:46 pm
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The sad thing about many of

The sad thing about many of these programs is that they have been abused by people taking advantage of the "free" handout. The meals for elderly is a good example. I've seen folks enjoy the free ride for the free lunch when they had plenty of money and ability to fix their own meal. BUT, lunch was free and the government was paying - so why not?

I have no problem with any of the social programs as long as only the truly needy are serviced. Now it appears that they will suffer because of the abuse from those who have taken advantage for so many years.

usapatriot
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usapatriot 01/21/11 - 09:03 pm
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"...warned Lucy Smith,

"...warned Lucy Smith, manager of the Food & Nutrition Unit in the Department of Family and Children Services. Furloughs of one day per month add to the strain."

Ms Smith, if 1 furlough day per month equates you to saying ...

“We’re not even able to work every work day,” she said.

How much credence can I give to anything else you have to say?

raul
5784
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raul 01/21/11 - 11:06 pm
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How about the elderly folks

How about the elderly folks being taken care of by family when possible? Is that a novel idea?

I agree with you jamesnewsome. You hit the nail on the head.

augusta citizen
10068
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augusta citizen 01/22/11 - 07:32 am
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raul, you're so right, my

raul, you're so right, my parents not only took care of their elderly parents, but also two widowed aunts who had never had children. My parents did this (along with their siblings) for many years.

dani
13
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dani 01/22/11 - 09:39 am
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How long will it take for

How long will it take for people to regain their sense of responsibility to family.
The "let someone else do it/or pay for it" has become a way of life and short of God stepping in I doubt that it will turn around.
Poor humans, so many have completely lost their way.

seenitB4
98646
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seenitB4 01/22/11 - 09:39 am
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It is so hard to give up a

It is so hard to give up a freebie once you have it....isn't it...why is it so hard to understand that the state is broke....we don't have it anymore...the freebies have to go......this is what happens when people abuse the system.....geeeez

WW1949
19
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WW1949 01/22/11 - 09:40 am
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Family takes care of family.

Family takes care of family. If the family needs more money then they should cut out some of the things they do such as smoking, drinking, and get back to just the basic needs of life. It is not the taxpayers responsibility to take care children from cradle to grave. Whatever happened to the use of birth control by people who can hardly take care of themselves much less a child.

seenitB4
98646
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seenitB4 01/22/11 - 09:42 am
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dani....Just like my dad use

dani....Just like my dad use to say...."You want a helping hand, look at the end of your elbow." He was a smart fellow. In todays world they need to hear that .
I know for a fact that free meals have been abused...

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