Archive for Thursday, January 15, 2009

SRS director concerned about effect of budget cuts on vulnerable Kansans

January 15, 2009


— Vulnerable Kansans could lose their assistance and progress in public school achievement would be dealt a setback if the Legislature instituted across-the-board cuts, officials said Thursday.

The testimony came as Republican legislative leaders consider across-the-board cuts, which they say are needed because the state’s tax revenue problems are getting worse.

Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Don Jordan said a 5 percent across-the-board cut in the present fiscal year would result in 1,040 low-income Kansans with development disabilities losing home- and community-based services.

Jordan said he expects SRS will have to sustain some cuts, but he said targeted spending reductions rather than across-the-board cuts would be better.

“We need to make smart decisions,” he told the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Lawmakers are looking at an immediate budget shortfall of $186 million, and a possible deficit of nearly $1 billion in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, has proposed a mixture of budget cuts, delays on implementation of tax cuts and diversion of funds that normally go to local governments.

But Republicans, who dominate the Legislature, don’t like the plan, saying that the cuts aren’t deep enough to fill the budget hole, and that many of Sebelius’ proposals would force local tax increases.

Public school funding, which makes up 52 percent of state spending, was spared large cuts under Sebelius’ proposal, but Republicans say more can be taken from school funding without hurting classroom instruction.

Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, and other education advocates, however, said an across-the-board cut to public education will stop the progress the state has made in boosting academic achievement. Much of the work of schools is mandated by federal and state laws, Tallman added.

But state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said, “The fact remains that we have to cut the budget this year and next.”

He challenged Tallman to name another area in the budget that should be cut instead of public schools. Tallman said the Legislature should consider a tax increase to help bridge the shortfall.


Shane Garrett 8 years, 11 months ago

If someone has true disabilities they should be helped. I have noticed that a lot of developmental disabled people have cars. Perhaps the case workers could become drivers of the disabled persons car to do errands for the disabled, going to the store, ect. thus saving the state money?

Shane Garrett 8 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps Obama should not spend 150 million on his little swearing in party and instead give each state 3 million. Or would that make to much sense? I noticed a large outcry from the media and others when "W" spent 40 million in 2004 and the economy was in great shape back then.

scribe 8 years, 11 months ago

wally, how does hiring a driver (i.e. case manager) save anyone money? Individuals with developmental disabilities who own and drive their own cars, pay for those cars and the operation thereof with their own money, usually working at community jobs. If you are interested in enlighterning yourself, I suggest you call one of the DD organizatioons in town and ask for a tour. They will gladly share with you the workings of their world and the struggles they face in advocating for these folks.

KS 8 years, 11 months ago

SRS can get some of the people that are ON the program OFF the program so people who are OFF the program that deserve to be ON the program can have the services they dearly need. There is entirely too much waste in this program.

KS 8 years, 11 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront - I have heard and I have seen first hand. I know full well what you are talking about. The abuse is rampaant. Members of the Legislature need to be doing some undercover work and check it out themselves.

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