Archive for Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SRS considering steep cuts in services to Kansans

April 19, 2011


— Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration said Tuesday that a wide range of budget cuts are under consideration in the social service agency, including shutting down a state mental health hospital and one for people with developmental disabilities.

Gary Haulmark, legislative director for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, said no decisions have been made yet.

But Haulmark said looming budget cuts would force the agency to look at numerous reductions.

“We’d have to look at everything,” Haulmark told the House Appropriations Committee, which requested a report from SRS. “We’re going to have to scrub each and every budget and look for cuts where we can.”

The Legislature reconvenes April 27 to finish its budget work. Legislators have been wrestling all session with an expected $500 million revenue shortfall for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Brownback had proposed a list of cuts totaling $27 million to SRS, and a House proposal would cut another $3.7 million.

Haulmark’s list of budget-cutting options included shutting down the Rainbow Mental Health Facility, and it reiterated Brownback’s plan to close the Kansas Neurological Institute. The list also included elimination of state funding of early Head Start and cutting SRS and state hospital staff by 5 percent.

“At this point we don’t know what the cuts are going to be,” said Haulmark. “We’d have to look at everything.” He said SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki Jr. “will have very tough decisions to make.”

“Thanks for the reality check,” said Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia. “We are responding to a fiscal crisis in our state, and I’m sorry about the cuts being made to SRS.”

Haulmark’s list also included reducing funding to programs that provide in-home services for people with disabilities, cutting SRS contracts by 10 percent, and eliminating state funds for lobbying.

Haulmark said some believe the state shouldn’t provide grants to groups that then lobby the Legislature for more funding.

Earlier Tuesday, the Appropriations Committee rejected an effort by Rep. David Crum, R-Augusta, to make further cuts to public schools to take care of new social service caseload estimates.

Under various proposals, base state aid to kindergarten through 12th grade will be cut from $244 per student to $250 per student. Crum wanted to cut another $17 per student, or $11 million from base state aid.

But a group of Democrats and Republicans rejected the proposal on a voice vote.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 1 month ago

How about some cuts to the saleries of these Republicans who think the disabled and disaffected are fair game for their political agenda??

Soapbox 7 years, 1 month ago

Cut the Democrats as well, who have spent us in to a hole!

tomatogrower 7 years, 1 month ago

Don't confuse Soapbox with facts. It will short circuit his little brain.

Steve Bunch 7 years, 1 month ago

It's war on the poor, on the infirm, the mentally ill, schoolchildren, teachers, veterans, gays, women, Hispanics, on the cities, blacks, the environment, science, health care.... It's all out war and they don't plan on taking prisoners (because the prisons are full already and too expensive to maintain).

Soapbox 7 years, 1 month ago

It is not war on the disadvantaged, times are tough for everyone, bleeding heart

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

Not for the wealthy. They've profited nicely from the efforts of their political bagmen, a gullible public and willing corporate media propaganda machine. For them times are great and getting better.

Pretty soon they intend to steal the SS funds many of us have spent a lifetime paying.

imastinker 7 years, 1 month ago

What SSI funds?

They have already been stolen. You're late to the party.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

Tell that to the Kochs. They've had a tough time with their record high profits.

geekin_topekan 7 years, 1 month ago

Woohoo! The chronic homeless will have some competition for camping space now.

ferrislives 7 years, 1 month ago

If they were really serious about the budget, all legislatures and the administration would take at least a 10% pay cut. That's the least that they can do, right?! Oh wait, they're special, aren't they?

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years, 1 month ago

ferrislives, SRS is PART of the administration. Their Secretary reports directly to the governor.

ferrislives 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the clarification Thinking_Out_Loud; it was really needed (sarcasm).

ALL top administration staff and the legislature need to take a 10+% pay cut if they truly care about the budget. What I said isn't opposed to your "answer". Cutting WIC is obviously not the same as cutting the pay of the head of SRS and other KS departments, so your "answer" makes no sense.

Me2 7 years, 1 month ago

How can you expect them to take a 10% when just a couple of years ago they gave themselves a 1% raise retro back for 10 years which amounts to a 10% raise & now you want them to give it up? Oh, my, my......... what will they do??(sarcasm intended)

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 1 month ago

At least there was enough money to pay the new Secretary more than the old one and to increase the number of people on the Secretary's staff.

That money, of course, is untouchable.

Brock Masters 7 years, 1 month ago

Sure you can blame the Republicans and yes, they do deserve blame, but one thing liberals overlook is their role in the pendulum swinging so far to the right. Yes, libs, you caused the shift to the far right by pushing the national political agenda so far to the left and for electing political leaders consumed by power. So consumed by power that they told us that we had to pass a bill to know what is in it and then used political manuvering to jam it down our throats. Yes, they were in power and they could use that power to crush their opposition and crush they did.

And then of course there is the president you elected. Full of lies, full of anti-American sentiment and arrogance. So, don't like the ultra-right majority then blame yourselves for creating an environment in which it could happen.

Oh yeah, the republicans are doing the same thing. Drunk on power they are doing what they want without bipartisanship, transparency or compromise. Drink from the cup of power because it is soon to be drained.

I wish we had politicans that were statesman, that used their power to lead not bully.

Brock Masters 7 years, 1 month ago

I was referring to Congress and national politics that caused the shift in our state legislature. The national scene motiviated state conservatives to action.

And not quite true about all the budget problems in the state of Kansas being caused by a Republican legislature. The last budget, at least, was a bipartisan moderate republican-democrat budget.

Kansas problems stem from lack of revenue. The conservative right, in budget issues, is pretty much neutered.

Brock Masters 7 years, 1 month ago

Really? You must not follow politics to make a statement like that. Do you not know how many democrats and moderate republicans lost seats in the last election?

There are hardly any democrats left.

The coalition of democrats and moderate republicans used to be able to hold the conservative repubicans at bay, but not now. They just steam roll over the mods and D's.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 1 month ago

This state hasn't had a "statesman" since Bob Dole retired.

ksjayhawk74 7 years, 1 month ago

Hey, these cuts to services to the poor, mentally and physically disabled people are desperately needed. How else is Brownback supposed to pay for all the corporate tax cuts?

Richard Payton 7 years, 1 month ago

I support a sin tax called the Koch tax to pay for Kansas services being underfunded.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 1 month ago

Pick a political topic, any topic. The way Democrats and Republicans act and then react to that particular topic makes me think of a pendulum, swinging far to the right, then far to the left. The social safety net became a social trampoline, never allowing a person to hit their bottom, yet repeatedly picking them up. The reaction, a slash and burn policy. Democrats and Republicans are devoid of either new ideas or old ideas that work.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

They want to cut funds to groups that also lobby, but not necessary lobby with the funds they give them - am I wrong on that interpretation? So say, the ARC, which provides services for children with intellectual impairments but is also an independent charity-run organization would be eliminated if part of their charity funding goes to pay for a lobbyist? They'd cut things like that, right? That's a rather clever way to make sure that not only are they screwing over disabled children, but they don't have to hear just how much they've hurt them. After all, why should anyone but large corporate interests communicate with legislators on how their funding affects them, right?

Also nice to cut back on Head Start, which I'm pretty sure is another matching grant we'd eliminate. It's also funding we'd end up paying for later when those students don't get early intervention and need more services in the school system. Oh right, we've already screwed them out of funding for Special Ed. And forget about the MRDD waiver that might eliminate some of the burden, because we're getting rind of that, too.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, that's my understanding as well.

It seems most likely unconstitutional to prohibit groups from assembling and petitioning the government, don't you think?

Disallowing them from using the public funds to do it might be ok.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

I'd be fine with disallowing public funds to pay for lobbyists and requiring them to use a separate funding source for those efforts. That may even already be statute. I'd have to check. But if all the lobbyist does is talk with representatives and communicate between the government and the represented group, I'm trying to see where the harm is. Oh noez, we can't meet for a representative from the United Way to talk about grants for keeping children healthy, because that might be seen as favoritism. We've scheduled a meeting with Boing to talk about tax cuts instead?

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes. And we'll have to pay more for services for adults that didn't get early interventions as children, and we'll lose federal money on several of these cuts. Heckufajob, Brownie.

ivalueamerica 7 years, 1 month ago

so we have money to spare defending unconstitutional laws, we have money to spare for tax breaks for the wealthy, we have money to spare to increase corporate welfare.

I now know where that money came from.

The poorest 2% of America is footing the bill for the richest 2%

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 1 month ago

But they pay a higher percentage of their income in all taxes.

Plus they spend a boatload on lobbyists; that's how they get all the government services.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

They still pay payroll deduction taxes and sales tax on purchases, so yes, they do pay taxes.

ivalueamerica 7 years, 1 month ago

You would have a valid point if what you say were completely true.

But it is not, so you are pointless.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Actually, included in the 45% figure are some very rich people as well.

Jan Rolls 7 years, 1 month ago

Sam and his bunch are just rotten. Keep going sam and they will start calling you one-term sam. You can't get any worse than these people. Take $80,000 from AT&T and then raise the rates for them. What a slime ball.

Soapbox 7 years, 1 month ago

Obama and his bunch are just rotten. Keep going Obama and they will start calling you one-term Obama. You can't get any worse than these people.

mloburgio 7 years, 1 month ago

heard this quote from good ole george bush today. " I screwed it all up! But thanks for blaming the black guy."

mloburgio 7 years, 1 month ago

uhadmeatsmellthis, i hope you lke this one better or would you rather have a pro-life.

mloburgio 7 years, 1 month ago

uhadmeatsmellthis, i hope you lke this one better or would you rather have a pro-life.

Jan Rolls 7 years, 1 month ago

We're talking about kansas and you tea baggers just can't resist. It's Obama's fault that sam is helping the kochs, at&t, etc. while talking away from the poor and middle class. Glad you listen to trump, glen and the rest of the right wing idiots.

xclusive85 7 years, 1 month ago

"Under various proposals, base state aid to kindergarten through 12th grade will be cut from $244 per student to $250 per student. Crum wanted to cut another $17 per student, or $11 million from base state aid."

Did anyone else catch that this needs editing? I know it's hard to understand math LJW editors, but $244 is less than $250 so that wouldn't really be a cut would it? Maybe the numbers are in the wrong place?

Kathy Theis-Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

The numbers are not in the wrong place and the LJW has a competent staff: The meaning of your quote is that the legislature is taking away MORE from each student, from $244 to $250.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

Dang, if our budget is down to $250 a student, we'd be in real trouble.

xclusive85 7 years, 1 month ago

Ok, I understand what the quote is talking about now, but it is still not edited very well. The way it is worded is confusing.

hedshrinker 7 years, 1 month ago

Should it be "cut fr $250 to $244 per pupil"? I wondered on that too. Editing, please? Just don't understand all this gutting of the social safety net and human svcs to Dickensian levels while the legislature doesnt have enuf backbone to discuss tax restructuring that would focus on wealthy corporations and individuals.

mloburgio 7 years, 1 month ago

Road Map for Kansas 1.Increase in net personal income. 1 (See footnotes.) 2.Increase in private sector employment. 2 3.Increase in the percentage of 4th graders reading at grade level. 3 4.Increase in the percentage of high school graduates who are college or career ready. 4 5.Decrease in the percentage of Kansas’ children who live in poverty. 5

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

Well, the poor and disabled will be plenty PO'd and ready for the revolution that inexorably approaches.

doc1 7 years, 1 month ago

Dear goodness. I might have to wait until May to start the in ground pool heater rather than April. These times are tough. ~Sam Brownback

tomatogrower 7 years, 1 month ago

A teacher forwarded this little tidbit from Hutch's newspaper. This jerks in Topeka have to protect a pension they never earned.

Jersey_Girl 7 years, 1 month ago

Fred Mertz - Kansas is part of the Bible belt and therefore, always has been and always will be a red state. And please, don't talk about liberals consumed with power. Our last Republican president was so consumed with power, he nullified the Geneva Convention. I'm not sure this country has ever had a president so arrogant and consumed with power!

And they best hope that no one like Jared Loughner is released from Rainbow Mental Health Facility ends up in Topeka for out-patient treatment at Menningers. When mental health facilities are closed, people who can barely take care of themselves are turned out onto the street. I'd love to see a study examining the cost effectiveness of closing a mental health facility vs. the cost of having a new multitude of homeless people in the area.

BrianR 7 years, 1 month ago

Isn't that why they have for profit prisons?

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

That's the same Jefferson who owned slaves, right?

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

Same one who was broke when he died, yup.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

Also the same Jefferson who was like many of his southern colonial plantation owners sustained in their lifestyles by the generosity and loans from the banks of England. Jefferson technically owed more than he and his lands were worth. And actually Jefferson was opposed to inherited wealth. To him wealth must be constantly put to work, not for show.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

“Thanks for the reality check,” said Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia. “We are responding to a fiscal crisis in our state, and I’m sorry about the cuts being made to SRS.” I hope this was meant to be sarcastic; otherwise it's just mean. A state's first responsibility is to the least among its citizens. Despite the GOP's attempts at social engineering, we will still have our mental ill and disabled, and they will still often be financial and emotional burden to their families and caregivers. Visit a SRS facility - they are likely to have office equipment decades past prime. And the workers, even those with college degrees aren't doing this job for the money. This is an area where progress and job satisfaction is measured in such small steps that to the rest of us fortunate would go completely unnoticed. For once I'd like to see a brave politician declare that he would rather cut the utilities to the Capitol building than to first cut aid to the mentally ill and disabled. The GOP is not the party of the brave or the prudent, just the selfish and heartless.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

This illustrates nicely the obvious disconnect in the right wing pro-life faction.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

First Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute. Ebenezer: Are there no prisons? First Collector: Plenty of prisons. Ebenezer: And the union workhouses - are they still in operation? First Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not. Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it. First Collector: I don't think you quite understand us, sir. A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. Ebenezer: Why? First Collector: Because it is at Christmastime that want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. Now what can I put you down for? Ebenezer (aka Muscular Sam the Governor): Huh! Nothing!

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 1 month ago

............ And perhaps we give a little to the poor If the generosity should seize us But if any one of us should interfere In the business of why there are poor They get the same as the rebel Jesus

Kris_H 7 years, 1 month ago

Just line up all the old people, disabled, and children in need against the nearest wall and call in the firing squad.

It would be quicker and less painful than this death by a thousand cuts they are about to be put through now.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 1 month ago

People argue with me when I say that Brownback actually believes in abortion; just postbirth abortion, not prebirth.

Alceste 7 years, 1 month ago

Certainly, the "social workers" charged with working with the disabled in the local SRS field offices need to be eliminated. These haughty "social workers" do very little and accomplish next to nothing: They've always been viewed as "pre-retirement" slots within SRS....ask any social worker employed by SRS....they'll tell ya the exact same thing.....well.....the one's who are honest.....maybe better to ask EX SRS "social workers". CUT!!! SLICE!!! ADJUST!!!!!

Increase the number of staff who actually work: That would be the people who process the applications for TANF, Food Stamps, Child Care, and Medical Care: These people are overworked and underpaid.

DECREASE: The number of child support staff: They accomplish very little in the final analysis and pay particularly CLOSE attention to the SRS "lawyers" who work with Child Support Enforcement cases.....they're like the bottom of the barrel "lawyer wise" and do as little as could possibly, repeat, possibley be even and ever imagined.....

Plenty of places to cut within SRS: Another fine area is the number of "administrative staff" who work within each area office.....take a look at the Lawrence Office, which a part of the KC Metro Region: SLASH! CUT!!! Get rid of these seat sitters!

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

On what basis do you arrive at your conclusions regarding the child support staff, Alceste?

Sounds to me as if you have a personal axe to grind. Care to share the basis of your conclusions?

ToteAlongShaker 7 years, 1 month ago

i'd absolutely love to know as well.

also, Alceste, the workers in the departments you listed are not "social workers." just wanted to clarify since you are so passionate about it.

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

They're social workers as far as the classic definition as to what social work is all about as far as I am concerned. "Social Workers" per state of Kansas law, which several Alceste's helped to draft and implement? Nope. You are correct. Boy, did we make a big mistake, huh?!

However, the general public DO view them as social workers as do the thousands of people who rely upon them for the work they do.....

swksgirl 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree, do you actually work with these people or are you just going off what someone says? Because I have actually worked with the Lawrence SRS folks in the child unit and they are amazing, caring, and extremely hardworking people, who have way too much on their plates. There will always be bad apples. I would love to see you do their job for one day and see how much sitting they do. I would also love to see you go into some of the homes and situations that they do. This may be one of those think real hard before you speak thing or insert foot in mouth.

Alceste 7 years, 1 month ago

SRS "staff" cow tow to store bought legal counsel. If a person has none, that is, they don't have the money to purchase a mouthpiece, SRS "staff" go at and after them with zeal. However, if one DOES have a store bought mouthpiece, the process is very different. Hence, once again, the poor get the shaft whilst the monied get a free ride and from a Public Welfare agency at that. It's funny, really, how "that" works....the Agency assigned to protect the lives and rights of the disadvantaged feed on it's own. Help me to understand why it's only people below the poverty level who get involved with SRS directly. Those with money can avoid the process. Why don't SRS staff chase after the monied to pay their child support bills? Why is it that one never sees the monied in Courts dealing with child abuse and neglect? Do the monied not beat their children? Or, are the monied simply able to buy their way out of it and it's just easier for SRS staff to go after the poor?

Where's Ricky Ricardo when you need him around to 'splain how stuff works?!

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

So,I guess we can all see how much stock to put in to your opinion.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

How dare you attack SRS child support lawyers. Although it's been many, many years since I worked in those departments, every one was highly dedicated and professional. There was pride within the state and competition among the counties to see who collected the most child support. Our performance was easily measured. Our frustration was never with local judges who also understood the importance of our job. However, there were many other states and locales at the time, Utah and especially Phoenix, AZ that simply ignored our out of state requests. Why? Because they had no staff and no funds to collect for non-residents.

4accountability 7 years, 1 month ago

Print the suggestions above and mail it to the SRS Secretary. Like it or not, it rings true!!!

Someonecares 7 years, 1 month ago

The very first layoff because of budget cuts from Rainbow Mental Health was a Disabled Vietnam Veteran. The second layoff was a sweet lady in HR who was just a couple of years away from retirement.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 1 month ago

I can't wait for the first child to die because Child Protective Services workers (already over extended to begin with) are cut and dealing with doubled caseloads that were already over the top to begin with. (Actually, I don't want to see a child die. But you can just bet it will happen. Just another example of Brownback's belief in postbirth abortion.)

Alceste 7 years, 1 month ago

And yet SRS and Kansas like to claim "World Class Status" because Kansas was the 1st state in the Union to PRIVATIZE foster care services. No longer are SRS "staff" responsible for the actual work after a child is taken from his/her family.....for profit outfits like Kaw Valley Center (yeah, yeah, yeah.....B. Wayne Sims and Kaw Valley will tell ya they're a NOT for profit outfit, but that's just sheer poppycock when you look at how much money good ole B. Wayne pays himself....) perpetuate their contracts and guarantee themselves a fat paycheck by providing Grade D "services".

In fact, Kansas practices "defensive social work" rather than innovative social work and that's why Kansas has had one of the highest removal rates in the Nation. Too, Kansas and SRS move very swiftly to terminate parental rights so that the child gets to languish in foster care drift for umpteen years. It's a swell system and them SRS social workers are really top notch. Not.

Alceste 7 years, 1 month ago is a damning summary of what's what here in Kansas. "So we still don’t know how many children really endure the trauma of being torn from everyone they know and love – in Sedgwick County or anywhere else in Kansas. We know only that the number is very, very high." = "Return of "The Cruelty": Why Kansas Child Welfare is Broken – and ^ (FIFTEEN)Ten Ways to Fix It"; “turning foster children into unpersons.” Written by : . . National Coalition for Child Protection Reform . .

Get rid of SRS social workers: They're doing more harm than good....and along with them....those who haven't the courage to question authority or the lunacy coming out of Topeka, get rid of the "administrators" who are pulling the strings. Can 'em. Start over. It's the least we can do for the families who come into contact with the SRS "system".

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

Cait48: It will and has already happened in other states. You may find this newsletter to be of interest: Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (, a service of the Children's Bureau/ACF/HHS ( It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare and related professionals. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any view expressed in an article, and opinions or views do not reflect those of Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children's Bureau, or staff. Other free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at:

Linda Endicott 6 years, 11 months ago

A lot of the disabled that are at KNI are there for a reason : they're not capable, either physically or mentally (or sometimes both) to care for themselves...this is why they're at KNI to begin with...

But say they go ahead and close it (and with Kansas politics lately, it seems if they even hint at it, you might as well consider it a done deal)...where are those people supposed to go? Oh, yeah, I forgot...into community based settings...places like group homes or perhaps living at home with family...but wait! many group homes that exist now do not have the equipment or the trained staff to deal with people who have severe mental or physical problems...many families are having enough trouble these days taking care of the ones that are already at home, let alone having to consider bringing home a disabled person with special needs...

And even if they do have someone else to take care of them, SRS is also considering "reducing funding to programs that provide in-home services for people with disabilities"...does that include funding for things like wheelchairs, ramps, bathroom fittings, etc., that may be needed?

Sounds like the disabled are going to be trapped between a rock and a hard place...where are they supposed to go? How are they supposed to get their needs met??

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