To the editor:
“…office closures do not appear to be having a negative impact on access to SRS services.” “As the agency gains experience in providing access through technology and a redesigned service delivery model, additional offices may be closed. Opportunities have been identified already through collaborative efforts in communities.” — SRS Secretary Janet Schalansky in her testimony before the Senate Ways and Means Committee in January 2004.
In 2003, Gov. Sebelius embarked on a plan to close 62 SRS offices across the state over a two-year period as part of her directive to improve government efficiency and reduce budget expenditures. An article in the April 4, 2003, Journal-World estimated these closures would affect 300,000 Kansans. Schalansky also provided the following statistics from the 30 counties where offices were closed in 2003 as compared to the remaining counties with open SRS offices. Counties with closed offices: 75 percent experienced increases in Temporary Assistance for Families cases; 80 percent experienced increases in food stamp cases; 95 percent experienced increases in child care cases. Counties with offices: 50 percent experienced increases in TAF cases; 87 percent experienced increases in food stamp cases; 87 percent experienced increases in child care cases. The statistics would indicate that office closure had no bearing on access to SRS services.
With that said it would seem the current rhetoric and accusations being tossed about are quite disingenuous and appear to be driven by pure partisan politics. This seems to have become an irrational debate rooted in fear and ignorance and fueled by hysteria rather than fact.