Local Politics

Lawmakers, advocates leery of more cuts to human services

Posted April 13, 2010

— As lawmakers begin the process of erasing a projected $788 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins in July, some are already balking at more cuts to programs that were hit hard by last year's budget cuts.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Lanier Cansler on Tuesday submitted a list of 53 programs that could be reduced or eliminated from his department's $4.2 billion budget to help balance the state budget. The suggested cuts included the Smart Start pre-kindergarten program, child advocacy centers, mental health clinics, private-duty nursing and personal care services.

Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS generic Advocates vow to fight more DHHS cuts

"It makes all of us scared," said David Richard, executive director of Arc of North Carolina, an advocacy group for people with developmental disabilities. "If we have to do those cuts, people will lose everything they have. We'll never restore the system if they go this deep."

Some lawmakers agreed that the suggested cuts go too far.

"We're sitting here dealing with these unconscionable proposed cuts in health care," said Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin. "These are fundamental services that we ought to be able to deliver."

The 14-page list details $144 million to $154 million in optional cuts, but Cansler said that barely covers the 3 percent budget reduction scenario. DHHS officials couldn't come close to compiling a list that would cut spending by 5 to 7 percent, as requested by Gov. Beverly Perdue's office, he said.

A 5 percent cut would be about $210 million, while a 7 percent cut would approach $300 million.

State Rep. Verlo Insko, D-Orange, said she worries even more about the 2011-12 budget, when about $1 billion in taxes approved last year are set to expire and millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds are no longer available to plug into the budget.

DHHS already faces several lawsuits tied to the $1.2 billion in cuts made last year, and courts have delayed some of the spending reducations until the suits are resolved. Advocates for the disabled guaranteed Tuesday that even more suits would be filed if the cutbacks continue.

"These budget cuts presented (Tuesday) are simply unworkable. The state has an obligation under federal law to provide services to people with disabilities," said Annaliese Dolph, an attorney for Disability Rights North Carolina.


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  • josephlawrence43 Apr 13, 2010

    DHHS-isn't this the agency that handles the Medicare/Medicade for the State? Wonder how much of their budget is for entitlement programs for illegal aliens?? Wonder why--instead of cutting educational programs and care for those who genuinely need it--why not cut the funding for illegal aliens??

  • almagayle50 Apr 13, 2010

    The backlash is always against the handicapped and fueled by the people who are most obligated to protect them. If you remember Cansler stated onair in an earlier piece that 75% of the budget goes to substance abuse, which comprises only 25% of the recipients. Neither Easley nor Perdue has done anything to stop Medicaid fraud. Agencies are constantly billing for services not provided or churning paperwork for services that never come. The Arc is one big offender. Disability Rights makes excuses about being so tired and small and a little non-profit. This story seems to have done a great deal to create more resentment for the handicapped, when they receive little of the funds and will always be put back on their mothers not the state.

  • whatelseisnew Apr 13, 2010

    ""We're sitting here dealing with these unconscionable proposed cuts in health care," said Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin. "These are fundamental services that we ought to be able to deliver."

    Well Senator, dig deep in your own pockets and find others to dig deep into their pockets. You been digging way too deep into my pockets and I have nothing left. Maybe you morons should have hung on to those surpluses for the down days instead of wasting it on new programs and then raising the state debt levels to pay for infrastructure.
    Defund the entire department.

  • Worland Apr 13, 2010

    Obama managed to increase the National Debt a record $485B in the last 2 months. Almost enough to fight the entire Iraq war... again. Why doesn't Bev just ask Barack for a few measely hundred-million? Maybe ask for a cool billion. What's another billion borrowed Chinese dollars between Dems?

  • PanthersFan45 Apr 13, 2010

    If you ask me the cuts should start with all the 6-figure big cats in charge of programs as well as cuts to the salaries to some of our elected officials from the Governor on down. The answer is always more taxes to the average worker, instead of cuts to the ones with "fat salaries" who decide what gets cut. I say make cuts to the beauracracy at the top.

  • floseh Apr 13, 2010

    Perdue is only more Easley. Get rid of the whole bunch and start again. Remember the corruption that turned up in the lottery before the first ticket was sold? That should have been a red flag for everyone.
    The Floseh

  • miketroll3572 Apr 13, 2010

    If the money is NOT there, its NOT there. What do these people want, to break me to pay for their freebees? You have gone to the well to many times and the well is dry. I have no more to give.