State News

House looks to cut another $265M from human services

Posted June 2, 2009

North Carolina flag, NC flag, state flag, N.C. flag

— Dozens of nonprofit organizations and service providers said Tuesday that cutting North Carolina's state budget alone to balance it would increase unemployment and delay the economic recovery.

The coalition of more than 60 groups, called "Together NC," urged lawmakers to raise taxes to help narrow a proposed $4.6 billion budget gap for next year.

Together NC rally Groups say state cuts would devastate programs

House Democrats last week rolled out proposed spending plans that would make dramatic spending cuts and reduce or eliminate services, including slashing $1.4 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services.

An appropriations committee discovered a miscalculation in the DHHS budget proposal, however, requiring lawmakers to find another $265 million in cuts.

"The impact of this (additional reduction) is quite significant," DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler told lawmakers.

The revised plan was roundly criticized Tuesday by human services advocates, who compared the mood in the committee room to a funeral.

"This is a horrid proposal in every way, shape and form, and the funeral analogy is really on purpose because I do believe that, with this budget, people will die," said John Tote, executive director of the Mental Health Association of North Carolina. "Let's just euthanize people that are old and sick in our state and get it over with instead of the slow death that we're going to be inflicting upon people."

The revisions included cuts to the Smart Start preschool program, high-risk group homes and child care subsidies, freezing enrollment in a medical insurance program for needy children and eliminating a dental health program.

"It really does put children's lives at risk," said Karen McLeod, president of the North Carolina Children and Family Services Association.

Lawmakers expressed concern at how cuts were being made.

"We change numbers, (and) things shift around. There's no way we can see what we did last time versus this time," said Rep. Jeff Barnhart, R-Cabarrus. "Then you study to get comparisons, (and) the next time we get a different sheet with different numbers. I'm just frustrated with the way we do this."

The budget proposal is expected to go to a House committee vote on Thursday.

One of the few positive comments about the proposal was that lawmakers created a list of preferred prescription drugs for people on Medicaid, which would be a blow to the powerful drug-industry lobby.

"This shows how deep the budget crisis is that legislators are willing to strike against those kinds of costs with a big political contributor," said Adam Searing, of the North Carolina Justice Center's Health Access Coalition.

Budget proposals offered by Gov. Beverly Perdue and the Senate both included about $500 million in additional revenue through a combination of tax increases and fees, but House budget-writers have resisted attempts to include new taxes in their proposal.

"From Day 1, I have believed that you have to have some new mix of revenue to solve the problem," Perdue said. "I believe the voters in North Carolina want cuts – they want massive cuts – but they don't want to cripple the work of the state and the future of this state."

John Quinterno, research associate with the N.C. Justice Center, said everyone statewide would be affected by a cutting-only approach to the budget because public workers who lose their jobs would spend less in their communities.

"At some point, the General Assembly is going to have to stand up and grow a backbone and say, 'We can't stand those cuts. We're in a terrible economic situation right now. Nobody wants their taxes raised, but we're going to have to do it,'" Tote said.

176 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • Garnerwolf1 Jun 3, 10:28 a.m.

    "it's the ones that go on Dis. and than try to work for cash". There wouldnt' be much of a problem if everyone paid what they legally owed in tax

  • bigfatcat91 Jun 3, 10:01 a.m.

    The revisions included cuts to the Smart Start preschool program, high-risk group homes and child care subsidies, freezing enrollment in a medical insurance program for needy children and eliminating a dental health program.

    "It really does put children's lives at risk," said Karen McLeod, president of the North Carolina Children and Family Services Association.

    really childern with no health or dental insurance is not puting their lifes at risk how? If a child gets sick how are the parents going to pay? The plan they have now for medical insurance does not work as it is. Now they want to freeze it. NOT A GOOD IDEA!!!!!!!!

  • whatusay Jun 3, 9:28 a.m.

    Eliminate the social services for illegals, stop the free health care for them, and no free education for them. Budget will be be balanced. We hire more police because they increase crime. We hire more teachers because they are where they should not be. Health care at the expense of tax payers is rediculous. Can't anyone see what is happening?

  • littleriver69 Jun 3, 8:57 a.m.

    My plan is better.....stop paying for everything the illegals are getting here in this state...get rid of them and everyone gets a pay raise!!

  • WHEEL Jun 3, 8:27 a.m.

    Our GENIUSES up in Raleigh can't add up what they have correctly. 250 million error in the budget!! How can they be expected to get it right. All this moaning by the "non-profits" is more for their director's and staff's salaries than for those they claim to help.

  • mom2threecld Jun 2, 7:29 p.m.

    i didn't vote for him. this is why

  • OSX Jun 2, 7:28 p.m.

    What do you mean? "This is going to hurt our children" MY Kids are fine and well taken care of,,,By Me !!! When did everybody's kids become OUR kids? I take care of my responsibilities.

  • meh2 Jun 2, 7:24 p.m.

    SSDI is a federal program, not a state program. Stay focused on the issue at hand...

  • icdumbpeople Jun 2, 7:11 p.m.

    1. Get rid of Bev. (FIRST)
    2. Make the wacky weed legal. ( I dont smoke it, but tax tax tax)
    3. Cut out some food stamps. I work 2 jobs and these people eat better than me!! ( Go watch em at the store!)
    4. Birth control for people that refuse to work. Forced.
    5. STOP THE Free Medical for people that refuse to work. I dont get it if I dont work, neither should they.
    6. Free Housing? WHAT? Make them HOMELESS!!

    Share the wealth my FOOT! You get what you work for. Sick of these handouts and I pay for every one of them.

  • yankee1 Jun 2, 6:46 p.m.

    Before everyone loses their mind, let's try a little reality. I have someone close to me who on SS disability. No one will give her medical insurance, she can't get medicare for two years and can't get any prescription help. So the world is full of struggles. Let's be careful how we define cuts here! It is very typical that these so called non-profits, who seem to have no trouble paying administrators big money, cry every year. It is also typical that they define a decrease as a cut in the amount of money by which a program grows. It therefore is not a cut at all but merely a lesser increase. The school systems play this word game every year as do liberal democrats. Words have a way of being manipulated. In fact our wonderful POTUS is a master at it! While your giving all this deep thought, remember that ACORN is a non profit and is as corrupt as it gets. Be careful what you buy in to!

More...