Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
Legislators and advocates are pushing the Governor to reconsider his decision to immediately end non-Medicaid drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services. Providers across the state have been told that state funding has run out for such programs and no payments will be made after March 15 which will cut services to some 55,000 treatment clients and employment for over 5,000 workers. Also, the budget for such programs in 2012 is proposed to be cut 80 percent from prior year levels.
I agree that to balance the budget, spending cuts are necessary but choices must be made carefully so that we don’t have to spend more money on the unintended consequences of cuts later. Prevention and treatment programs should be evaluated for their effectiveness in helping people keep working as well as preventing crime, domestic violence, traffic accidents and incarceration.
This year the budget was reduced for these programs but the Governor authorized spending at last year’s higher monthly rates and anticipated getting a supplemental budget to make up the difference. Some feel the Governor is creating a crisis rather than rationing services and making choices about the most effective programs to fund within his authority.
The 2012 budget will require each agency to set measurable outcomes as they request funding so spending can be evaluated and priorities made in how to use limited resources. The five House Appropriation Committees, at long last, are being charged with creating a detailed spending plan for 2012 based on outcomes and available revenue.
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