The state budget sits in a pool of red ink that threatens to drown much of our historic commitment to economic and social justice. The Governor’s 1991 budget cuts translate into a whopping $8 – $10 million reduction for Hennepin County. And this is only the first round. A $1.2 billion budget shortfall still looms over the state for the next biennium.
County government exists at the cutting edge of change in our society because it provides vital social services to our most vulnerable citizens. Those most in need are the most likely victims of the state budget shortfall. Fortunately, the programs and direct services Hennepin County provides for persons with disabilities have not been affected in the first round of budget cuts
The Governor’s budget cuts include: property tax aid, social service programs, aid to city and county governments, and transportation and highway funding.
What does this mean for us as residents of Hennepin County?
• We will lose $7 million in promised property tax aid to Hennepin County. This will likely mean the need for tax increases next year.
• We will lose $1 million in transportation funding. Hennepin County will be forced to accept immediate MTC service cuts, reduced road maintenance, and delays in construction and repair projects.
• We will lose $700,000 for chemical dependency treatment, resulting in tightened eligibility standards for those residents who so desperately need treatment for drug and alcohol abuse problems.
• We will have substantial cuts in the Dislocated Workers Program. Workers who are laid off over the coming year will not be eligible for job training or assistance in finding new employment under this program.
• We will sustain cuts in the work Readiness Program. Program participants will no longer receive the information services that help them find jobs. While unemployed individuals (who do not qualify for unemployment compensation) will continue to qualify for the Work Readiness grant of $203 per month, these individuals will no longer be assisted and monitored in their job search.
• Other non-mandated social service programs may also face cuts, such as in-home care for the elderly, day care, and mental health programs.
The next round of budget cuts promises to be even more devastating to critical social services and ultimately to our neighborhoods. Please join me and our state legislators in lobbying Governor Carlson against further cuts in Hennepin County programs. You can reach the Governor’s office at 296-3391. In the meantime, I will continue to work hard to preserve the excellent services and programs that Hennepin County offers its citizens with disabilities.
As always I’m here to serve you. Please contact my office at (612) 348-3085.