Heedless cuts will hurt
By BARBARA POSTMAN - Published: April 8, 2010
You may have heard about Challenges for Change — state policymakers' initiative to
provide better services for less money. Who can argue with that goal? But there are some
The proposed reform in the Agency of Human Services is a case in point. The Minnesota
consultants who drew up the Challenges suggested the agency could save $23 million.
But that would be just the state money, most of which is matched with federal dollars. By
cutting $23 million, Vermont would lose another $26 million in federal funds. Challenges
for Change is really asking the Legislature and the administration to figure out how to
save almost $50 million — and they're expected to do it in about six or eight weeks.
How is it going to be possible to find efficiencies in a few short months that will not
result in a reduction in services? Efficiencies in an administration that — for almost 8
years — has been talking about making government more efficient and has been reducing
the number of people in the state work force.
How is it going to be possible to spend so much less when Vermonters are struggling
with the deepest recession in many years and need state services more than ever?
Services like aid to families with children, child-care subsidies, mental health services,
rental assistance, and low-interest loans to start businesses. We all benefit from these
services, especially at times like this, and this is the time when the state should be doing
all it can to help those who have nowhere else to turn.
This $49 million cut would come after 18 months of balancing budgets in the face of
increased demand and multiple layoffs of state workers. And this is after legislators in the
House — presented with a budget from the governor that contained $50 million in cuts to
Human Services — tried everything they could to do the least harm and hold down
We have a long history of commitment to a state that works for al