miércoles, 5 de octubre de 2011

NEWSDAY NOTES - BUDGET WOULD SLASH SOCIAL SERVICES

Las decisiones de Ed Mangano , prefiere seguir pagando por fiestas, bailongos y diplomas que ahorrar fondos para educación especial e intervención temprana.
http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/nassau-budget-would-slash-social-services-1.3225576Nassau

budget would slash social services
October 5, 2011 by ROBERT BRODSKY / robert.brodsky@newsday.com

Health and social service programs would take a hit in Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's proposed 2012 budget, with major cuts targeted for special education, employment services and early intervention, according to an analysis by the independent Office of Legislative Budget Review.

The review was released in advance of Thursday's legislative hearing examining the budgets of the departments of health, social services and human services. Combined, the departments would see their budgets drop by almost $12 million as Nassau County seeks to close a projected $300-million deficit.

"These are some pretty major cuts," said Steve Antonio, acting director of the budget review office. "And you would expect them to have an impact on services."

Social services would see its $528-million budget drop by nearly $5 million -- or about 1 percent. The savings would be achieved primarily through layoffs and eliminating or reducing nonmandated services, said John Imhof, social services commissioner.

The cuts would require the department to lay off more than 100 employees and to leave 43 vacant positions unfilled. "It's excruciating to consider even one layoff," said Imhof, noting that the department's average worker makes $55,000 per year.

The department, he said, will provide services mandated by law, but some nonessential functions will be eliminated.

For example, the county would no longer provide $130,000 for the health and welfare council, which provides outreach on health and human services. The county would also eliminate $290,000 in contracts for disability determinations, as those decisions would be left to physicians, Imhof said. A $512,500 contract for temporary workers would not be renewed, and several education and training contracts would be rebid.

"These are some very painful choices," Imhof said. "The challenge is to maintain the most important, lifesaving services."

The county would also take a scalpel to the new Department of Human Services, which would see its $45.5-million budget cut by $4.3 million, or 9.4 percent. The department was formed this year by consolidating the offices of behavioral health, aging, physically challenged and youth services.

The cuts would span the four offices, including reductions in funding for long-term medical care, mental health counseling and meals for seniors. Six vacant positions would also be eliminated but no layoffs would occur, said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin.

The Department of Health's nearly $203-million budget would take a 1 percent cut, bringing it down to $200.7 million. In addition to 32 layoffs, the volunteer medical reserve corps would be utilized to supplement emergency response personnel while other functions would be scaled back to the state mandated minimum, the report said.

Two other hearings are scheduled this month and the budget must be voted on by Oct. 30.

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