Note: press conference starts at 11:30 into video.
Several Minnesota DFL lawmakers will hold a press conference to detail the health care programs that will be cut under the Republican “Phase One” budget bill. They are joined by a mother from Anoka County whose adopted children rely on services that could be cut under the Republican budget plan.
Speaking: Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, Marsha Van Denburgh, Anoka County Parent
Press release from the DFL: Republican budget cuts target children and vulnerable adults
A budget-cutting bill that Republicans are calling a first step in addressing the state’s $6.2 budget deficit includes cuts to a number of Health and Human Services programs that directly affect children, adolescents and vulnerable adults.
On a fast track through Senate committees, the bill reduces child and community services grants by $27.3 million (22% cut), emergency general assistance funds by $12 million (66% cut), county child support enforcement by $7 million, and adult mental health services for those under State Operated Services by $1.7 million.
According to Republican leaders, the reductions merely continue budget cuts approved by legislators during the Pawlenty Administration. The reality is that most of the previous cuts were made because one-time federal dollars were available at the time to help keep the programs running. Now, those federal funds are no longer available — and the Health and Human Services budget cuts proposed in S.F. 60 impose devastating impacts on many Minnesotans.
Senators Linda Berglin (DFL-Minneapolis), Linda Higgins (DFL-Minneapolis) Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato), Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick), and John Marty (DFL-Roseville) expressed concern about the cuts, which are being rushed through Senate committees – bypassing the Senate Health and Human Services Committee where individuals affected by these cuts could have an opportunity to provide public input.
Joining the senators were Marsha Van Denburgh, a mother from Anoka County whose adopted children rely on mental health services that could be cut under the Republican plan; Lynn Tiger, a transitional facility resident (Kateri Residence) who has utilized General Assistance Emergency funds that will be reduced significantly, along with Chanda Hadlock, Transitional Housing Program Coodinator (Kateri Residence); and Mary Regan, Executive Director of the Minnesota Council of Child Caring Agencies.
“We already have weakened our safety net,” Senator Berglin said. “But because the federal dollars we were able to use last year are gone, the bill Republicans are now proposing pulls that safety net right out from under many of our most vulnerable citizens.”
The senators are gravely concerned about the impact the cuts will have on adults who struggle with mental illness and on children and teens who deal with abuse, neglect, disability, poverty, and chronic health problems.
“For example,” Sen. Higgins said, “much of the child and community grant funds are now spent on efforts to intervene and investigate on behalf of children who are experiencing abuse and neglect. Without these funds, thousands of maltreatment reports will go uninvestigated.”
When the legislative session began in early January, Republican leaders pledged to protect funding for children, the elderly, the disabled, and those who are unable to take care of themselves.
“Now, only three weeks later, that promise is broken with their first budget-cutting bill,” Sen. Sheran said. “If this is only the first round of cuts, I am very worried about what may come next.”