More H&W Cuts
I heard four hours of historic testimony Friday before last. Over 80 people spoke, almost all saying cuts to state services would negatively impact their lives. One lady, a well-dressed 70-year-old paraplegic in a wheelchair told us how she valued her independence. She told about the cattle truck accident 40 years ago that left her legs paralyzed. It changed her life in a second. But it didn’t end her life. She wanted us to know the support she got from the state helped her recover and kept her active. She is involved in state commissions and county boards and district review panels. She’s got spunk. It was a long Friday morning I will never forget.
This public testimony to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) was in response to the governor’s proposed $38 million budget deficit, which he outlined in the State of the State address. As the week has progressed we find he was mistaken. The figure is now $155 million. So H&W budget cuts will need to be at least $50 million from general fund monies. Add to that the federal matching funds lost and we’re looking at a 10% cut.
Many who testified before JFAC offered suggestions for revenue (raising taxes or collecting taxes owed and unpaid). They must not realize that choice was removed from the discussion November 4th. We elected a governor and many legislators who see government as the enemy, an oppressive force that has shackled us with a “tyranny of entitlement.”
I have seen people who made bad choices because they thought they had a good deal. A kid who will not move out onto his own because staying in his folks’ basement is easy. I have seen folks stay at a boring, unfulfilling but well-paid job when they could start the business of their dreams. One of the most common “tyrannies of entitlement” I see has to do with workplace paid health insurance benefits. It is not uncommon for people to stay in a job to “keep the benefits”, especially if there are health issues in the family. So entitlements (or “good deals”) can be a tyranny, I suppose. I would call them more of a trap, a hole one can fall into and need to climb out of. We all need to be looking for the right choices in what we do. I sure don’t want to be setting traps for people.
But the paralyzed young woman in the cattle truck wreck sure needed a hand. I was glad the state could help. I think we are headed into a time when we do a lot less of that. Our governor spoke of churches, communities, volunteers stepping up to the plate and helping those in need. I see a lot of that now in my community. I cannot imagine a volunteer taking on a 5-year-old autistic kid that screams and bites when upset. And these kids will be facing some changes.