Budget reduces spending for alcohol, drug, mental health treatment

Ted Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski

From the Salem Stateman Journal, January 11 2009

Many programs face budget cuts – Budget reduces care for some seniors, spending for alcohol, drug treatment

Social services make up the second-largest chunk of the state general fund.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s budget proposes spending 22.9 percent of state tax and lottery dollars on human resources programs.

He has proposed increases in spending on health care for children and poor adults.

But those will come at the expense of other programs.

The governor’s budget reduces care for seniors above certain income levels. About 6,500 seniors and people with disabilities will no longer qualify for in-home care.

It cuts the state alcohol and drug treatment budget by 83 percent; and cuts community-based mental health services by 90 percent.

It cuts child-care subsidies for 3,500 low-income working families.

And the post-TANF (welfare) benefit would be reduced from $150 to $50 per month.

Social service leaders say they’ll lobby the Legislature to restore some of that funding.

“We are going to be interested in protecting TANF and employment related day care,” said Cathy Kaufmann, policy and communications director for Children First for Oregon. “Those are critical programs for very low-income families.”

Lawmakers are likely to seek ways to cancel the worst cuts.

And Kulongoski has said he’s hoping Congress will increase federal dollars to states, offsetting some of the cuts.

READ – No Easy Way Out, Oregon lawmakers face tough budget decisions in the new session, Eugene Register Guard, January 11 2009

OUR COMMENT – There are two conclusions a reasonable observer can make here. 1. Ted Kulongoski cynically uses community interest in maintaining human welfare, relying on others to do the right thing and pay for services for people with mental illness and addiction. 2. Ted Kulongoski callously doesn’t care about persons with people with mental illness and addiction. Callous or cynical, he fails this vital test of leadership because either way he’s toying with the lives of some of our state’s most fragile persons, their families, their friends and neighbors, and those concerned with their welfare.